Project Management

Navigating the End-of-Year Chaos

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

It always struck me as off that so many organizations schedule so much work for the year-end crunch. I get that the calendar year end is a logical place to have a company year-end (total transparency: my own company has a year-end of December 31st), but to make the holiday season the point where so many projects have to get across the finish line seems like a recipe for trouble.

Yet often, it is. I have often found myself managing projects that are behind schedule while also dealing with requests from staff for time off or to leave early for a holiday event (at a child’s school or a spouse’s place of work). It’s a difficult balancing act for me with a lot of experience; for new PMs, it can be a nightmare.

So how do you find the right balance?

Work comes first…eventually
The easy answer is to say that work has to come first. Team members are expected to complete their assigned tasks, and there is an understanding among everyone who works on projects that there will be times when that requires some personal sacrifices to be made. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be inflexible.

Many of the demands on an individual’s time that come from outside of work during the holiday season are time and date specific. A child’s holiday concert happens at a specific date and time, for example. That means it can be planned for with …


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