With less than five weeks till most break up for Christmas, many out there may be nervous about achieving annual targets, considering the usual seasonal distractions. As the holiday spirit takes hold, Christmas parties and holiday planning can challenge employee focus and momentum, risking productivity at a key time. However, avoiding the title of office Scrooge can be tricky in considering business needs as well as employee well-being.
A recent study* across 2,858 SME’s published by senior marketing director of Office Depot, Christine Nessen, found that almost one-quarter of small business owners are concerned with productivity during the hectic holiday season. Nearly one-third have concerns over achieving end-of-year (EOY) cash-flow positions and maintaining momentum.
Chasing overdue invoices, short-term redeployment of staff from less time critical tasks, even hiring seasonal staff are all common remedies to help cash-flow, but these can be gift wrapped in their own distraction factor if not carefully managed. As obvious as it seems, communicating the important, as well as the urgent, in a focused employee brief can be hugely beneficial to align focus. How management view priorities may not always be obvious from the employee viewpoint so it’s usually worthwhile clarifying. A few short briefings to focus the minds can help get everyone on the same page.
However, it’s not too late to achieve EOY productivity through rapid improvements aimed at shortening process times to get more done. For very little time invested, identifying ‘process waste’ always provides a significant ROI. This type of activity has longevity too, ‘it’s not just for Christmas’! It is no substitute for running improvement events that address the systemic strategic issues, however as a parallel ‘quick hit’ it can help as a form of customer protection.
It’s amazing the impact that a 3-day accelerated improvement event can have when you group the right process knowledge in the room and facilitate a targeted event at a specific process area. At the end of the event you should have a improved process ready to implement. 20-30% lead-time saving is not unusual, creating time to complete additional work on time before Christmas.
If you have improvement specialists, ask them to facilitate one of these types of events. Here is a 8-step plan to get this type of activity moving …
- Define the most at risk deliverables to EOY plan.
- Identify the processes directly associated to those outcomes.
- Conduct high-level, rapid mapping to localise bottlenecks.
- Define the level of improvement needed to meet EOY requirements. This may not optimise the process, it may not be the ‘perfect solution’.
- Refine the ‘scope’ to remain focussed on priority activities most in need of improvement.
- Look across boundaries to spot others involved in lower priority work to support.
- Run the events – actions need rapid implementation with visible, immediate management support.
- Use the generated time to address the EOY business needs.
Hopefully the summary provokes ideas on how to deliver your EOY goals. Whether you intend to, rally employee focus through communication, redeploy resource from less important tasks, or conduct improvement events. If you do need support in delivering improvement, or have specific questions then New Potential are able to help so please call.
by Gavin Jones -New Potential
*Business News Daily Article: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/9541-small-business-holiday-challenges.html