It can be argued that nothing much of significance occurs in the business world between Christmas and the New Year holiday. The bosses are (mostly) on vacation, those clients and vendors still open for business seem future-focused to the start of the new year, the phone isn't ringing all that much and many offices have only a skeleton staff. The pressure is off, folks are relaxed from phase 1 of holiday cheer and many are already looking forward to phase 2. Next week is soon enough to re-focus.
If you do have to make an appearance at work, it's a good time to share Christmas experiences with colleagues, to clean up your desk and files, take long lunches and in general idly pass the time until after the First. It's like your time is on automatic pilot.
Which is exactly why you should be careful with your actions, as hopefully your conscious is whispering in your ear. Because it's all too easy to take your eye off the ball during the holiday season. In the HR / Compensation world there are many moving parts right now. Lots of balls up in the air. If you're not careful, next week when the flow of business returns to normal, you might find yourself sitting behind that proverbial eight ball of "woe is me," playing catch-up and as a result setting bad precedents.
What Can Go Wrong?
Right now the annual incentive assessment and payment process is underway. Are the review forms being properly completed and submitted on time? Are you reading them?
Likely the annual merit review process (performance assessments) is also underway. Are those forms being prepared in a timely and appropriate manner?
Is the merit increase matrix the same one you used last year, and even the year before? Has anyone checked as to its continuing usefulness? Is that a rubber stamp I see on your desk?
The new annual incentive plan commences in a few days. Has the design been reviewed? Are managers being instructed as to the timing and construction of appropriate goals / objectives?
The new salary ranges have been approved, right?
If you have stock options and / or Long Term Incentives (LTIs), the new program initiative is upon you.
Has all of this been communicated to employees?
Pick one of the above. If you ignore it, if you let things slide along on automatic pilot you lose the opportunity to correct errors, to make improvements. You are condemning yourself to repeat whatever is wrong with the status quo. That's not supposed to be your role, is it?
The more you leave things alone as you relax through the holidays the more likely it is that you will take shortcuts and lose the opportunity to make effective change - because your time has run out.
During the course of my career I have seen this scenario played out time and time again. Taking your eye off the ball while the clock is ticking leaves you few opportunities to perform your job effectively during this hectic season of Compensation program finalization and initialization.
- Assessment forms aren't even read, but merely checked off as having been submitted.
- Someone digs out the announcement memos from last year and changes the date. Done!
- Annual objectives for the closing year are assumed correct, even as written at the last moment (now).
- New objectives can be promised for eventual submittal. "Soon," they'll say.
- Your overall assessment process becomes a paperwork mill, and little more.
Is this how things are where you work? Eleven months of preparation abandoned at the last minute to accommodate checklists and hurry-up? Is that how you started the year, last January, with this expectation for how things would play out?
Maybe it's too late already for you. Maybe you'll find this reminder note too late to take effective action. Or perhaps you're already playing administrative catch-up. Maybe you are one of those on vacation this week yourself and I'm wasting my time, whistling in the wind.
Don't be asleep at the switch this holiday season. Waking up will present difficult challenges come the New Year.
Chuck Csizmar CCP is founder and Principal of CMC Compensation Group, providing global compensation consulting services to a wide variety of industries and non-profit organizations. He is also associated with several HR Consulting firms as a contributing consultant. Chuck is a broad based subject matter expert with a specialty in international and expatriate compensation. He lives in Central Florida (near The Mouse) and enjoys growing fruit and managing (?) a clowder of cats.
Creative Commons image,"Asleep," by cell105