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Managing the Holiday Season

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Does it seem like everyone around you is getting into the Holidays, but you are too busy to join in? Do you feel like you are the only one doing any work anymore. Would you like some help getting through the Holiday season?

(Note: Retail business have their own special situation at this time of the year, so many of the thoughts below won't apply to them. Instead, here's a list of Holiday Management Tips for the Retail Industry.)

Concentrate on what is important

The first rule of getting through the year end craze, without seeming like Ebenezer Scrooge and without losing your mind, is to concentrate your efforts on the important tasks.

What really has to be done? Do you have production deadlines to meet. What customer satisfaction issues require attention? Does a specific project need to be completed this year or would you get more creative work if it slips into January?

Focus your management effort on those things that have to get done this year. Encourage as much production as you can get, but make sure you are applying that effort to the issues where it will make a difference. This is a classic case of the 80/20 rule. (If you don't know that rule or how to apply it, read Pareto's Principle - The 80-20 Rule.)

Make last minute fiscal "adjustments"

Think about your financials. Should you accelerate income for this year to meet stakeholder expectations, or should you defer it into next year to reduce taxable income for this year. You plan your financials all year long, but this is your last chance to "buff them up".

Plan and budget

If you haven't already done your planning and prepared your budgets for next year you had better get busy. (Here's some help on building your annual budget.) It's hard, especially in smaller companies, to take time away from more immediate issues in order to deal with planning, but it is essential.

If your budget planning cycle is done already, this is still a good time to review your plan. Have your secretary block out all your appointments for half an hour and just sit and think. Are we heading in the right direction? Do we know how to get there?

Reflect on the good things

This is also a great time to think back on all the good things you have accomplished this year. Take the time to congratulate yourself for these successes, whether they are financial successes or inter-personal successes.

Reward Key Employees

This is also another good time to recognize key employees and reward them for their contributions during the past year. Remember, that the behaviors and accomplishments for which you reward these employees are the behaviors you are encouraging for all your employees for next year.

If you pay holiday bonuses to the employees with the highest production you encourage everybody to produce. If you acknowledge those with the fewest errors, people will focus next year on reducing their errors. And if you praise the employees who excelled at customer service,... well you get the idea.

Thank all employees

Finally, thank all your employees. They all contributed in some measure to your success. Depending on your position in the organization, and your budget, this recognition may vary. It can be a hand-written note, a small gift, or a company party.
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