December 14, 2010 HR, Human Resources, Leadership, Management

Managing the holiday rush

The holiday season can be tough when managing your business and your employee needs.  Some businesses may slow down until after the New Year. However, others pick up because as year-end approaches there are numerous internal tasks that need to be completed and the clock’s ticking. It can make even the calmest of managers a little crazy.

It starts around Thanksgiving and goes for the next 6 weeks give or take a few days.  Assorted parties, kid’s pageants and other school festivities, shopping, and other family commitments can make it hard to maintain a level of staffing and service that your customers expect. How do you keep your employees happy and still get everything done?

When I managed a very busy call center, I asked my managers to do certain things to make things a little less hectic during this time as well as allow them to truly take their time off when they were not in the office.  It takes some discipline, but it does work.  Here are some tips for maintaining productivity and focus when the holiday season is in full swing.

  • Alternate vacations and time off so everyone has an opportunity to have a holiday off.  This is especially important when you have a 24 hour operation.  A manager typically needs to be on call, if not in the office and it helps to have different people take the responsibility.
  • Let people announce their personal schedules in a central place, and make sure everyone can access it.
  • People should be clear about when they’ll be available for contact, when they’ll be away, and vitally important is how to best reach them if it’s critical.
  • Make sure everyone has a back up in the event one manager can’t be reached there is a back-up.  It’s really frustrating for those that must be at work not to have someone to contact in an emergency.
  • Everyone needs to be clear about what has to be accomplished by which deadlines. When they get done early and you have the flexibility allow people to leave early. It’s a small gift of time that is appreciated.
  • Let everyone know what the official holiday office schedule is and who to contact if a particular office is closed. This is especially important when you have employees in different locations, with different time zones.  If an employee is trying to manage a difficult situation, they need to know who they can call for help.

For some people this time of year is a time to relax, enjoy themselves and recharge their batteries. For others it’s stressful and hard to be productive. It’s up to the leader to set the goals, set the tone and help people be their best.