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Team Leadership for the Holidays

Helping your team stay engaged and joyful through New Years Day.

holiday table

The holidays can be a time of cheer and well-being, but they can also be a time of stress and loneliness, let alone all the disruptions at work! Everyone wants to be festive, but the reality is the business keeps running, personal emergencies and illnesses still happen, and the world and all it's crazy happenings keep coming. It's enough to make anyone a little grinchy. In 2022 Newsweek reported that 56% of Americans wanted NO holiday celebrations. So what can you do?


Here are some things to keep in mind as you lead your team (and yourself) through the holidays.


Tip #1 - Be Human

Don't be this guy. No one likes or wants to work for this guy.

bad boss holiday meme

"But we've still got work to do, deadlines to hit, sales goals to crush!"

Yes, you do. And everyone around you has cooking to do, gifts to buy, family to coordinate, events to attend, cleaning obsess about, and everything else that comes with the holidays.

My advice

  1. Be clear about what's not negotiable. If it's essential to the business (meaning there will be a grinding halt if it's not done) make it clear.

  2. If work is getting done, don't stress about office time. Unless the employees are needed to support customers in the moment, as long as work is getting done they don't need to adhere to a rigid schedule this time of year. Giving a little on this will earn you all kinds of appreciation from your team and commitment when they are present.

  3. Take the time you need as well. Just because you may want to let people go early every day doesn't mean you need to take on the work. Go back to #2 in this section and see the underlined portion. You deserve flexibility as well, just don't get it unbalanced.

Tip #2 - Keep in contact

It's sooo easy for everyone to stop engaging at the same level we normally do as we lead up to a holiday and the same is true for your team.

holiday slacking

Can you change this? No, but you can make work an enjoyable place to be so that people actually want to give all they can. Notice I didn't say, give their all. There's too much going on this time of year to ask for anyone's "all."

Engage in the small talk stuff:

  • Have everyone share their favorite holiday food on your weekly call.

  • Play "Week before Holiday Bingo" with squares like, Set up out-of-office message, and Hit all deadlines before the holiday, or Hit daily sales targets. Have fun with it and encourage your team to share their progress on Teams or Slack.

  • Have a "before the holiday meeting" at 4 pm the day before the holiday with a location of "not in office with your computer and phone turned off." Giving people an hour back at the end of that oh-so-long day goes a long way.


Tip #3 - Know your team


Not everyone is celebrating this holiday. For those who have lost a loved one, are going through a breakup or any number of other real-life situations that cause one not to want to party, this time of year can be really hard.

Be aware and match their pace. If they're not diving into the "favorite holiday food" game, they don't have to. Their favorite holiday food may be the apple pie their mother made from scratch and if she's gone, that can be a hard conversation to have. No one should be forced to participate in "work fun" for any reason, and particularly this time of year.

What can you do? Ask if they want to talk about whatever is going on. Let them choose how to engage and reward hard work when you see it.

holiday drain

Tip #4 - Welcome back


When the team finally (or too soon?) comes back into the office after a holiday know that it isn't an easy transition. The relaxation (hopefully) and time with loved ones (hopefully) is hard to give up.

back to work after holiday
  • Don't schedule all your meetings on the day of return, space them out. What's really most important and needs addressing ASAP?

  • Give people catch-up time first thing. Everyone knows their email box will be full of things to address and they have catch-up work to do from their time off, let them

  • Don't be this guy: "Hi Joe, just following up on the email I sent last week (at 1 minute before shift ended the day before the holiday). Hopefully, you can get back to me ASAP. Sent at 8:15 am the day after the holiday! No. Just No.


You've got this!

Being a good team leader during the holidays isn't any different than being a good leader the rest of the year. Know what's really important, know your people, make it fun and work the important work. If you want more tips, check out the rest of the blog. Check out PCS and how we can help you or your business thrive in the year ahead.

we can do this thanksgiving meme



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