I think we can all feel the holiday and yearend swooping in and things winding down where we work. The Christmas parties are in full swing and everyone is focused on making sure they get everything on their Christmas gift list. Next week is certain to be quiet in the office. For senior IT managers, here is a quick list of things to do as the year-end approaches:
1. Vacation overlaps: Re-check that you and your senior team are not all out on vacation and no one is left to mind the shop. If there’s a gap, given the timing, you need to be the one to fill it (besides, this way you’ll have an excuse when your spouse asks you to go to the store with return items).
2. Batch Cycles: With the upsurge in retail sales and other peaks this time of year, ask the production batch team to re-calibrate the peak processing time for batch runs in December, month-end and year end. It’s better to find out now you need to address capacity than at 3 am Sunday morning in the New Year and your company can’t close the books on time.
3. Feedback for your team: Spend some of your vacation time writing thoughtful performance reviews for your team. Start with your best and worst performers, they will get the biggest positive impact from a better writeup this year. For outstanding insight on competencies and how to coach, check out FYI: For Your Improvement by Lombardo and Eichinger.
4. Gain new insights: Spend another part of your vacation time reading a good management or IT book. The new perspectives experienced will help your fresh thinking in the new year. If you are looking for ideas then perhaps Magical Mathematics or The Rare Find or perhaps Great by Choice.
5. Start out proactively: Book time in January with your planning team to ensure you have the IT goals for 2012 clearly defined and map out the steps you will be taking to communicate it broadly. Otherwise you can get caught up on the first assignments that come in the door in 2012 and remain reactive the entire year.
6. Allocate the time for your customers: Ask your admin to ensure you have regular meetings scheduled every month with all of your business partners. You may already be doing this, but regular sessions are key to keeping in touch and providing great service.
7. Thank the team: Take your team out for a drink and thank them for the accomplishments for the year. Keep the evening clear of any assignments or negatives on missed deliveries. Everyone needs to be thanked and appreciated, and you’re likely to do enough ‘coaching’ of them the rest of the time.
8. Thank your admin: Your admin is the primary interface by which most people interact with you. If she or he has done well, make sure you thank them. And a nice gift is very reasonable — and ensure they do not get you one either. This would be on top of any formal bonus.
9. Thank your sponsors: Spend some quality time with your boss and whatever the challenges for the year have been, thank them for their support and the opportunities they have given you. Let them know you will be refreshed and ready to go for the new year.
10. Take time for yourself and your family: Make sure you take the time to decompress and reflect. Do whatever you need to do to relax and recharge. Focus on your family. Think about what went well and not so well. Identify the key things about you that you want to change in the new year. Save the how for another reflecting session. Make sure you walk into January with renewed strength and vigor and a focus and game plan on the new you.
For some of you, you have already either completed or will knock off all 10 items. For others, perhaps you have nearly all of them, but there is one or two items you can add to your list. If you are doing less than 5 of them, you need to make sure you do #10 so that you personally are ready for next year.
I hope your year has been successful and rewarding. And I trust that this blog has provided some insight for the last part of the year. Next year, I plan to make to continue to provide the regular posts and insights but have the best practices sections well-developed to enable a quick reference guide for IT management for you and your team.
All the best, and have a great holiday, Jim