I spend a LOT of time in cafes. Meetings, client check-ins, coaching, etc. One third of my blood is coffee by volume…
That much time at cafes means I hear an array of conversations, ranging from planning to fire people through to the great projects people are working on. This week (1st of Nov), I heard the dreaded seasonal line as I waited for the client to arrive:
“So what do you have planned for Christmas?”
The conversation that followed was about the plans to wind down, how current projects are wrapping up and even plans to search for a new job in the new year. I’ve been in Perth for nearly 8 years and the pre-holiday shut down is something I’ve come to loathe. Not because of the holidays, but because of the mindset impairments it causes.
Let’s get stuck into how this affects your team’s mindset and what you can do to get some wins on the board before you head off into the sunset.
Mindset: Are you downshifting or kicking it into gear?
When I was learning to ride a motorcycle years ago, the instructor told me something that has stuck with me as a key lesson in life. He said “where you look is where the motorcycle goes. If you see danger, don’t fixate on it. Instead, focus on where you need to go to avoid it, and that’s where the motorcycle will go”. This concept is called Target Fixation.
In business and leadership, the same can be said about our mindset. Ever notice that the more you think about something happening, the more it tends to happen?
Confirmation Bias creeps in (where we then only see facts that validate our perceived truths) and suddenly we have a $hit storm of problems, biases and mindset dragging us towards an object that was completely neutral in it’s own right.
The TL:DR version of this? When you start to view the “holiday shut down” as this massive event that you can see just around the corner, your actions follow. That means that your conversations, actions and projects all start to slip into homeostasis, favouring calm idling over accelerated action. This gets amplified across the team and the business, with everyone now shifting into neutral as the holiday shut down approaches. No bueno.
The problem with this? There are 35 working days from when that conversation happened to the 20th Dec. That’s 7 weeks. Simple maths:
- 52 weeks in a year, with 5 work days per week
- Subtract 2 weeks for the 10 public holidays
- Subtract 4 weeks for annual leave
- Subtract 1 week for sick leave / personal days
- Equals 45 working weeks per year
7 / 45 weeks is 16% of the working time for the year.
Are you happy to ‘coast’ along in neutral for 16% of your working year? Are you happy for your team to? NOPE.
Here’s a quick audit to help you get some final wins on the board
Rather than coasting, we can view this end of year period as an accelerator. We have 7 weeks to smash goals, get that project moving full steam ahead and go into the break feeling accomplished. Here are some things you can do to make that happen:
- Start with you. Here are a few starting points to keep your mindset on track and make big things happen:
- Make a list of the things causing you daily frustration. Is it that debtors list that needs attention? What about that IT project that’s been on the back-burner while you’ve focused on operations?
- Define success. Kicking it into high gear before the shut down doesn’t mean being unreasonable with yourself. Think about 2-3 big ticket things you’d like to achieve and define those specifically. Knowing what success will look like makes you more likely to stay in the race till the end.
- Think about how you’ll feel as you put your out of office on. One of the best ways to power through that list (once you’ve made it) is to think about how you’ll feel on the 20th of Dec when you put your out of office on. Will you look back over the 7 weeks and feel like you did all you could?
- Engage the team
- Acknowledge effort. It’s around this time of year where people start to feel flat, hence the focus on the holiday closure. People need the recharge, but you can get that little bit more out of the team if you’ve kept them engaged and acknowledged all the effort that’s gone in to their work. Never underestimate the power of genuine praise.
- Seek opportunities. The team will know where the pain and opportunities for improvement are. Leaders should be unpacking this routinely, but now is a good time to understand where they view opportunities for change.
- Get specific. With praise and opportunities now shared, it’s time to get commitment from the team to making things happen in the final sprint. You have to create excitement and specific goals. Then, support the team in making those happen. These should be revisited WEEKLY to ensure momentum builds.
- Set the finish line. Ever notice all the fanfare at the end of a race? You have to do the same for you and the team. If you’re all in and committed, celebrate the success. Have drinks, a dinner or whatever with the team scheduled for the end of the race. During the get together, celebrate all that was achieved in just seven short weeks.
We all have choices to make on how we choose to view typical business situations. The holiday race can be a casual walk or a dash, that’s up to you.
Whether you are going it alone or need a partner in crime (like us), planning and follow through are key to getting it right. Want to chat about enhancing your team performance (while removing the pain)?
You’ve got this!