The end of the year is upon us and no matter what we are celebrating, we all have something in common…meetings! We look excitedly at our calendar and secretly hope our regularly scheduled meetings will auto-magically drop from view and any work associated with them may disappear until January. While this may sound wonderfully satisfying in the midst of December burnout, it is not only a recipe for disaster in January but also a huge expense to a company and its customers. So what little things can we do to help make sure we each do our part to plan ahead and make sure our schedules do not have a domino effect? Here are a few ways to help continue running effective meetings at the end of the year.
Make Your Holiday Schedule Visible
You don’t have to tell everyone where you are going on vacation or if you plan to stay inside with pj’s and Elf on instant repeat. But let’s be fair to all of those who have to coordinate multiple schedules for meetings and put your planned paid time days off (PTO) on the calendar.
By putting your time on the calendar, it saves meeting organizers and managers time from having to ask, guess, or assume. It also enables them to look at schedule concerns or conflicts around the busy holidays and make logical decisions that should work for those available. It is very frustrating to a meeting scheduler who takes the time to schedule a meeting, only to receive a message from someone that says, “I am on vacation” when the calendar time had not been blocked. They are not mind-readers so help them out by blocking your time off in advance.
Once you have updated your schedule, proactively notify those it may impact the most. For any meetings you may miss, let each meeting organizer know the date(s) you will be missed and whether there will be a responsible party in your absence (that is not also on vacation) or alternative dates and times should the organizer need to reschedule. Doing this as far in advance as possible because, inevitably, others will also be on breaks and scheduling becomes more difficult. It is easy to think that since the “whole company” will be out, sitting silent is acceptable however, you could be the reason the company is more effective in December because even one person has the power to set off a positive chain reaction due to proactivity and preparedness.
Reduce Meetings If Possible
It is clear that around the end of the year, with many company-paid holidays and employees using up vacation, there will naturally be less people available for meetings. Review all regularly scheduled meetings and find ways to minimize 60 minute meetings to 30 or cancel or combine meetings to get the most out of those available. Plan agendas thoroughly in advance using a meeting tool like Docket and if there is nothing to discuss or if the right people are unavailable, cancel and reschedule for when the meeting can be most productive. While it is the end of the year, having a meeting just to get everyone together for sentimental reasons or cadence consistency is not enough for the expense a meeting can be.
Shift Meetings In Advance
Assuming meeting organizers have access to the latest calendar information from their wonderfully proactive personnel, then meeting organizers should help alleviate the scheduling nightmare the end of year can be by looking ahead at meetings during holiday weeks and attempting to move them to dates prior to the rush of vacations and limited attendance. Reach out to meeting guests in advance and request schedules be updated by a specific date to enable you to shift meetings or cancel meetings where agendas will be light. The sooner this is done, the easier it will be to keep meetings on the calendar.
When working remotely during the busy end of year season, do your best to keep connected by sharing your video during online video conferencing calls. Communication is much better face to face and will reduce frustration and misunderstanding during an already stressful time. Make it fun with holiday decor or ugly sweaters or just give a smile to those who may need it!
Before you head out, share a message to those who rely on you to know when you will be back, who your backup is, how you can be reached, and anything else mission-critical. Do not just assume you can escape quietly and dump this into your automated out of office. Be courteous and wish everyone a good new year!
It is so easy to bust out of work mode to finish up last-minute holiday shopping, hit a restaurant with friends, or hit the play button on Elf. However, seasonal depression, otherwise known as January, isn’t far away. Make a mental note of what you face upon your immediate return. If the schedule or work due does not jive with your schedule, deal with it in advance by setting expectations with those around you to ensure everyone starts the year off right!