With summer fading quickly from our memories, the kids back in school, and lots of leaves to clean up, this is the time of the year I often hear: “I can’t believe how quickly the year went by. Before we know it will be January.”
While it’s true that time does march on, don’t fall into the trap many people do at this time of the year that I call the “Q4 fly-by.” This happens all the time, especially to project managers. Sit down with someone and try to plan anything at this time of year, and you’ll inevitably hear things like: “Oh, that’s near Thanksgiving, we better write off those two weeks.” Pretty soon, you might as well write off all of November and December, and with the new college bowl season extending into early January…well, you get the idea.
Q4 of course, means different things to different industries. I have a friend in retail that laughs at the thought of spending ANY holiday time with family and friends. Q4 is the WHOLE year. I’ve seen other industries basically shut down like a hibernating bear with no one minding the store until just after New Year’s Day. Seasoned sales veterans know that Q4 is both a time to “close” sales, but just as importantly to “prime the pump” in an effort to get a running start in January.
As a project management consultant, I have to tailor my Q4 to my clients’ needs, but I try personally to avoid the Q4 trap myself. As you set up project schedules and milestones, be mindful that people will tune out and take time off. But if it’s your job to keep things on track, a gentle reminder that the project itself is NOT taking time off could be enough of a nudge to keep people engaged.
Here are a few ways to keep things on track in Q4:
posted by Catherine Brown