Last updated: 11 January 2021
The happiest yet the most hectic time of the year is here! For some, it might be the most wonderful time of the year, to coin a well-known song. Yet for most businesses, it’s the busiest time of the year. Anticipating the holidays and the challenges that go with the holiday season are essential for any successful manager or leader. These 8 leadership tips for the holidays will ensure you can both make use of and enjoy the holiday season.
This is your sparkly seasonal guide to how to plan ahead, to meet the goals of your organization, while being stress-free and a total non-grinch during the holidays.
8 Essential Leadership Tips for the Holidays
With your team taking their long vacation leaves, and several non-work days coming up, it is wise, even vital, to plan ahead– especially for online business, or companies doing content work. Getting ahead of the game is key to meeting goals while some or most of the workforce are holidaying.
Leadership Tip 1: Don’t Overstretch Yourself or Your Team
During the holidays with extra demands on your business and extra holiday activities outside of work it is easy to try to fit too much in than is viable or realistic. To nip this in the bud set out what is realistic regarding what you can and can’t do, for both you and your team.
The essential ingredient here is being realistic!
To keep it real, focus on key priorities and goals and make this your number one objective. To support your team and ensure they don’t get inundated or overstretched, says Steve Goldstein in Inc.com, stay connected and be on hand to help navigate issues as they unfold. Help them to keep on track with their goals.
During the busy-ness and bustle of the pre-holiday build up, take time to center yourself, suggests Ginger Christ in EHS Today. It is easy to get caught up in the rush of holiday activity.
While this is enjoyable, make time to check in with yourself and your team with “mini transitions” between activities. For example, take a moment of quiet time – a few minutes of quiet with a focus on breathing or with eyes closed. Reset and refresh!
Leadership Tip 2: Plan Around Days Off
The holiday season means that some of your team taking their long vacation leaves.
Plus, with several non-workdays ahead, an essential leadership tip for the holidays is to plan ahead factoring in structured absenteeism. Getting ahead of the game is key to meeting your goals while part of your workforce is holidaying.
To get ahead set out a clear schedule that takes into account time off; plan your and your teams’ schedule well in advance to factor in time away from desks.
Amy Cooper Hakim Ph.D. in the Psychology Today article How to Reduce Holiday Stress suggests using a planner (paper or digital) to schedule time while at work. She suggests sharing your calendar to share your availability with your team. And consider chunking your meetings into a part of your day and reserving the other part for creative work, production, holiday festivities, or one-to-ones with your team.
In fact, Ginger Christ in the EHS recommends choosing private time with your team over group time. The reason being that your team members yearn for one-to-one time with you, so take the time and schedule it. Go a step further and take it out of the office to really connect.
Allow your people to take their long vacation leaves, let them enjoy their leave for the duration of it. Respect their time off, and your time off. If you have time out, book it on your planner, says Cooper Hakim. When you schedule a time for personal agendas you are more likely to treat those blocks of time as you would a work appointment; in other words, you keep to them. She adds that making time for yourself makes you ‘happier and more productive’ behind your desk.
So, apply this to yourself and to your team and get happy this holiday.
Leadership Tip 3: Be Generous with Positive Feedback
At its best, the holiday season is a time to reflect on the meaning and purpose of your life.
To extend the goodwill and reflective spirit all over your working world, this is the time to be generous with positive reflections. Steve Goldstein in Inc.com suggests taking time to reflect on and celebrate accomplishments over the past year.
To make the most of this opportunity to offer your team valuable positive reflections get festive with your feedback and collect up many positives from the year and offer this praise publicly says, Goldstein. Most definitely do this at a holiday gathering, and also in team meetings, and at the end of a challenging day or shift.
Positive feedback is a super motivating force – so make the most of it by offering your team additional short, simple positive messages. Let them know you believe in them. Christ in the EHS advises showing heartfelt-appreciation, that is be genuine, specific, and clear, not canned or fake. Let the only thing fake this holiday time be the snow!
Leadership Tip 4: Give Back the Good-Stuff
It is the time of the year to give back some of the good to the community. This is an essential leadership tip for the holidays, and it is more than simply making a profit. This is sharing time and resources to make a difference.
While you are planning your giving-back activities or charitable support, consider team options such as helping out at your local soup kitchen, or other suitable hands-on projects in your area.
More importantly, Goldstein recommends that you create space in your schedule to participate alongside your employees. He notes that this ‘improves camaraderie, communication, and gets you much closer with your people.’
Giving back is the gift that keeps on giving because everyone wins. So, get giving!
Leadership Tip 5: Be the Example
Ok, it’s that time of year: freely flowing eggnog, the holiday music, sparkly lights, all that online shopping to do, all the invitations, and tempting treats everywhere you go. It can be pretty distracting. Or (let’s be honest) a complete hijack of productive work time if left unchecked!
While it is the holiday season, and time out for festive fun is vital for both you and your workforce, there is a balance to be struck. To help stave off the holiday hype (the type that leads to serious slacking off during work time) it is down to you as the leader to be the example and model the kind of behavior you want to see in your team.
To do this keep up your high work level and strong work ethic and your people will follow suit. Reward your team for their dedication and focus with praise, early finishes (if possible) and other seasonal treats to enjoy.
What counts big when it comes to setting the example is to pitch in and help employees with their workloads. The CEO’s who go down to the production floor and get stuck into order fulfillment on a Black Friday for example, are loved, respected and appreciated for getting involved. Do it! And guaranteed you’ll spread a lot of holiday cheer.
