Christmas conversations you MUST have with your staff

Sue-INgramChristmas is coming! Although it’s a time for celebration – work still exists and jobs still need to be done.

Sue Ingram, from Converse Well, believes that as a manager there are some crucial communications that need to be made around expectations over the Christmas period. And this communication is a fine balancing act. Fail to communicate any expectations and productivity may tail off as Christmas fever takes over. But be too heavy handed and you run the risk of being considered a Scrooge and tasks may well be completed but with bitter resentment.

Sue says that a method of getting this balance right is to consider, ‘How can I give my staff the best Christmas ever?’ This is an opportunity to allow them to enter the holidays with a sense of pride about what they have achieved. What goals and targets can you set that would give you the chance, on Christmas Eve, to say ‘Thank you for everything you have achieved, go home, celebrate, you have earnt every bit of a brilliant holiday’. The targets do not need to be big or dramatic but something of significance so they leave with a strong sense of personal satisfaction.

If you have staff working between Christmas and New Year, then this is another communication that needs to be made. What could make this a rewarding period for both them and the organisation? Normal work may not be possible so what does this unique period of time provide the opportunity to achieve? Tidy files and records? Reflect, plan and prep for next year? Research and learn? Discuss with staff members what they want to achieve during this period and plan to acknowledge their completion in the New Year.

And finally, the most important Christmas communication of them all: What are you planning to say to staff when they return to work after the holidays?

They are likely to come back rested and little bored. If you have sent them off on the holidays with a sense of satisfaction around their work they will be returning energised and with positive anticipation for the New Year.

This is a clear opportunity to gather the team together and define some great goals for the next three months. As a manager you are definitely required to say something. If not then the New Year will quickly be forgotten and their productivity will slip, within a couple of days, to last year’s every day norm. If you want something more and different for 2016 then you need to create it now.

A New Year message like this will need to reference the Why of your team. What is the fundamental reason for the team’s existence? What difference would outstanding service make to your customers? How is the world a better place for the team’s contribution? Then work to discuss and define some enticing goals to achieve in the next three months. Longer goals can also be set but clearly defined targets for the next three months will mean people are required to take action today in order to celebrate again at the end of March.

Finally lead a discussion on the How. Do not be tempted to state how the goals should be achieved. At this point it will be very valuable to have the team determine the how for two reasons. One they may come up with better ideas than yourself and two if they think about it, introduce it and argue for it they have more ownership of the idea and therefore more commitment.

Christmas is a fabulous time. It offers all of us the opportunity for a complete pause and rest. Be sure to harness the energy that it gives in the New Year and create a fabulous 2016 for you and your team.

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