Did you go from Ho-Ho-Ho to Ho-Ho-HUM? There is always a little letdown after the holidays. We can be on such a high over the holidays. Even if your holidays are great, they’re tiring with lots of running around, shopping, decorating, cooking and visiting. Don’t get me started on the tear down and packing away of holiday cheer! The marketing machine always places an expectation of everything being so positive which makes it harder for those who do not have a good family situation or are dealing with depression or loneliness.
Now back at work, returning bloody from the fiscal cliff and hungover from holiday parties; if you don’t have the MLK holiday, it’s a long stretch between now and the Memorial Day long weekend. We make inspiring New Years resolutions and then beat ourselves up when we don’t make it past a couple days on the new diet and exercise plan. Add to that the credit card bills arriving in the mail. Now even I am depressed.
So, what can you do to perk everyone up and get them back on the work track? If you have an employee assistance plan, you might want to remind your staff that the benefit is available if they need someone to talk to.
In the theme of resolutions, it’s a good time to get the staff together and review 2012 business-wise and talk about goals and commitments for 2013. Get staff involved rather than putting this together yourself, as it makes them think back over the year and gives them an opportunity to congratulate themselves on the good things and talk about what could have been better. Let them use their creativity and put together that part of the presentation. You are also promoting teamwork as they work together on the program and be sure to give them time during the day to work together.
For the new year, give as much business information as you are able. I believe sharing and trusting employees helps them become more engaged. Allow employees to ask questions and if you don’t know the answer, be honest and tell them you don’t know but you will find out. Then make sure you do get back to them with the answer or your credibility will be damaged. Rather than dictate the steps they will need to take to reach the goals, give some questions ahead of time to make them think and be prepared with their own answers. Remember, not everyone can spit out an answer, some need to process the question and think through the answers. If you just drop the questions at the meeting, you will only hear from some of your people. Take notes or have someone write on some easel paper so you have all the feedback written down. After the meeting, take all the info and summarize it to give back to employees and now you have a team built plan for the new year. Schedule some follow up meetings to discuss progress so it’s not just a plan that goes in the drawer.
Have some fun. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You can have a valentines potluck or comfort food day when everyone brings in their favorite. One time early in my career, I had employees decorate their workspaces with pictures of their loved ones. I thought it was a fun valentine thing to do but I turned out getting TMI about one particular employee. Like the advice lawyers receive, don’t ask a question without knowing what the answer will be.
A community service project during this time is a good idea as it will encourage employees to look outward rather than inward. Obtain some positive reading materials from your EAP or go online and do a search to find uplifting materials to distribute.
You may be a leader but you are also an employee and you may be dealing with some of these issues too. Taking the lead in working on these areas, will also help your frame of mind. Like forgetting about that ugly Christmas sweater your mother-in-law gave and insisted you wear at the family dinner.