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How you can positively impact your team during the holidays

December 3, 2015

By Cheryl Kuch, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Like it or not, the holiday season is upon us. For all of its stress, the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day serves up ample opportunities for managers to demonstrate leadership that positively impacts employee morale, engagement, and commitment.

Gallup reports that 70% of the workforce is not engaged and the direct manager is responsible for 70% of an employee’s overall engagement. Some managers embrace these opportunities and positively impact their teams, while others never see the opportunities.  Below are three simple ways you can make a positive impact on employee morale and engagement during this holiday season. 

1. Show you care by asking questions
According to Gallup, one of the top six factors in impacting engagement is whether or not a supervisor cares about the members of her team as persons. Employees will more likely trust managers they believe care about what they care about, not just about themselves. Trust is critical to high performing teams.

Take five minutes and connect with each one of your employees. Open-ended questions that start with “what” and “how” are the best way to create non-defensive dialog and open lines of communication.  Do not start with “Are you looking forward to the holiday?” This question calls for a “yes” or “no” answer only—that is not dialog. But questions such as  “What are your plans for…?” “What is a favorite holiday tradition (or food) in your household?” or “What do you look forward to most?”  do create dialog.

But then, of course, you have to listen. Then balance the conversation by sharing something you look forward to.  Use caution and don’t force answers – each person will warm up at a different pace. 

2. Do not pass up company-sponsored holiday events 
Many organizations invest a lot of time and money in making the holiday season special and meaningful for employees by organizing events and activities for employees. These events make it easy for you to have major impact.

But first of all, you have to show up. Managers often see these events as not for management, or worse, a waste of time when they could be getting caught up on work while everyone else is partying. The truth is that if you see it this way so will your team, which will eat away at their engagement levels. You may be seen as lacking team commitment or team spirit which, like a virus, will infect them in turn. Participating in these events sends a positive message; but not participating does far worse than send a neutral message—it sends a negative one.

You should promote the event and encourage your team members to do the same. Use the time together to build relationships in a casual, non-threatening environment by asking about their lives as suggested above. Also, you will be seen by other team members and their managers as a committed, collaborative team player, someone who is approachable and therefore open to new ideas and greater collaboration.

3. Acknowledge and Appreciate – Gift or no gift
The holiday season is the perfect time to share acknowledgement and appreciation for all the employee has done for the year.  It is made for that kind of activity.

Managers don’t acknowledge or appreciate employees enough.  According to Tom Rath and Donald Clifton, authors of How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life, the top reason most Americans leave a job is lack of appreciation; 65% of people report that they received no recognition in the last year. William James, the father of modern psychology, put it this way: “The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated.” We all want it, and don’t get enough of it in the workplace.

We all see gifts as expressions of appreciation during this time of year. But if you give gifts, be careful to give the same or equivalent gift to each employee. Further, make sure they understand that they are not required to reciprocate.

However, gifts are not a requirement of appreciation in the workplace.  Employees want to feel appreciated; some quality time—even five minutes with a warm sentiment (or a card)  can be equally impactful. And by the way—it isn’t a bad idea to make this a weekly habit.

Simple things can make a big difference. Make the choice to enjoy the holidays and make a big difference. 

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