Tuesday, June 18, 2024

How to Manage Skeleton Staff This Christmas

It’s that time of year when employees are excited to enjoy their Christmas breaks and wrap up their duties after 12 months of working hard. And while it is the season to be jolly – for some businesses, this means navigating the tricky waters of managing a skeleton crew.

Effective management during holiday seasons is the unsung hero of office survival and there is a fine difference between a well-executed strategy and one that just plants its staff anywhere.

Let’s find out how you can best sleigh the challenges businesses face with a reduced workforce.

Planning Ahead

Some things don’t operate great when executed last minute, and managing skeleton staff is the same. It requires planning ahead with a considerable amount of effort to ensure everyone is happy and onboard.

Here are a few quick pointers to consider.

Determine Workload and Priorities

Which tasks need the spotlight and what can take a back seat? When resources are limited, it’s paramount to manage everyone’s effort toward the primary goal strategically.

Businesses will also need to be realistic.

There can’t be expectations of high workloads being completed when less than half your team is present, and everyone else is on holiday.

Don’t overwork your skeleton staff and set reasonable workload expectations.

Needless to say, adroit staff rotations and roster management will need to be on-point during this period.

Provide Support and Resources

You’re not just a manager; you’re a Santa of support.

Assess the technological, logical, and material needs of your team to tackle the tasks ahead with fewer people. This is also an opportunity to offer training sessions or workshops to enhance the skills of your team – after all, there is more pressure.

You will need to maintain and encourage open communication to give your team an environment where sharing concerns or ideas is comfortable.

Give Recognition

Challenges become vastly different during the holiday season, and that’s why it’s important to show your team appreciation. Not only will you improve team morale, but it can foster team cohesion.

A skeleton team means everyone is wearing multiple hats and that undoubtedly deserves recognition to develop a resilient workforce, especially if Christmas is a busy season for your business.

Leverage Technology

Improving efficiency is something every business strives to do, but this will need to be accelerated during the Christmas season.

Technology acts as a force multiplier, allowing your skeleton staff to achieve more with limited resources. Project management software and communication platforms ensure efficient coordination, even with a reduced workforce.

Project Management Software

We mentioned earlier that task prioritisation would be essential, and this can be best accomplished through project management software.

Having a centralised platform to allocate, track progress, and communicate in will save many hours and prevent frustration down the track. They are ideal for giving real-time updates, which is critical for skeleton staff managing diverse responsibilities.

Remote Collaboration Tools

If your business operates remotely, then tools will be a non-negotiable requirement.

Reliable communication tools that assist in text and video communication are essential, while file sharing and real-time collaboration software will bolster productivity. If you’re unsure what tools to implement, read our guide on the 12 Best Collaboration Tools for Remote Teams.

Addressing Challenges

It should be very evident that skeleton staff and the holiday season won’t present the ordinary challenges you commonly deal with.

Here’s what you can do.

Identifying and Resolving Bottlenecks

Regularly assessing workflow is all about understand how tasks move through your system and spotting the bottlenecks.

Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but following a process like the one below can make it possible.

Periodically review ongoing tasks to identify any slowdowns or points of congestion.

Encourage team members to share insights on potential bottlenecks they’ve observed in their roles.

Project management software can provide visibility into task progress and help identify areas where workflow might be slowing down.

Swift actions are the key to preventing a snowball effect of issues. The quicker you tackle it, the more thankful you’ll be later, and this can be done by having a robust reporting system, establishing a point of contact, and implementing regular check-ins.

And most importantly, maintain transparent communication with your clients and customers!

Be completely upfront about any potential delays or changes in services. The last thing you want is an unsatisfied customer because of poor communication during peak shopping hours. 

Use multiple channels like emails, newsletters, and social media to guarantee your message reaches your customers. The Christmas period is one of the best times to assess client retention and satisfaction, especially when faced with the additional challenge of fewer staff.

Think of it as a test.

If you can survive the Christmas holidays with satisfied clients and high retention, then consider your management skills more than satisfactory.

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