Labor Day weekend seems to be a yearly turning point for many businesses. It is a time to shake off the business doldrums brought on by summer’s beautiful weather and the siren call of the beach and the mountains. It is a “get serious” moment as it signifies the push through the last few months of the year. Many leaders need to have a highly successful post- Labor Day to have a good year. There is a desire for renewed energy as everyone realizes they need a little bit of extra effort to hit their numbers.
This return to normalcy could be viewed in both a positive or negative light. On the positive side, leaders have recognized that their troops need some time to re-charge their batteries. They have planned out their year so the summer is lower key but still productive. They have carefully put things in place during the summer to enable their employees to successfully ramp up after the holiday. Most businesses have ebbs and flows in their calendars and utilizing them to be productive is critical. Taking inventory, cleaning or re-configuring warehouses, doing strategic planning, holding company outings- all can take place when things are a bit slower. Leaders shouldn’t waste this time. They should use it to go into the fall months with momentum. So summer is part of the yearly plan to achieve certain objectives.
On the other hand, if the summer months have been treated as down time for the company as a whole, without thought or planning, it is awful hard to start September with all cylinders firing. Just as you never see a pitcher going into a game without warming up or an orchestra start a concert without tuning up for fear of disastrous results, business leaders need to recognize that a warmup is important. Failure to do a re-set on the year’s goals and objectives could leave employees without sufficient focus. It could be like returning from a long trip in a very different time zone. Folks are a bit disoriented and not quite with it. The time it takes to get up to speed is lost time for a company, time that cannot be recovered. Those who believe that things can get back to normal automatically after being in first gear for a couple of months are fooling themselves.
Summer can be viewed as an attitude. Leaders can make it a positive one by allowing employees the time they need to get away from work, pursue their interests and enjoy their families so they bring energy to their work when they return. But there also has to be an ongoing sense of purpose and business as usual which is part of that. And those returning from vacation need to be brought back into any new initiatives or processes quickly so they can be motivated and engaged.
The fall is usually a busy time in business, but there are obstacles. Think about the next big time challenge- Thanksgiving to the end of the year. For retailers (including e-retailers) it is make or break and there is no thought of slacking off. Their teams need to be ready and excited for that. For many businesses there is a belief that nobody is available to do business during that period so they think of it as a slow time. Many think their deadlines are “soft” rather than “hard”, assuming the customers or clients are taking it a bit easy. That is an old wives’ tale. Make sure that business goes on, calls are made, meetings are held and commitments are kept. At the very least you will be setting up the first quarter of next year. The more excuses you make, the more you will find, and soon you will be in full swing only half of the year. Picture what that could do to your numbers.
Businesses cannot afford to ignore the opportunities that exist in their perceived slow times. There is always much to do, even if key people go on vacation. The work of the organization should not stop. We always complain there is never enough time. There would be more if people used what is there more effectively. Company core values and the behaviors that support them need to be followed year round.
On another note, there was a story in a recent Wall Street Journal article that had a headline that started with “Wouldn’t it be nice…” It led me to think of a few things that fall into that category.
Wouldn’t it be nice if:
I know there are a lot more. Any suggestions?