As the year careens towards its logical conclusion, you and your employees are likely looking forward to some well-deserved time away from the office. Perhaps there is some fun in the sun on the horizon, or maybe you'll be at home, spending time with family.
Of course, there will always be a few eager elves who are keen to wrap up old business and clear the decks for the new year as the rest of the world takes a step back.
No matter what winter vacation means to you, there are many ways to ensure you are getting the respite you so richly deserve.
Relaxing winter vacation: A guide to exploring your sweet spot
Winding down the year means getting ready for the next set of challenges. If your team is taking time away, it also means that you need to get important tasks out of the way before your close up shop.
Even if your company does not experience a major seasonal push, you don't want to schedule important campaigns, installations, or deployments too close to the holidays.
It's the one time of the year when most people are most distracted, which can lead to costly errors and oversights. There is nothing worse than doing a job incorrectly only to have to do it again, and you certainly don't want to be racing to fix a problem while you should be leaving for the airport.
Your Year in the Rear-view
We all tend to look back on what worked and what didn't over the course of the year. Of those projects and objectives that went awry or fell by the wayside, what lessons were learned? And is there an opportunity or a compelling reason to revisit those plans?
Some deficiencies will be easy to identify, and some will be more subtle. For example, a specific financial goal is a tangible number, but there might be identifiable reasons for the shortfall. What data do you have to support this, and what can you glean from that data that can be applied to next year's forecast?
Review Your DRP
Businesses today face challenges that go far beyond the expected to the unexpected. The political and economic climate, natural disasters, and even the weather have a part to play in whether we survive or flounder. As these are largely unpredictable variables, it's a challenging situation. However, having a contingency plan in place for any turn of the tides will strengthen your stance.
So, before you disappear onto a sandy beach somewhere, review your disaster recovery policy. Renew and revise any articles that are untenable. Craft solutions to any scenario you can imagine. Being prepared, no matter what, ensures your up-time and your continuity, even in the face of devastation. With a solid plan in place, that time off will be that much sweeter!
You're still going to have clients who want to squeeze the most they can get out of you before the end of the year. While the tendency is to buy into their anxiety, it won't always be possible to make them happy. Agreeing to unrealistic timelines is only going to get you in trouble. In doing so, you open yourself up to conflict, which is not a desirable state for anyone.
In best practice, you'll want to reach out to your clients well before the holiday push begins to make sure they have everything they need to end their year on a high note. Let them know well in advance when you will be unavailable and for how long. This will, hopefully, prevent any last-minute panic.
And don't forget about your return. You don't want to be coming back to a to-do list that could threaten to bury you. Tell your clients—and your employees—that you will return a few days after you're actually back. That way, you can ease into the swing of things, get up to speed on what's happened in your absence, and get a jump on problems before they hatch.
Acknowledge Your Loyal Customers
While you might not be able to reach out to each customer personally, there are plenty of ways to show you care. A personalized message of hope and thanks goes a long way to demonstrating how much you value their business.
You might think about offering a premium to reward their patronage in the new year. It could be a discount on your services, a free add-on to their next purchase, free shipping, a free consultation, or access to valuable information, like a free e-book or webinar – whatever seems appropriate that is yours to give.
Empower Your Star Employees
Before you leave on a winter vacation, think about who among your staff is ripe for new challenges. You know it's going to be quiet over the holidays, so the risk is low. It's an excellent opportunity to assign tasks that will allow them to show their creativity and initiative.
When you return, you can look forward to reading their report, seeing their results, and discovering just how much value they bring to the organization.
Don't Leave Anything Unsaid
It's never easy to address issues with staff or colleagues. However, the end of the year is the perfect time to set things straight. That way, you'll both be coming back from your time off fresh and unburdened by past grievances.
Sometimes these conversations are easier in theory than in practice. Keep in mind that you can't ignore a bad situation forever. Even if resolving the conflict causes a split, it is still a resolution, and one that had to happen so you could both move forward. Prepare yourself for whatever might happen, but don't avoid the issue for another year.
This goes double for difficult customers, too. If, in your review, you identify a client who continuously disrupts the status quo, costs you time, money, or upsets your staff, resolve to put an end to their reign of terror.
Unless they are a significant contributor to your bottom line, you need to craft an exit strategy that works for everyone. Your employees will thank you for it, and you'll have one less worry on your mind as the new decade begins.
Above all, you want to leave for your winter vacation free of worry and unencumbered by work-related problems. Clear up old business, acknowledge the good, and address those issues that might derail your time off – and if you need some expert support to get you through the process, schedule a call today. I'd love to show you how I can help.