Author and philosopher Sam Keen said, “Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” That’s true for beach-going and fishing, but leading a business or team of employees requires productivity year-round. Here are five tips to avoid summer slow-down at work.
1. Gain More Knowledge The staggering of vacations that is common in most companies slows productivity. Either the person required to approve the project is out of the office or the one needed to complete the project is absent. Rather than twiddle your thumbs or pretend to look busy, learn something that will enhance your role as a leader or that will improve the business’ systems and service delivery.
Enroll in a college short course, a seminar, webinar or conference;
Read a book relevant to your business and share what you learn with your team;
Assess your company’s cross-training and learn to do another employee’s job;
Begin a mentoring relationship with a business-leader you admire.
It is important for company leaders and every member of your team to commit to life-long learning. Make learning a priority when productivity wanes in the “deep summer.” Talk show personality and financial guru, Dave Ramsey agrees:
“The average millionaire reads a book a month. Leaders are readers. But that’s just one way to gain more knowledge. Find a mentor, network with fellow business leaders, or attend seminars or other business events.”
2. Meet New People During peak business times, it is hard to find time for lunch, coffee or cocktails with old friends or prospective clients. If your schedule is more open, then there is a good chance that others can find time too. Make a list of people you have been “meaning to call.” Set lunch or coffee dates with no specific agenda other than to learn more about that person and what they do. Sarah Field with the Small Business Administration recommends:
“…host your own networking event. Any type of open house or get together is a great way to not only celebrate and thank your customers and colleagues, but to find new ones.”
You can also host a seminar or “lunch and learn” for prospective clients – something short and light, not long and detailed. Consider joining a civic or business group, but be sure you can commit the time to it when the summer slow-down subsides.
3. Spend Time with Your Team Summer is a great time to demonstrate an interest in your team members and the team as a whole. Without the pressure of formal performance evaluations that impact salary or bonuses, meet one-on-one and listen to your team members. Find out what is going on in their personal lives, what is frustrating about their jobs and how you can help them achieve greater satisfaction. Also consider convening your team for a time of goal-setting, evaluation of company progress and end with fun activities that promote cohesiveness and build trust. In a larger organization, limit the gathering to a group of supervisors or a particular department that generally does not receive much attention.
4. Start That Delayed Project Inventory, tax preparation, digitizing documents are all about as fun as watching paint dry. However, when summer is over and your days are hectic, you will be glad these important, but mundane tasks are crossed off your list. Nellie Akalp writing for smallbiztrends.com suggests:
“Meet with a tax adviser to see if there’s anything you should be doing this year (whether it’s changing your business structure or increasing your expenses and distributions) to optimize your tax position.”
Rather than dictating that a project be started and completed by your team members, this is a time to roll up your sleeves and work side by side with your team. Show them you can get your hands dirty too.
5. Take Some Time for Just You Maybe you have returned recently from a family vacation or have one planned. Let’s face it, family vacations are fun, but exhausting. Few people return refreshed, energized and ready to get back to work. Carve out some time during the summer just for you. Read, fish, hike or just sleep-in. Do whatever refuels your engine. Two weeks or a long weekend, take what you need to recharge. Once refreshed you will come back to work ready to finish the summer strong.
Summer slow-down is not a certainty. Be deliberate and follow these suggestions and your summer will be productive. Beating the summer slow-down means an improved business and a better you.