The holidays are often a time when organizations slow down, employees take a vacation or mentally check out, and innovation declines. Often times, the focus shifts to what will be done in the new year, and as a result, an entire month of productivity can be lost.
If you want to keep innovation strong in your organization over the holidays, you need a plan backed by easy to execute tactics. Here are seven ways to do it.
Manage the Vacation Schedule
The first step to keeping innovation strong over the holidays is a commitment from management not to put off new ideas until the new year. Manage the vacation schedule carefully so that all of your best staff members aren’t gone at the same time. Make sure that key innovation teams have people in the office all month, so ideas don’t dry up. However, do use the holiday season vacation schedule to allow your team to recharge and refocus.
Communicate the Plan
It can be easy to lose communication with stakeholders during the holiday season. Each part of your company is managing their holiday leave and plans, and it’s easy to forget to communicate until January. To keep innovation strong, communicate with stakeholders about what project plans you have during the holidays, who will be in the office, and who to reach out to if there’s a question. When you communicate the plan, stakeholders will feel confident about your projects during the holiday season.
With a higher level of vacation leave, you may have employees covering each other’s work for a period of time. This is a great time to cross-train employees into new roles and tasks. In fact, you can use the holiday season as a time to give someone a chance in an expanded role before an official promotion. Cross-training doesn’t have to be complex. You can have employees film simple how-to videos or create checklists detailing their work so someone else can cover for them while they’re gone.
Have Employees Create Cheat Sheets
Along the same lines, the holiday season can be a great time to have employees create a “cheat sheet” of their key job functions. Even if they don’t plan on being gone for an extended period of time, having a clear checklist or description of core functions for each role can be very important. If someone has an extended illness or leaves the company suddenly, these cheat sheets can be a saving grace. If you created cheat sheets last year, have everyone review and update them.
Consider Bonuses or Gifts to Inspire Innovation
Because the holiday season can be a time where people are less focused on work and less inspired with new ideas, it can be a great time to introduce innovation bonuses or gifts. You can run contests, have a drawing, or give gifts to top innovators. This can create a buzz around innovation during a traditionally unfocused time of year.
Volunteer as a Team and Collect Feedback
During the holidays, many people are in a mood to give back. There’s no reason your organization has to miss out on that spirit. When you have teams volunteer, consider finding ways to volunteer that help your customers or clients. Not only does this build goodwill, but you can gather feedback from your customers and clients about your products and services. That’s a definite win-win for innovation.
Remember to Take Vacation Yourself
As a leader, you certainly want to take the lead and set an example of hard work during the holiday season. However, it’s vital for you to rest and relax as well. No one can come up with great innovative ideas when they are stressed, overworked, or burned out. Don’t be afraid to take some time off. You may come up with the most incredible idea while you’re resting at home.
Innovation can stay strong during the holidays if you plan ahead. If you feel like you’re not making the progress you expect, download the Barriers to Innovation infographic to take the first step to improving innovation today.