Make the Holidays Work for You

Last Updated Nov 24, 2009 3:25 PM EST

I heard it twice last week: "Well, next week's Thanksgiving, and then comes Christmas and all those holiday parties so nothing's really going to happen until January."

Bah! Humbug! Okay, I'm not much of an Ebenezer Scrooge. But let's face it; if your business is party planning, the holidays are a boom time. Otherwise, you may as well roll up the carpet and hang a "Gone Fishing" sign on the door, right? Wrong.

If you're resigned to lost productivity and plummeting effectiveness during the holidays, it's just like handing market share to your competitor. Why? Because, if they're smart - and I'm sure they are - they'll be planning new programs for the new year. That's right, the holidays are actually the best time to initiate change programs, strategic planning, or brainstorm innovative ideas. Anything out of the ordinary.

Why? Well, I'm not entirely sure. This is empirical observation - it just works. Still, I can take a stab at it.
First, this time of year the days are cold, the nights are long, and people don't hibernate, so they become bored and antsy. Second, the holidays are inspiring - people tend to become animated and optimistic. Third, folks start getting into a freewheeling party spirit, so if you can get them out of their daily doldrums and into a brainstorm or planning session, they'll be up for it.

Anyway, trust me; it works. In fact, whether you're looking for a new career, a small business owner, department manager, division VP, or CEO of a Fortune 100 company, here are ...
5 Ways to Make the Holidays Work For You:

  1. Initiate your annual strategic planning process or just an annual review of your company's or group's overarching mission, objectives, strategies, whatever. If you hold weekly meetings starting in November, you should be able to finish and be ready to hit the ground running the first week of January.
  2. Initiate development on a new program or SOP. Maybe the timing's not right for your strategic plan. Instead, review your company's SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and plan to upgrade or fill in the gaps. Or initiate development of a new website, CRM program, whatever you need.
  3. Brainstorm new business ideas or opportunities with your staff. Kick it off with a motivational pitch, team-building exercise, or just dinner and drinks. Then assign each person to bring an idea to the table, analyze a competitor, whatever. Coalesce on one or two changes and you're there.
  4. Conduct a 360 review. Sure, the holidays are a great time for reflection. But don't reflect on your own subjective and tainted memories; get an objective perspective from your employees, peers, and boss. Conduct a 360 review of your management style and ability and have your staff to do the same.
  5. Initiate a 5-Step Career Turnaround. Conduct your own personal SWOT analysis, develop your value proposition, or brainstorm ideas for starting your own business or making changes to your existing one. Hey, that's what I'll be doing.
In any case, doing this stuff during the holidays means you're not doing some other time of the year when you and your folks should be hitting the streets working, right? Right.