It's all about having a plan! Says Claire Walker, group CEO at Firefly Communications

It feels like just yesterday that I was imagining what I would be doing as the clock ticked over into the year 2000. I was on high alert, waiting for Y2K to switch off every electronic machine as the clock struck midnight (of course, we all know it didn’t).

19 years later and here we are preparing for the next milestone year 2020, and we’re in a somewhat similar situation with the uncertainty of Brexit. Before we know it, it will be 2050, Greta Thunberg will be 47 and we might not even be living on this planet anymore.

Vision on

It’s important to have a vision to aim for. A three-to-five year vision is recommended, but we should have a clear view and a structured plan of how to manage the imminent months. There will be few agencies and clients looking as far as 2050, many will be imagining as far ahead as 2025, but most should have 2020 buttoned down with a detailed plan.

As we make progress towards our 2020 plans, it’s important to remember that this time of year is busy for the PR industry. Christmas campaigns are well underway, client events and awards season is in motion, not to mention office parties and networking opportunities with clients and prospects and all in the next 60 days or so before we head off for Christmas.

New year

And then, on top of all that, January is a time of ‘new year, new change’ for many organisations with 2020 initiatives bursting forth, not to mention some clients looking for new agencies so we’re also furiously re-pitching or excitedly pitching to keep or win clients.

How do we cope with all these demands crashing down at the same time? With political tension and upheaval, workloads revving up to breaking point, plus year-end accountability and reviews, and 2020 plans poised and ready to ignite and holiday season is looming.

Holiday dump

On behalf of our HR tech client, Cornerstone OnDemand, we surveyed British employees about extra workloads during the holiday season finding that 34% of employers do not have a structure in place when someone goes holiday, 85% have to do someone else’s work on top of their own workload, and 34% feel extreme pressure or have anxiety attacks when colleagues are on holiday.

Is there a word for having someone else’s business workload dumped on you, on top of your own workload? How about ‘I’ve been bizumped’?

Top tips

Bizumped or not, how will your year-end workload impact you? And how will it impact on your colleagues? Well, you usually can’t avoid it; business doesn’t just stop. But here are some top tips for handling heavy workloads during the busy autumn/winter season and how to avoid any nightmares in the run up to 2020:

  1. Set clear objectives. Make sure to have comprehensive plan in place to make sure your colleagues know exactly what you are doing and what they’re doing ensuring to outline any potential problems that may arise. Workload dumping is bad.
  2. Trust your colleagues. Extra workloads mean more delegating and learning to trust your colleagues. Start on the small tasks first to establish the trust and then go on to give bigger responsibilities. Delegation is good.
  3. Know your ‘go to’ resources. Set out roles and responsibilities when planning the November and December rush so that everyone knows who to go to when they need help. Try to anticipate issues before they arise.
  4. See it as an opportunity to grow. Busy periods can give you a chance to shine and show your managers that you’re capable of handling pressure. Use it to your advantage.

Written by Claire Walker, group CEO at Firefly Communications Group