Plan to go off line this Christmas and give your team the gift of a proper break

Are you in a mad dash to the end of 2018?

You probably have last minute targets to meet, end of year reports to write, goals to sign off on for 2019, final performance appraisals to lodge ...

And then there is the frenetic start to the new year waiting for us all, usually a time for sales kick off meetings, product and campaign launches, budget allocations and ...

Sandwiched in between, for many of us, are those precious days of the Christmas and New Year break. If you have children, not only do you want to make sure you don't miss the wonderful carol services and school plays, but we also have to be 'Santa ready', which usually means a constant whirl of shopping, wrapping, sending and general last minute dashes.

And yet Christmas is so precious. It's a magical time of year, when we want to be relaxed and engaged with our friends and family, but too often continue to have one foot in work, mentally, if not physically.

In our 'always on' world how can we make sure we, and our team take a proper break this Christmas? Unless you're clear with your team and your stakeholders what cover is available and what is expected, there may be unintended consequences with people feeling 'on the hook' even though they're taking holiday.

A client who leads a global marketing team admitted to me recently that she had never taken a full break from work. She considered checking work emails daily a normal activity that was somehow expected, even on Christmas Day. It's not too late to make sure this doesn't happen for you and your team this Christmas.

Here are a few practical tips to help you and your team get some proper down time, they're easy to implement but require you to consciously decide that you and your team need and deserve a proper break.

  1. Agree with your team what needs to be covered during the break and who can do it - be pragmatic and realistic. You will need to plan some contingency cover for illness etc.
  2. Agree this proposal for cover with some of your key stakeholders to ensure your plan meets their needs.
  3. Publish your schedule to everyone who may need to be in touch with your team over the break. Be clear with your internal and external customers and stakeholders what level of cover your team is offering along with contact details for the people who are covering your department on each day of the break. Ahead of the break, add these service cover details to websites, email sign offs and VM messages. Ensure you all use consistent language and are clear on the instructions for who to contact. Be clear that everyone else will be taking a full break and unless there is an emergency will not be picking up the phone or emails.
  4. Set up a text alert system within your management team. Use an escalation process so not everyone needs to be notified depending on the severity of the issue. Consider implementing a positive text each day, with the person on duty sending an 'all quiet today, no alerts' text which can let everyone exhale and enjoy the festivities.
Self care is so important for us to be the best we can be - at home and at work.

This Christmas give your team the gift of real down time because you collectively know you have a plan for the right cover, so you can all relax. I'd love to hear what ideas you have for helping you and your team achieve real down time. Maybe together we can help everyone have a great Christmas break. Please share this article if you think your network might benefit from this approach.

About me:

After 30 years in a successful corporate career, leading large teams and change programmes, I now work as a personal and business coach. I help leaders and their teams reach their highest potential and achieve the change they want, without sacrificing the things they value. Whether it's through 121 coaching or consultancy, my first priority is to support my clients in achieving meaningful results. 

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If you need to drive change in your business or you're looking for a leadership coach I may be able to help you get where you want to be for yourself, your team and your business. 

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