Summer tends to conger up the feeling that there is a slowdown of work. With more people choosing the summer to take vacation times, there can often be slower turn-around times when trying to get things done as a group. Depending on the industry sector, there can be lower customer sales and less requests for support or information. The weather is better and people tend to dress more casually, reflected in a comfortable and casual atmosphere in the office.
With the summer now drawing to close, I thought it might be a bit of fun to reflect on some of the things I like to do myself and within my teams with these loose cycles to regenerate, keep motivated and get things done. I invite people to comment on this post as to what they do as well.
I’ve only worked at one company that implemented summer hours – and I loved it. A policy that meant, if your individual assignments allowed for it, that during the period from the July long weekend until Labour Day you could clock off at 2pm on Fridays. Not only did this allow for people to hit the freeways earlier on weekends away to cottage country, I believe it adds to morale and productivity. Knowing that you have a limited amount of time on Fridays to get things done generates a sense of urgency and focus, rather than the opposite inevitable clock-watching of people wanting to get out of the office and away.
Be Clear on Delegates and Boundaries for Decision Making
With many people on leave, it’s important to be clear on how decision making and tasks can still progress while management is away. This is important whenever anyone is on leave, just made more visible with more absences from the office.
Advertise the need for management decisions or approvals ahead of leave periods, and make sure it’s clear on who can be a substitute for decisions or what is considered a management quorum on approvals. Make sure any impacts to delays are understood.
Something that I found useful in the past is to divide up my responsibilities and delegate pieces to several people. That way one person is not overloaded with doing twice their work – and you can share out based on your team’s strengths. When in doubt, delegate up.
Take time for Lessons Learned
Often in the heat of the battle, when times are really busy and tasks become urgent, we lose the 30,000 foot perspective on how things can be done better. During slower times, it is useful to look back on past tasks to reflect on lessons learned and suggestions for improvements.
Get those put-off projects and tasks done
If there are more free cycles, then review your list of important yet not urgent tasks and projects to see if you can make progress on any of them. We “should” always find time for these. In slower times it’s all the more critical to make sure that current projects don’t just expand to use up the time. Reviewing your back-log to-do list can result in filling the time more effectively.
On to autumn
Maybe I should have written this post at the start of the summer! Late August is a little late to implement any of these ideas. We will all have that back-to-school feeling again soon. You can always file these ideas away in a back-log for next summer J Remember to post a comment if you have other suggestions.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Free Clip Art