Project Management Professional (PMP)® Articles - Preparing for December 31st: Seven Ways to Adequately Prepare for the End of the Year

Preparing for December 31st: Seven Ways to Adequately Prepare for the End of the Year

Doesn't it feel like 2020 just started? Considering how eventful this year has been, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking that this year has felt like it's moved a lot faster than expected. Nevertheless, the end of the year is now approaching, and you may be feeling the pressure of trying to tie everything up.

Do you have a system in place? Do you have a growing to-do list? Do you ever wonder where to start in preparing for the end of the year? Well, this article can help you begin to put together a strategy to start your end of the year processes.

Are you ready to finish strong? Take a look at this take on how to get ready to prepare for the end of 2020.

Acknowledge the Challenges

Sometimes it can be cathartic and downright stress-relieving to acknowledge how tough the year has been. Nothing about 2020 has been normal, and it helps to touch on the feelings many of your workers may be having as they move into the New Year. Did you have to switch-up from working onsite to working remotely? Were there personnel changes? Did you have some clients who dropped off?

Whatever the issues were, it helps to have time to debrief and acknowledge the good—and not-so-good—parts of the year. This may be in the form of an end-of-the-year report meeting, or you may even want to meet with team members one-on-one. Your goal is just to take a moment to acknowledge the issues and allow people to talk through their feelings regarding the year to conclude it in a healthy way.

Discuss Your Goals

Did you meet your company goals? How did your team members do meeting their individual goals? This is the time of the year where you want to get down the numbers. Additionally, this is when you want to assess whether you met other goals related to productivity and workplace metrics (ex. Absenteeism, worker output, and turnover).

This process will likely include group meetings to go over results and one-on-one performance reviews to discuss Q4 and overall objectives. Goals can increase your team's focus and guide their behavior—so this time may also be when you want to set goals for the next year so that you can come back in January 2021 and hit the ground running.

Encourage Team Members to Plan Out Their Vacation Time For Next Year

It's impossible always to know when you and your team members will need a day off, but you can help organize schedules next year by encouraging everyone to start thinking about the vacation days they want to take.

Doing this will allow you to avoid any significant staffing gaps during the busier times of the year and coordinate with employees to ensure you can move tasks or duties around when team members take off. This is also the time to discuss any policies related to taking time off and informing everyone of how much PTO they have in the form of vacation days, sick time, and any other time designations (ex. Flex time).

Get Your Financials Together for Taxes

As we all saw in 2020, tax time will likely continue to be a hectic season since the IRS and various other governmental entities could be managing the rollout of financial assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, you want to walk into the first part of 2021 with your financial documents ready-to-go.

Start gathering all of your income documents, and begin compiling all of your deductions. This process should include tasks like scanning receipts and getting all of those values entered into your business accounting systems.

Additionally, you also want to use this time to assess your company's financial health. This means taking care of your balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, and conducting various calculations like current ratios and profit margins. Walking into February or March with these processes already completed will lift a weight off your—and your accounting department's—shoulders.

Check-In With Your Clients

A great way to close 2020 is to know who will need your team's services going into 2021. They may not know what they need, but they can likely tell you if they are going to be working with you, so your and your teams can prepare. Start reaching out to your points of contact at your clients' businesses to get in front of their needs. You may want to start setting up meetings with them in the early part of January 2021, so you can already have a time set up to address the services you can provide.

Remind Everyone About The Importance of Taking Time Away During the Holidays

Not always, but typically, most businesses will close down for a set number of days or have a large number of employees take time off during the end of the year. If this is happening, you want to make sure that employees—and yourself—are genuinely taking the time to rest and refresh. That means: not answering emails, working on projects, or being distracted with work during a vacation.

Resultantly, you want to set the tone and remind them that it is okay to unplug and really take some time to enjoy their time away. Studies have shown that employees become more productive and creative when they take time out to rest and rejuvenate. If some people are working through the holidays, set standards for when it's okay to contact someone who is off, and when it's expected that they wait until they return.

Recognize and Thank Your Teams

Recognition is a critical part of engaging your employees. Your team members want to know that you are satisfied with the work they have done. So, you want to create a way to adequately acknowledge the work they have accomplished—especially during a year as turbulent as 2020. This could be in the form of an end-of-the-year event, sending an impactful "thank you" note, or sending out small gifts to your team (as your budget allows).

You want to build an environment where recognition and acknowledgment take center stage, and planning to do that this year can do that. Sixty-nine percent of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were appreciated, so this step can put your teams in a position to be even more productive next year.

The End of The Year Doesn't Have to Be Hectic

The end of 2020 doesn't have to be as chaotic as the rest of the year was. You can come to a definite conclusion while empowering your team members to hit the ground running in 2021. This situation will happen through setting the right policies and taking the time to acknowledge all your team members have been through. If you take some time to lay out how you want this year to conclude, you can control how this year ends, and the next one starts.


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