How to manage the holiday season

Now that we're entering November, we're officially hitting the time of year that we love on a personal angle but hate from a business perspective. The holiday season is a great opportunity to get away from the office and spend time with friends, family and loved ones. It's a chance to travel to see those we care about and, most importantly, relax for a little while. Unfortunately, the current business landscape is such that we often feel like we can't relax. As a result, the state of the office can be a bit of a nightmare during the holiday season. Throw in the fact that many organizations have end-of-year deadlines and you can run into serious problems.

Overcoming these obstacles requires the work of a strong managerial presence who can alleviate any concerns regarding vacation schedules and a lack of help during the holiday season. Here are three things managers should do to help with this effort:

Set an official time-off policy and enforce it – Most people are going to want to take time off during the holidays, but unfortunately you can't have the entire team go on vacation. Long before the holiday season, preferably in early September, have your managers announce that holiday time off will be based on a first-come, first-served policy. Give the team a deadline to take time off. If there are extenuating circumstances such as a potential vacation that hasn't yet been finalized, make sure that the employee in question communicates with his or her manager and keeps them up-to-date at all times. Those who have to work should be given first pick of vacation time the following year if they want it.

Communicate with customers – If your company in in the service industry in the B2B sector, fortunately many of your customers will also be off. However, you should still communicate the fact that you will be operating with a short team and implement protocols to handle escalated inquiries.

Assign tasks to others – Someone who stays in the office during the holidays may have an official set of responsibilities to manage while their colleagues are away. Make sure they know what they are and are properly trained.

Columbia Consulting Group can help find the executives and senior managers who can follow these suggestions and effectively lead a team during this difficult time of year.