Now, there is a kiwi specific cultural phenomenon that happens for those in the workforce in December.
What happens is that every project you have ever touched or been associated with during the previous 11 months (and indeed some that you haven’t) suddenly has to ABSOLUTELY be finished by Christmas Eve, OR THE WORLD WILL END. End, I tell you.
All joking aside, it’s actually super stressful. Due to the fabulously extended January holidays we all enjoy this creates a real pressure cooker environment which can lead to a) massive overwhelm before Christmas b) utterly unrealistic expectations that can never be met c) not enough time for Chrimbo shopping or drinking egg nog with colleagues whilst wearing festive antlers.
Northern Hemisphere peeps will be back at work as usual on the 3rd of January, whilst most Kiwi’s will be drinking cold ones for another 4 weeks, so clearly – we win! No one would want to give up their January. BUT – can we reach it without descending into Xmas Madness?
Here are a few tips you can put into place today:
1. Get really clear, really really clear, that the working world will not in fact end at midday on the 24th December. Do not buy into the madness.
2. Set some expectations NOW. Get ahead of the game whether by a team meeting, or email or whatever. Set some expectations NOW on what you can deliver by when. Communicate with staff / customers / clients / suppliers / colleagues and so on expectation and timelines. Be confident and set your boundaries on what is realistic.
3. Beware the hospital pass. Veeeery common at this time of year is the colleague whistling in a project and making it your problem, when in fact they have sat on it procrastinating since June. Boundaries are required here, people. Don’t let your December get pulled into the madness because someone else has been fluffing about for the last 6 months. Use your “no” judiciously but firmly.
4. Accept some stuff will just not get done before Christmas. This is okay because a) the world will not end (see point 1), and b) it means you have a job to come back to.
5. Make time for some fun. The seriousness of the Xmas Madness can suck the joy out of a normally happy workplace as everyone feels so under the gun with this end of year deadline. Remember that this is the season of goodwill unto all men, and make sure you allow enough space for laughs and thank you’s and celebrations too.
We are still far enough away that you can do some really effective (read: ruthless!) scheduling and expectation management now.
Head off the Xmas Madness at the pass, don’t make it an inevitable part of your working December.
After all you’ve got eggnog and festive antlers to attend to.