Leading Through the Holidays

Preparing for the holiday season is often a challenge. Navigating customer demands, wrapping up year-end projects, and balancing work and family obligations is a challenge every year. However, 2020 has presented unique challenges for everyone. Now is the time for leaders to acknowledge hardships and celebrate successes to keep their teams on track through the New Year. 

The holiday season never means work is over, and with so many businesses trying to maximize profits after a difficult few quarters, it is imperative to maintain momentum. How can leaders focus on financial targets while keeping employees happy and motivated? 

Check-in with your team frequently. Ensure you are taking time to find out how employees are doing, not just what they are doing. Show empathy and understanding of the stress they might be experiencing while focusing on key priorities as a team. Promote a culture of resilience by encouraging teams to let each other know what help they might need to overcome unanticipated problems. 

Celebrate and reward accomplishments. Don’t forget that the holidays are the perfect time to reflect on the year, celebrate our successes, and appreciate friends, family, and co-workers. Take time to acknowledge and reward your team’s hard work. This can be at a planned holiday celebration, but it should also happen on a smaller scale at staff meetings or the end of a long shift. Acknowledgment can be verbal, or with gifts or bonuses, but it is important for people to feel appreciated.

Set a clear schedule around days off. Varying levels of economic shutdowns have effected the workforce in different ways. Essential workers dealing with the public have been working under extreme stress, and remote workers might be putting in extra hours to prove their worth. The lines between work-life and homelife have blurred considerably with the adoption of remote work tools, and sometimes a day off is still a day with frequent work calls and phone calls. Think carefully about strategies to get work done and care for customers without burning out your team or yourself. Set clear and fair expectations for the use of PTO on or around paid holidays, and when possible, prioritize productivity over physical presence.  

Lead by Example. Don’t forget to care for yourself during this challenging season. Setting an example of balancing work ethic with self-care is the best way to encourage employees to care for their own well-being while remaining productive. Employee burnout degrades the quality of work and increases employee turnover. Your employees may be afraid to take a much needed day off when they see their managers never do. Rest and relaxation are vital for our minds and bodies and increase creativity and productivity in the long run.