XMAS IS COMING
Yes, I know, but indulge me. I personally refuse to shop anywhere playing Christmas music before December 1st - so it's Amazon again then.
However, there is a worthwhile business point to be made here about the festive season. I read somewhere (not The Sun) that more employees go back to work after the Christmas/New Year break and resign than at any other time of year.
And that's in spite of the year-end bonus (what do you mean, you don't give them one?), the Xmas box of wine (or whatever gifts you hand out - assuming you're not one of the many business Scrooges who don't give them anything), and in spite of the paid extended leave they've just enjoyed - up to a fortnight for many this year. No wonder the Scrooges are getting Scroogier: all that time off, and no revenue for the thick end of a month.
Indeed the reason so many resign on the 2nd or 3rd January is not in spite of the extended leave, but because of it. They've had time to stop and think - about their career, their life and their priorities.
For most of the year we spend our working lives just doing it, doing it, doing it. Indeed we spend far too much of the rest of our lives the same way: we are told that 'Actions speak louder than words'; our education system does not encourage critical thinking; we are actively discouraged from challenging the status quo.
It all conspires to stifle any creative thought - at any level and on any subject.
But after the presents have been unwrapped, the turkey consumed and the tV turned on, many people find, for the first time in months, a whole week or more with little on the 'must do' agenda, apart from a round of drinks parties with all the usual suspects (or is that just me?) And time to sit and think clearly about real priorities often leads to significant changes in direction.
Hence those New Year resignations.
TIME TO TAKE STOCK
And I'm not talking about the beef or chicken variety.
If a lot of your staff are all spending their Christmas break thinking about the meaning of life, the universe and everything, surely you should be too?
What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, to continue the culinary metaphors.
Where's the business going? What's it all for - its fundamental purpose? Assuming you can articulate a clear response to those two questions, all sorts of ancillary questions come piling out of the woodwork in quick succession.
Is the direction of travel being dictated by you or outside events? ("events, dear boy, events," as Harold Macmillan replied to the question about what he found it most hard dealing with as Prime Minister.) Is the structure of the business sound - ie do you have the right people doing the right things and making a profit into the bargain? Are you growing the core business offering, or being constantly distracted by shiny new things and ideas? Most urgently, are you spending 60+ hours a week, doing it, doing, doing it, at the expense of having time to plan business strategy and growth?
I could go on (and on), and given half a chance, I will.
But if you don't take time to sit still, stop doing and start thinking, no one else can do it for you. No advisor, consultant, coach or mentor; it's down to you, mate.
"What is this life if, full of care.
We have no time to stand and stare?"
Of all the many clients I've worked with over the years (decades regrettably), this is the one skill, quality, call it what you will, that they find most difficult to come to terms with. Because however good the intentions, just as the brain starts to gather thoughts, the phone rings, there's a knock at the door: your biggest client has a problem or is reviewing the business (or both); the lorry's broken down full of important deliveries; the cat's died.
There's always something - and of course there always will be. So if you don't force yourself to take the time to cut yourself off from the business, forcing it to run itself for a few hours/days, you'll always be on the wheel - running ever faster towards a heart attack/mid-life crisis/[insert your own likely scenario here].
So "Christmas is coming" should be treated not with the usual febrile disdain, but a welcoming embrace: time to put those thinking caps on.
Any time you'd like me to come and facilitate a thinking session with you and/or your colleagues - basically me asking a lot of impertinent questions that force you to some deeper consideration of the issues affecting you - just ask.
David Croydon: 01844 238692 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org