It’s the holidays! Time for wrapping presents, avoiding the flu, conducting end-of-year reviews and getting started on next year’s budgeting and planning.
In other words, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
For the Laserfiche marketing team, the holidays are extra hectic because we’re heads down and getting ready for the Empower conference—Laserfiche’s biggest event of the year.
But even though the holidays are busy, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your sanity.
Here are five tips to help you get through the season with your all your boxes wrapped—and your boxes checked, too.
Make the Most of Performance Evaluation Season
As a leader, your job is to build a culture that recognizes and rewards growth. One of the tools you have at your disposal is your annual performance review process.
Performance reviews might not be fun, but when they’re done right, they can be effective and powerful ways of creating more loyalty among team members, writes Eric Jackson for Forbes.
One of the most important part of the performance review process is setting goals for the coming year. But don’t just forget about them as soon as you hand your completed evaluation in to HR; conduct quarterly evaluations with your team to make sure everyone is on track. To be effective, goals have to be top of mind for your reportees and yourself throughout the year, and you need to provide feedback to your team on how they are doing in relation to the goals, advice on how to achieve more and tips on how to get back on track if they’ve drifted off course.
Some additional tips:
- Keep a performance log. If you’re relying on your memory when it comes time to write a review, you’re likely forgetting something. Simply keep a document to jot down notes throughout the year. For extra safety, keep it in your document management repository with appropriate security applied.
- Involve your team in setting goals. Rather than assuming you know what your team members want to achieve—or pressing your goals onto them—ask “What would you like to achieve?” That gives you a shared base to negotiate expectations. And once you have a goal laid out, resist micromanaging! Trust your employees to reach the goals you’ve set together the best way they know how.
- Share and share alike. If your company uses a form for evaluations (or even an electronic form), share it with your team members before you meet. This forces you to get your evaluations done in a timely manner—always a plus for busy managers—while also giving your team members time to review and digest what you’ve written before you meet.
- Be prepared. Never go into a review without preparation. You should think through what you want to discuss so you don’t miss key opportunities for feedback and encouragement. If you need to, practice approaches with a trusted colleague, your boss or HR. And remember, don’t dwell on the negative. Be direct, give specific examples, but approach the conversation with a genuine intent to help the employee improve.
- Encourage conversation. Using questions such as “How can I be a better manager for you?” “What would be a helpful agenda for our check-ins?” “What do you think will be most challenging as you work toward your goals?” will help ensure your performance review is a conversation, not a lecture.
Cope with Vacations, Including Your Own
A Glassdoor survey found that only 26% of Americans take all their vacation time. Not only are employees entitled to the time off, but research shows that actually taking it is critical for their engagement and in avoiding long-term burnout. But during the holidays when everyone seems to want the same time off, how do you make sure you’re not stuck alone in the office while your team is on vacation?
One good tip is to set a deadline for submitting vacation requests. That gives you enough time to project how employee absences might affect workload, and to resolve any conflicts. Depending on your business, this could be anywhere from one month to six months in advance. You’ll also want to split out vacationing employees’ duties among several colleagues, which keeps workloads more balanced—and everyone less stressed.
When it comes to your own vacation, a poorly planned and stressful vacation eliminates the positive benefit of time away. Here are some other ideas for a successful, work-free vacation:
- Set milestones and regular check-ins, but otherwise let your people be in charge. After all, you are supposed to be away.
- Decide to what extent you will work during your vacation, and communicate this to staff — both up and down.
- Force yourself. Pick a time to take a break from work and put it on your to-do list like any other chore.
RSVP to the Holiday Party- But Don’t Forget Your Etiquette
The holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without the office holiday party. According to business etiquette expert Hilka Klinkenberg, the number one rule of the office holiday party is to remember that no matter how festive the party, it’s still about business.
Here are some other tips to offer your team for a fun holiday party that won’t be the talk of Facebook:
- Moderation, moderation, moderation. If you choose to drink, keep it under control (which means, don’t order shots—ever.) And don’t forget to tip your bartenders if there’s a tip jar.
- Remember your hors d’oeuvres etiquette. If your holiday party involves passed hors d’oeuvres, don’t flag down servers—wait for them to come to you. And don’t take more than one appetizer at a time. More tips here.
- Dress appropriately. Find out what the dress code is and plan your outfit accordingly. (Confused about creative black tie vs. festive vs. business formal? Click here!) And remember to leave anything too revealing in the closet. Even though your party might be after hours, it’s still a work event, and you want to maintain a professional image.
