It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” sings Andy Williams in this classic holiday song (click here to take a listen and bring a smile to your face today!). And yet, most managers are aware of how the focus and productivity of our teams sometimes takes a back seat to gift buying, holiday vacation planning and ugly sweater contests. I recently read a statistic from Career Builder that 53% of employees are using time at work to shop online for Christmas gifts! Seriously?

What can we do to keep our teams focused throughout the holidays without becoming a Grinch? Here are a few tips:

  1. Communicate Clear Expectations. Kick off each week with a brief meeting to be sure the team is on the same page about what must be achieved for the week. If you have an end-of-month goal, break it down into smaller weekly chunks (even daily or hourly chunks, depending on the work!) to help focus the team on the “here and now” aspect of their work. The more each person is clear about their role in achieving the goal, and the relevance and importance of their contribution to success, the better! Make the goal visible and make progress toward the goal visible to motivate the team.
  2. Follow-Up, Follow-Up, Follow-Up. If you have set an end-of-week goal, don’t wait until the end of the week to determine if it was achieved or not. Follow-up throughout the week to see if appropriate progress is being made toward the goal. It’s far better to recognize a short-fall on Tuesday so the team can regroup and identify a recovery plan. These check-ins are not meant to be a time to micromanage your team members. It is a time to give positive reinforcement for productive behaviors, and a time to offer encouragement and support or coaching and correction if progress isn’t being made as expected. Involve the team or individual in identifying the change in course to get their ownership in resolving the concern.
  3. Celebrate Productive Behaviors and Achieving Short-term Goals. When you notice someone doing good work during this time, say something! Tell them! There is magic in expressing sincere and positive feedback when you catch someone doing something good! Reward the team for achieving the goal with a celebration of some kind. It doesn’t have to break the bank. A pizza party where the team eats together and you share with them how each of them contributed to achieving the team goal works.

It’s the hap-happiest season for all,” when our teams find ways to balance their holiday spirit and achieving our organizational goals!