Five tips to motivate your staff over Christmas and into the New Year

Christmas is coming and this is the time for celebration, partying and eating way too much. 

But work still exists and jobs still need to be done – so it’s important to keep your staff motivated, and to use the start of a new year as an opportunity to improve productivity.

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 to achieve.

Failure to communicate any expectations and productivity may tail off as Christmas fever begins to take over, but be too heavy handed about what must be completed and you run the risk of being considered a Scrooge and tasks may well be completed but with bitter resentment.

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Here is some advice to consider:

A method of getting this balance right is to consider, ‘How can I give my staff the best Christmas ever?’  Undoubtedly there will be some form of party and celebration but you also have the opportunity to allow them to enter the Christmas holidays with a sense of pride about what they have achieved.

What goals and targets can you set that are stretching and that would give you the chance, on Christmas Eve, to say ‘Thank you for everything you have achieved, go home, celebrate, you have learnt 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 from their work. This sense of satisfaction will help to motivate them in the New Year as well.

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 with so many other companies closed or on basic staffing levels so what does this unique period of time in the working year provide the opportunity to achieve?

Tidy files and records?  Reflect, plan and prep projects for next year?  Research and learn? Discuss with staff members what they want to achieve during this period and, again, plan to acknowledge their completion in the New Year.

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, after all there only so much TV and chocolate a person can take.  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. 

Your New Year message needs to reference the Why of your team. What is the fundamental reason for the team’s existence? Why are you doing what you are doing? If it is to deliver to an internal or external customer this will be easy to define. 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.

About the author 

Sue Ingram is author of ‘Fire Well, how to fire staff so they thank you’ and founder of Converse Well, a training company which provides workshops for managers in how and what to say when managing and firing staff.  

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