- Meet and mingle. While it’s great to spend time with your office friends, the holiday party is a perfect time to meet people from other departments. So resist the temptation to sit with your friends—and encourage your team to do the same.
- Remember to say thank you. Someone at your organization spent a lot of time and effort coordinating a festive and fun event. Find out who those people are—likely your HR team—and let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.
Prioritize Mental and Physical Health
If you hadn’t guessed already, it’s no secret that I’m a devoted planner. I even color-code my Outlook calendar so I can see at a glance where I’m spending the majority of my time each week. But when you’re spending the time to plan your schedule to get your work done—you also need to plan your schedule to prioritize your well-being.
According to IDEA, a membership organization for health and fitness professionals, the key is to remember that even short workouts are better than no workouts at all. Here are some more tips to ensure that you prioritize your well-being during the busiest time of the year:
- Be proactive. Rather than leaving your schedule up to chance, be proactive and dedicate time for your workouts. This is especially important during the holiday season when your schedule is more variable due to vacations and family trips. And if you know that you’re going to be traveling, plan on using those days for recovery and train harder surrounding the trip.
- Try changing your gym schedule. If you usually hit the gym after work, consider the early morning. One benefit of getting your workout in before work, family and personal commitments derail you is having plenty of time to get everything else done during the day.
- Aim for 10,000 a day. Sometimes between meetings, parties, holiday pageants and everything else on your plate, squeezing in the gym just isn’t possible. If you can’t dedicate time to a workout, aim for 10,000 steps a day, which adds up to about five miles for most people. And if you can’t do that? Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away than usual. Walk over to have a chat instead of picking up the phone. Every little bit helps!
- Get colleagues involved. A daily walk is a great way to get moving while you still have a conversation. Consider a walking meeting, or scheduling a meeting at a nearby coffee shop and walking there and back. Or, if your office is Fitbit-friendly, kick off a Workweek Hustle challenge!
- Relax and renew. The holiday season demands more of our time and energy, so don’t forget to renew and replenish yourself with activities like yoga and meditation. Click here for a 10-minute peaceful holiday meditation or here for nine yoga poses to help you slow down and enjoy the joy of the season.
One thing we’re excited about for the upcoming Empower Conference is our new Laserfit Challenge, where you can compete with fellow attendees by racking up steps on your phone or device. Register now for a chance to win a Fitbit Blaze Smartwatch, Bluetooth Headphones, Laserfiche goody bag, Nike gift card and more! Learn more about the challenge—and register to compete—on the Empower website here.
Plan Team Holiday Activities Wisely
It can often seem like the holiday season is one long blur of parties, shopping, lunches, brunches and other activities. Given the seasonal whirlwind, how do you make sure you have time to celebrate with your team—without overloading their calendars, as well?
If your team has had one potluck too many, here are some new holiday activities to try:
- Get out of the office and help your community. The true spirit of the holidays is giving—so get your team together to volunteer at an animal shelter, local hospital, shelter, or other cause close to your hearts. By volunteering, you support your community, get out of your typical 9-to-5 rut and get to do something truly worthwhile.
- Take a class. It wouldn’t be team building if the team weren’t getting a little relaxed—and silly—together. Instead of the same old dinner, try learning something new: mixology, cooking, rock-climbing … the options are endless. To make this activity a success, get your team involved in suggesting activities and voting on their preferred option.
- Share some sweets. Simplify your holiday baking—and show off your own skills—by getting your team involved in a cookie swap. All you do is have each team member bake enough cookies so each person gets to take 1-2 of each treat home. Everyone leaves with plenty of sweets, new recipes and an appreciation for their colleagues’ baking skills. Learn more about how to host a cookie swap from Martha Stewart here.
- Give a gift. Sure, Secret Santa is an old standby, but what about Secret Santa with a $5 or $10 limit? What if it has to be handmade? What if it’s two or three small gifts that are left over a designated week? Encourage your team to get to know their colleagues and get creative! To eliminate even more work, you can even automate the process with electronic forms.
- Decorate your office, desk or cubicle. Encourage employees to decorate their offices in a departmental theme, and then have a contest to judge the best decorations, the funniest decorations, the weirdest and the most original ideas. (This and more great ideas here.)
No matter what, remember to be grateful for what you have. As Dr. Laura Trice says in a recent TED talk, most people want to hear someone thank us for the things we do, even if it’s something we’re supposed to be doing anyway. Being appreciated is a huge motivation! So no matter how busy you are this season, don’t forget to say thank you to those people who have helped you be successful during the year.