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The festive season and year-end are approaching. It’s a time that can bring increased pressure and mixed feelings for managers and their teams. People can tend to lose their focus, energy is often lower because of the weather, illness, mental fatigue, increased socialising, family, and financial pressures. Whilst Managers might want to relax, they need to stay focussed and on the ball to support their teams effectively into 2024. How easy this is depends on team dynamics and cohesion.  

Here are 5 things Managers can do to support their teams: 

1. Clarity of Expectation 

Plan now as much as possible for deadlines so staff are clear on what’s expected of them by when and you have no nasty shocks. Negotiate clear agreements with specific instructions that are understood enabling a feeling of certainty within the team. Never assume and be open to questions. Most staff will inevitably want to take their foot off the gas and relax at this time of the year.  

As a manager, ensure you keep clear boundaries for yourself to manage your own energy. Trust your team to do what’s necessary, keep an open door in case they need support and look after your own energy, and allow yourself to relax a bit too. 

2. Planning for Flexibility 

This time of year can bring conflicting feelings and expectations, along with specific needs and preferences of your team and require careful managing. Some staff feel pressured by Christmas preparations and family demands, others find this a difficult time for personal reasons and others don’t do Christmas at all. It’s important to have a flexible solution-focussed mindset without trying to be everything to everyone.  

To maintain team goodwill map out holidays well in advance to meet everyone as far as possible. Staff may value the flexibility of slightly longer lunch breaks or earlier finishing to get jobs done. Lowering the pressure felt by staff helps maintain productivity.

5 Skills Managers Need to Ensure Teams are Supported over the Festive Period

3. Effective Communication 

Ensure there’s one agreed channel of communication at this time when people may be working quite different hours to minimise confusion and lost time. You as a manager are responsible for how your messages are perceived by others. Under pressure it’s easy to forget this.  

Remember to maintain confidence and trust you need to know and adapt your communication to each team member’s preferred style to ensure your message is clearly understood.  

4. Inclusive and Sensitive Approach 

The world feels heavy for many people right now and it’s important to acknowledge the anxiety, concern, and tensions they might feel. It’s important that people can talk openly in a respectful and non-judgemental way, which requires an environment of psychological safety so people can feel heard. Banning all talk of sensitive topics causes more problems than it solves. It ignores emotions, can erode personal resilience, diminish trust and make people feel excluded. 

For some people, this time of year is difficult because it’s connected to sad memories. Others may be struggling with financial or family crises. Pay attention and use your senses to notice if there are any behavioural changes. Whilst you can’t do anything directly you can be available to listen and show staff that they are valued and their work matters. You could give everyone a card with a personalised message recognising their value and skills within the team.  

Not everyone celebrates Christmas and there are other celebrations around this time of year, so consider this in regard to staff events. Ask the team for their ideas and get creative. Find a way where the differing views are equally valid and everyone feels included. Keep in mind you’re also laying the ground for the new year. 

5 Skills Managers Need to Ensure Teams are Supported over the Festive Period

5. Begin Making Plans for Next Year  

Do your best to draw the year to a satisfactory close, with loose ends tied up and any conflicts resolved so the team can start the new year on a positive footing.   

Look forward and have the whole team plan for the coming year in a light-hearted, fun way. Have a meeting to celebrate successes and combine it with brainstorming ideas to get the team excited about coming back. 

Leading a team means leading yourself, so role model what you’d like to see in others.  Developing your emotional intelligence is key to managing your and your teams’ emotional states sensitively and so get the best they have to give. 

At the core of everything is communication—how you pay attention and listen and how you say what you say. This is something that’s central to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), which is a model of understanding how human beings tick and how to achieve the best outcomes in any interaction you have.  

What you as a manager do to support staff at this time of year both close the year on a positive note and set the scene for staff returning motivated and committed in the New Year.  

This guest blog is written by Fenella Hemus, an Internationally Certified trainer of NLP and NLP Coaching. Fenella teaches ambitious leaders, managers, and coaches how to unlock and engage their full potential through NLP. She is passionate about supporting these people to increase their personal impact, resilience, and wellbeing so they can effectively engage and motivate others.  

Fenella supports organisations to develop and embed shared values and cultures of psychological safety, with effective communication and staff creativity and where innovation is truly welcomed. A core motivation is to unlock the latent potential that often exists in teams, which then naturally increases engagement and organisational productivity. Get in touch with Fenella on LinkedIn or visit her website https://fenellahemus.com/ to find out more.