The festive season brings a great opportunity

The end of the year provides a unique opportunity to build team spirit, motivation and loyalty in your team. Use it, writes Peter Hughes.

The festive season brings a great opportunity
- Advertisement -

Santa Claus was in a bad mood. He was feeling pre-Christmas pressure. There was a deluge of letters from children asking for presents, and with four of his elves sick, production targets of the toy workshop had been missed.

Adding to his stress levels, Mrs Claus’s mother was visiting, and two of his reindeer had escaped. As he started to load the sleigh, the toy-bag fell to the ground, scattering toys far and wide in the snow.

To calm his nerves, he felt like having a shot of apple cider and rum. To his dismay, he found that the elves had drunk all the cider, and his mother-in-law, who disapproved of his alcohol habit, had hidden the rum.

- Advertisement -

Grumbling to himself, he dropped the empty cider jug, and when he went to fetch the broom to sweep up the broken glass, he found the mice had eaten the straw bristles!

Relax: It’s Christmas

Hopefully, you’ve had a better build-up to the festive season? Santa might be feeling his age, but no matter the level of frustration coming his way, Christmas is no time for sourpusses and grumpiness.

It’s a time for celebrating the values that bring us together with friends, family and employees; a time for smiles, cheerfulness, togetherness, gratitude and generosity. Not only financial generosity, but generosity of spirit.

Become less serious (encourage staff to decorate their work areas), more tolerant (drop the dress code and go decorative and casual).

Be more charitable (visit the local school and hand out gifts), be more forgiving and much more loving. Let your empathy bubble over! It’s a ready-made period to gain goodwill from all the people on whom you depend, and you should be using it to the full.

If you’re finding it hard to get into the Christmas spirit, watch the movie Scrooge: A Christmas Carol on Netflix tonight.

Take a cue from the miserable, stingy, horrible Ebenezer Scrooge, who changed his ways and brightened the world all around him, and suddenly found everyone more helpful and loyal, and in business idiom, more motivated.

There are many ways for organisations to leverage the positive vibe of the festive season. Here are some:

The staff party

Nothing breaks down barriers better than work colleagues mixing socially, and busting loose on the dance floor with the ‘moves’ of the more staid managers bringing the house down. If you can get a bit of spontaneous singing going, so much the better.

In addition, the staff party is the time to acknowledge outstanding performers publicly and to award milestones deserving of recognition, such as long service.

It’s also the perfect time for management to thank staff publicly for their support throughout the year. Have a photographer capture fun pictures that go on display. People will stand around those boards for days, enjoying the memories with laughter.

Don’t go overboard. A good format is the ‘cocktail party’, with liberal festive decorative lights, music, food and an open bar with free drinks (for a limited time!).

But beware, and I speak from experience, leave someone out, and you’ll have a divisive affair that may do more harm than good. Include wives and children even if you need more than one party for each group.

It’s a time for giving

The ubiquitous ‘Christmas bonus’ has become part of the remuneration package in most companies. Of course, it’s not a ‘bonus’ at all, but a gift to help families cover the costs of a family Christmas.

The ‘bonus’ is taken for granted, will result in no increase in productivity and get no thanks, unless it is accompanied by a personal, handwritten note acknowledging and thanking the employee concerned for their contribution.

Go one step further. Hold a special event for disabled or aged parents of employees, and hand out small gifts. It will never be forgotten.

Make this festive season the one that your colleagues, employees, customers and suppliers will never forget. Make it one that builds up goodwill and energises them to go the extra mile for you and your company in the coming year.

Merry Christmas!

Peter Hughes is a business and management consultant.