I just got a call from the Grinch, and he is irritated that so many people lounge around this month. They don’t just join in the holiday spirit—they are the holiday spirit.
I told the Grinch to take a chill pill and that I’d handle it from here: no slacking on being a great leader in December. I have five ways to channel the Grinch’s critical nature and marry it with the jovial spirit of Santa.
1. No (or maybe just one) cocktail for you
Normal people often do stupid things when they drink. In a work setting, managers can do things that cost them a livelihood or a reputation when they drink too much.
Alcohol—“the great elixir of truth”—turns on the thoughts in your head that you haven’t yet shared with your team (all that feedback you’ve been putting off).
You share gripes about team members with the wrong people—most likely one of your own team members. Wrong move.
Two or three cocktails into a company party, and you forget you are in charge. You’re thinking, I’m one of the gang! We’re all dancing together and gossiping and, wow, building teamwork! Go team!
Wrong. Lots of alcohol + inexperienced, incompetent, or insecure leader = loss of teamwork.
You haven’t been one of the gang for a long time and never will be again. It’s OK. Have one drink and then play with your phone.
Irked I’m cutting you off with one drink? Read on—you will get another chance for a cocktail.
2. Wrap things up—but nothing shiny and new
What has to get done before the year ends? What is already on your plate that has a deadline of December 31, 2015?
Realistically, you have too much on your plate all the time, so don’t try to super hero the holidays and fly out the door on December 24 with an exclamation of Yes, I got it all done!
Don’t start new projects—becoming bewitched by all the holiday lights around you.
The phrase “something shiny and new” fits perfectly here. Resist the distraction of a fresh task vs. a stale one.
If you haven’t started on an initiative by December 1, put it off until 2016. You won’t get it done. It’s a hopeless cause. It will become a distraction from the more crucial items that must get done in calendar year.
Make a list and check it twice. But add nothing.
3. Don’t give presents but foot the bill
I have two reasons why leaders can skip giving gifts: the first reason you know and second one you need to learn.
1. We all have enough stuff. Resist the temptation to give for the act of giving.
2. You don’t gift well. You think you do.
Your faith in your gift giving expertise guiding you towards the ideal item for every last person on your team will result in two remarkable gifts for two team members (your favorites—come on, you know you have them) and all the rest slogging home yet another item for the Salvation Army bag in the closet.
The Salvation Army wants your money—not your stuff.
In lieu of junk, take the team out to lunch and foot the bill. Kick off the celebration by ordering the first drink (yes, alcohol—told you you’d have another chance). Reasonable imbibing during the holidays reminds the team—and you—that you are normal, too.
4. Get the protocol right—“Merry Christmas” doesn’t belong on the cup
I think Starbucks got too much flack for their solid red coffee cups, but the idea behind their safe decision is kosher.
News flash: not everyone celebrates Christmas or understands the spirit expressed by so many people at this time of the year. Isn’t that what the Grinch has been saying since you read the book or saw the show or movie the first time?
Your job this month is still that of a people leader—not a holiday caroler. Therefore, give yourself a 10-minute lesson about the additional holidays being celebrated this time of the year.
Leaders who see getting to know the person a normal part of business are nodding now and will confirm I’m no longer channeling the Grinch.
You will build lasting teamwork by acknowledging and speaking to the other ways people on your team celebrate their lives and their homes. This is the concept expressed by #5 on Gallup’s 12 questions that best measure employee engagement: Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
5. Expect people to be checked out—and remind them that’s what PTO is for
The spirit of distraction surrounds us: so many holidays, parties, kids’ activities, etc. People come in late with hangovers, and they leave early to pick up sugar-loaded kids.
There is a purpose for PTO or paid time off aka vacation: to use it!
To stop a trending of people slowly checking out without checking email, remind them of the vacation policy. Encourage them to use it—and to let you know now when they will be available and when they won’t.
Your CFO will love you because he/she probably knows that unused vacation is an unwieldy liability for your organization. For US companies overall, Project Time Off’s research claims unused vacation time is almost a quarter of a trillion dollar liability. Or an average liability of $1,898 per employee.
So, back to the Grinch. He doesn’t want to hold that money in his account for employees to use vacation when they finally get around it to. He wants you to use it now. You don’t have to enjoy it (he’d prefer you don’t)—but he wants you to use it.
What’s your POV? Are you more like the Grinch or Santa this holiday season? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Wishing you a happy and productive holiday season and may you lead with ease,