Leadership Tip 6: Be More Grin than Grinch
The busy build-up to the holidays and managing a skeleton staff while others take their leave can be a recipe for a stressful time.
Keep a close check on your stress levels and notice how this plays out advises Goldstein. If you are finding that rising holiday stress is making you hostile and somewhat Grinch-like, take a step back. Regroup.
Check-in with your team to ensure that you are offering the support they need.
Try to be as aware as possible of how you are reacting and notice the potential of your actions. And, be real, says Christ, if you’re stressed admit it – don’t play the fake happy leader. To stay real with others be real with yourself.
Mounting stress can mean attempts at mega multitasking. However, stop right there! Despite the myth, your brain is actually not designed to multitask (regardless of gender!). Instead, tackle one thing at a time, it’s more productive, say Psychology Today experts: ‘When we focus our energy specifically on one task, instead of trying to do multiple tasks at once, we are able to accomplish more in a shorter period. Work quality improves, as does our work attitude.’
Managing your time effectively will also help you and your team to manage stress levels by allowing you to both accomplish your priorities and leave work earlier. This in turn will give you more time and energy to do the things that bring you joy and happiness in the holiday season. A real reason to grin (and ditch the grinch)!
Leadership Tip 7: Break Out the Bonuses
Where it’s viable and appropriate it goes a long way to offer some additional consideration and appreciation at the end of a long or challenging year. Remember, says Goldstein, it is the gesture and through that counts rather than the amount.
The bonus you offer is a token of acknowledgment and gratitude, and this goes a long way. It doesn’t have to be a whopping check or an all-expenses vacation in the Bahamas. – Although if this is within your remit, why not! – However, what matters is the gesture.
The research reported in How to Say “Thank You” For Maximum Effect has shown that transactional relationships (the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind) are less satisfying than those based upon responsiveness.
A responsive expression of gratitude is when you thank your partner, or coworker, for their responsiveness to your, or your company’s needs. A responsive thank you goes like “good job, we wouldn’t have been able to keep up with all the disruption this year if you hadn’t been so dedicated and willing to rise to the challenge, so thank you.”
Thanking people for their responsiveness indicates the communal nature of that relationship, as a result, it builds up trust, and happiness.
Essentially, thanking your people in a meaningful and responsive way for meeting your business’s needs truly recognizes that have done a good job. The resulting mood boost is the real purpose behind the bonuses you give out.
So, if the Bahamas can wait until another year, make your bonuses meaningful – it still counts all the same. Bonus!
Leadership Tip 8: Be Good to Yourself
One of the top leadership tips for the holidays, is taking the time out to be good to yourself this year. We saved this tip ‘til last, but it might be the first in importance for your health…
Planned regeneration during your time off, says Maxine Driscoll of Think Strategic, will make you more alert, creative, focused and fun when you return to work. It will also help you feel better, de-stress and get the most from your time out.
So, turn off your phone and set your Out of Office, or vacation response on your emails, and switch your focus on to you and your loved ones. Don’t be tempted to check work emails or comms, unless absolutely necessary.
While you are away from your desk take the opportunity to cultivate some healthy habits to take back to work with you and sustain you into the new year.
Driscoll recommends that to max out your wellbeing this holiday season aim to exercise several times a week.
Exercise has myriad and wide-ranging benefits, from improving sleep and concentration to lowering stress levels and many others besides.
To bring some peace on earth, start meditating – science now recognizes the powerful, positive impact regular meditation has on both body and mind. It has a calming effect on the nervous system and helps you make considered decisions over rushed responses. Perfect for those holiday time or work time mini crises!
There are many apps that offer guided meditations especially if meditation is new to you, try Insight Timer, or Calm, or HeadSpace. Aim for ten minutes a day or fifteen minutes four to five days per week.
Use the holidays to start a healthy sleep habit. Aim for 8 solid hours a night and build this into a habit for your return to work. Getting enough sleep affects every area of your health – both physical and mental – inside of work and out. So, stack up on zzzz’s and make it a habit while you have the opportunity.
After all the work goals are checked off, your team is tip-top, the shopping is done, and the gifts are wrapped, take time out for yourself that is meaningful and brings you joy. If hiking is your thing, get your boots on and go. If it’s a spa day, book it. Why not take along an inspirational book on leadership and life for the ride?
Time To Be Merry and Stress-Free
These leadership tips for the holidays will ensure you can both make use of and spread joy to the world this holiday season.
By ensuring that you don’t overstretch yourself or your team and planning strategically around days off will give you the best organizational start to kick off your season with success.
Additionally, make sure to make merry by being generous with your positive feedback and give back the good through your charitable activities. This counts for more if you get involved and lead your people to lead by example!
By keeping your stress levels in check you’ll be more ginning than Grinch-like, especially if you break out the bonuses – because meaningful thank yous mean that everyone’s a winner. Top it all off with a double seasonal helping of being good to yourself; treat yourself right this holiday.
Investing time in your wellbeing means that you start your return to work at the top of your game, and on top of life. It also increases the prospect of a prosperous and successful new year.
These leadership tips for the holidays will make sure that you lead your team to hit your targets, that stress is minimized, and joy is maximized because you will also be delivering a great end of year experience for your people. Jingle all the way!
Wishing you a happy and prosperous holiday time.