I have read many things that say when we're close to having a vacation we work twice as hard in trying to clear our desks off and finish all work so that, when we get back, we won't have a mountain of work to try to catch up on. I've been thinking about that lately as we move into the holiday season because I've always believed that during this time of the year, less work gets done because most people's minds are elsewhere, such as shopping, parties, family and presents.

It got me wondering what might explain the differences in the two events, and I might have finally come to a thought. The thought is that the difference lies in the fact that when one is going on vacation, it's just that one person who's leaving, whereas during holidays, it's affecting everyone. Is it possible that group thinking really is more powerful than individual thinking?

Yes, of course it is. There are very few people who are mentally strong enough to always overcome group think, so to speak. We call it peer pressure when still in school, but adults will also face peer pressure. That's why whistle blower laws are so strong in their protection of the individual who will stand apart from the rest and divulge improprieties at a company. That's why a cop who crosses what's known as the "blue line" will pretty much have given up his career if he tells the truth about criminal activity of his compatriots.

In this case, the group mind is elsewhere in their thoughts, and even the best of workers can get worn down by the general malaise and start to slow down a little bit. I know because I believe I was one of those people. My concentration was usually very good and my dedication top notch, but when I couldn't get things done because I couldn't get anyone else to pay attention, my work was pretty much done at that point also.

So, if you're a manager or supervisor or business owner of some type, and you're NOT in retail, expect those little slowdowns from your staff, and, instead, try to work on plans for how everything is supposed to run once the holidays are over. If you ARE in retail, don't worry about it, because the group think is also happier at this time of the year, in general, which means your employees will be energized by the buying public. Hard to be sad when every face that comes your way has a smile on it.