Sticky solutions to your everyday business challenges
Question: I manage a team of 12 in a public accounting firm in Austin, Texas. Although the lead-up to April 15th is our busiest time of the year, we also perform bookkeeping, consulting and auditing tasks throughout the year for our individual and corporate clients. This month, five members of our team will be on vacation at the same time. How do I keep the rest of my team productive while everyone else is taking time off?
Answer: Not only is nearly half your team out of the office this time of year, but so are many others your team typically relies on to maintain productivity. Emails to your client’s attorneys, insurance agents, bankers, or their support staff get a prompt “I’m out of the office until… For immediate response contact…” reply. It can feel like no matter where you turn, everyone else seems to be having fun while you and your team are left to keep things running. Instead of being a victim to the summer slump, here are three ways you can make the most of the month:
1. Use this as an Opportunity Stress Test
Before anyone leaves for vacation, encourage strong communication between team members so that if one is covering for another while they’re away, both know what needs to be done. Having well-documented processes ensures nothing falls through the cracks. Hold weekly team meetings this month to mine for anything that may be in danger of sliding. Make note of any breakdowns in knowledge transfer so that you can create reinforcements in communication and processes when your whole team is back in the office.
2. Take a Hike
Instead of one-on-one meetings indoors, invite each member of your team for a walk outdoors. Let them share what’s going on in their world that you typically don’t have time to address when things are busy. You’ll both get some fresh air, take a break from the office, and strengthen your relationship. It’s also a great way to spark new ideas, gain inspiration, and re-energize before returning to the office.
3. Fix the Roof While the Sun is Shining
If things are too slow to be productive on tasks you typically do when it’s busy, take this opportunity to look for areas that don’t usually get attention. Purge files. Organize digital folders. Bring in tech support to optimize the video conference equipment that no one seems to be able to master. This is a great time to clear the decks and get ready for the next wave of work.