Set Up Q4 for High Productivity
In the seven weeks before Thanksgiving, leaders need to accomplish two parallel team-based goals:
- Keep the team moving towards the final 2017 outcomes you desire
- Start setting up Q1 2018 for a comfortably fast start.
Administrative loose ends also need tying up, particularly in the setting up a relatively painless annual review process (if your organization unfortunately still requires them.)
The biggest productivity challenge, of course, is the looming Holiday Season, which now kicks in by mid-October with the tricks and treats of Halloween. Act now to set these next three months up to be a joyful and less stressful time for all.
As we recommend every quarter, but especially in the fourth quarter, meet now with each employee plan the next few months out.
Refocus their immediate priorities
- Which assignments absolutely need to get done before the end of the year?
- Which need attention but will extend into 2017? What needs to happen to make this priority see progress early in the New Year?
- Which are off the rails and cannot recover before January, and you can afford to go back-burner?
How can you help each team member with these three areas of focus? What resources or conversations can you have with other resource leaders to help move projects along?
Set up their Holiday schedule NOW
When does the employee need to be out of the office for personal events and traveling during the Holidays? Add all employee dates to a Master Team Holiday Schedule.
Force everyone to take time off, if they haven’t yet this year. Also consider giving each employee two half-day passes for shopping and other holiday errands in December. A few hours off in the morning or afternoon gives the employee a chance to run errands while the rest of the world is at work. That sense of accomplishment can really reduce employee stress, because both the personal and professional to-do lists are packed in a busy time of year.
Collaborate on obtaining a successful Performance Review
When January dawns, the annual performance review process starts. Work with each employee now to make that process less painful. Have a frank discussion about their progress, and put a plan in place to make progress in areas of lesser performance between now and December 31.
- Target the completion of key projects by year-end.
- Start collecting proof of each employee’s progress for the year (something you should have been doing since January 1, but start now if you haven’t.)
- Find the gaps in the performance record/documentation that need filling, to avoid rushing around in January to create “proofs of performance” after the fact.
Work with Superiors on First Quarter priorities
While your team works on finishing off 2017 in style, you need to keep laying the groundwork for 2018 with your boss and his or her superiors. The 2018 strategic plan should be done (one hopes!)
- Ask for the information you need to prepare your team and your collaborative teams for the new priorities.
- Start lining up the connections and resources you and your team think you will need to get started quickly in January.
Overall, you really want to use October and November to set up a festive, joyous, not-to-stressful December. Lay out exactly what needs to get done, and how much time each employee needs for personal holiday events. Reduce workplace stress. Make it a group project with your team to strike the right balance of Holiday work and play!