It is holiday time and that feeling of nostalgia has fallen over the office. Everyone is pre-occupied with the gifts they have to purchase after work, the beach vacation they will be taking next week, the upcoming holiday party, and pretty much anything other than work.
As a leader, the end of the year demands that loose ends be tied up and that the foundations for the new year be laid. Along with an increased workload, you may also be working with a skeleton crew due to colleagues taking extra holiday time, a general decline in productivity, and the need to make time for your own loved ones.
It can be challenging to push through this hectic time without becoming the office Grinch. Here are some ideas to help you tactfully manage three major holiday hurdles that you, as a leader, may face:
Manage multiple vacation requests and keep everyone happy.
Some employees, may-be many, may want to take time off during the holiday season. However, not everyone can take time off at once since the organization has to continue operations. How do you make this process fair and equitable?
Having a plan to address holiday requests will ensure that you have enough team members to continue business as usual. While setting expectations can be helpful in mitigating some holiday conflicts, there will inevitably be those who are displeased about not being able to take time off. Make sure that you have a well established policy for holiday time off.
Policies should include the following:
- A set time to give notice for a vacation request. Note this should always be done AHEAD of time. Many companies require notice to be given at the start of the year.
- How many people may take time off at any given time
- Basis on which requests will be evaluated. For instance, do those with greater seniority have higher preference or it is first-come, first-served?
- The maximum duration of time off
- When employees will be notified if they will be able to take the time off
A key is communicating the process for asking for time off ahead of time and to all team members so that they can prepare and plan accordingly. It is important to publish team schedules showing who is working during the holidays and who is not.
Keep the team working hard, even when their heads aren’t in the game.
A productivity decrease is inevitable around holiday time. How can you make sure that work is still being completed despite a decline in motivation?
First, set out goals well in advance of the year end. People may be motivated to get things done early to alleviate some of the pressures on them over the holiday period. Clear goals, expectations, and timelines remove any excuse for slacking off and not completing assigned tasks.
Since everyone is feeling relaxed and spirited, be sure to remember to strike a balance between work and play. Create specific times for everyone to relax together. For example, on a Wednesday afternoon cater a lunch and give everyone an extended break to enjoy some social time. The holiday season is a perfect time to build relationships with clients and customers. You may also find it valuable to use fun holiday events to create some light holiday competition. Give incentives for meeting specified milestones.
Home and Family Responsibilities
Prioritize your responsibilities with friends and family.
When everyone else wants time off, it can be hard to remember to take time for you. This is critical. If you don’t take time for yourself, you will inevitably burn out.
When you are being pulled in a hundred different directions, remember to take a step back.
- Prioritize your relationships and obligations.
- Don’t be afraid to say no.
- Decide who you want to spend time with, and which obligations may be the most pressing. Tackle those first. You may even have time left over!
Most importantly, disconnect. Take your own time away and set boundaries for communication. You can designate a point person to take your most important tasks, but the rest can be handled when you return. It’s okay to check in periodically, but don’t be glued to your phone and email. Time away will leave you refreshed and ready to lead in the new year.
How do you manage holiday chaos?