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.
To get this balance right, you need to ask yourself: "How can I give my staff the best Christmas ever?"
Pride and satisfaction
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 earned every bit of a brilliant holiday."
The targets do not need to be big or dramatic, but something significant, so your staff leave with a strong sense of personal satisfaction. Showing appreciation is something staff value greatly, above and beyond big Christmas parties or bonuses.
If you additionally feel the need to mark the close of the working year, write each person in your team a personal Christmas card thanking them for something they personally have contributed during the year.
If you have staff working between Christmas and New Year, this is another communication that needs to be made. What could make this a rewarding period for both them and your business?
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 you staff members what they want to achieve during this period and plan to acknowledge their application over the holidays and completion in the New Year.
Happy 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 a 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 provides a clear opportunity to gather your people together to define some great goals for the next three months. As a manager or business owner you are definitely required to say something. If not, the new year will quickly be forgotten and their productivity will slip, within a couple of days, to last year's everyday norm. If you want something more and different for 2016, you need to create it now.
A new year message like this will need to reference the "why" of your company. What is the fundamental reason for your existence? What difference would outstanding service make to your customers? How is the world a better place for the business'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 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 staff members determine the "how" for two reasons. One, they may come up with better ideas than you. 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 business.
Copyright © 2015 Sue Ingram, author of Fire Well: how to fire staff so they thank you and founder of Converse Well, a training company that provides workshops for managers on how and what to say when managing and firing staff. Sue has spent more than 27 years working in HR and related fields, she is an Honorary Teaching Fellow at Lancaster University, where her workshop forms part of their International MBA program. Connect with Sue and Converse Well on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.