Monday, 9 November 2009

The Christmas Dally... and other management dances

Right about now, leaders and their teams all over the UK (and probably all over several other countries too) will be making plans for the thousands of things they want to achieve, change, implement and address in their sphere of influence. (Indeed, if they are anything like me, they'll be planning to address things in other people's sphere of influence too). If I was the gambling type, I'd be prepared to bet that much of this planning centres on things to be done 'after Christmas'. For years now I have observed, with increasing frustration, our working year being gradually eroded by an acceptance that the months of July and August are 'dead' due to holidays and that December is 'dead' due to the Christmas break.... in my world of education, you can add 'April' (Easter), 'June' (exams) and 'September' (new academic intake) into the dead pool too. Leaving only half of the year to do a year's worth of leading & managing... As far as I can tell, it has just been accepted by the majority of leaders that these 'limbo' periods not only exist but are perpetuated.

Let's draw a line under it. Whatever can be done in January can just as easily be done in December, or better still right now.

You, as a leader, cannot accept the posponement of important leadership action to improve performance (and, let's face it, if the action isn't designed to do that, then why the heck are you doing it at all?) just because it's 'not worth trying to do it in December' or, (and I've actually heard this said in the last couple of weeks), because 'if you do it just before Christmas people will have forgotten by the time they come back'.... If we really think so little of our people, or if we believe they truly have the retentive powers of an elderly goldfish, we need to ask ourselves some hard questions. For my part, I have even been able to recall things from 2 or even 3 months ago without recourse to hypnosis and confidently expect to be able to recall the events of December with some clarity well into the new year.

Frankly, in my view the holidays are just an excuse to procrastinate. If something needs doing and is important....

Do it now.

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