Happy Defender of the Motherland Day

2012

If you ever need to be reminded of the fact we live in a multicultural world and function on a calendar other than the one your fathers and mothers used, just try arranging meetings in the merry, merry month of May. It's frustrating, but can also be a teachable moment for those of us whose teams span international boundaries.

A look at the list of national and bank holidays this month will tell you that somewhere, someone is not at their desk, and allowed by statue not to be there. Is it Memorial Day (US), Victoria Day (Canada, the UK, parts of the old Commonwealth not yet fully detached) Defender of the Motherland Day (Kazakhstan and I'm not kidding), Mothers Day, or something even more obscure?

My daughter's birthday is the 19th, the banks are open but I will probably be in a store somewhere looking miserable and not at my desk where I should be.

The point is, that the craziness of scheduling anything just gets amped up a notch this month, and that's okay. It's a chance to use it to your team's advantage. Here are some of the ways you can take all these holidays and make it work for you.

Try to learn a bit about each others' customs and culture. Odds are your Romanian counterparts have holidays and traditions you don't know about, and vice versa. This is a chance for a bit of bonding and getting to know each other. What will they do with their time out? What foods are part of the celebration? Help your team get to know each other a bit.

Make sure that your team communication plan is up to speed. Do people know how to reach each other? Do they know how long to wait for a response before nagging the person. Where to go in case one person is unavailable? These things should be common knowledge for any team but having a good excuse to talk about it, update the information and remind people how to work and play well together is seldom time wasted.

If you haven't had a good team check-in, maybe you should. Has it been a while since everyone talked to each other? Offer people the chance to say "hey, does anyone need anything before I disappear for 3 days?"

Use downtime for training, learning or neglected projects. Rather than sit around and stew because you can't get the outputs from your team in Kazhakstan , use the slow time to do some of that "important but not urgent" stuff you've been putting off.

Yes, the world is a big place and working remotely is full of inconveniences. It is also full of opportunities to learn about people, do a conscious check-in of your team's processes and actually communicate. If you're planning time off, enjoy it.

If you're reading this on what should be a holiday or time off, stop - cut it out. Defender of the Motherland Day only happens once a year…

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

Wayne Turmel is a speaker, writer and co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institute. He’s passionate about helping people present, sell and lead people and projects using today’s virtual communication technology. His books include Meet Like You Mean It - a Leader’s Guide to Painless and Productive Virtual Meetings. Wayne is based in Chicago, IL.