Staying motivated in December, and keeping your team motivated can be a challenge. Most people have more competing demands than they do at other times of the year and may feel overwhelmed. Others may have difficulty with the holidays for personal reasons and can’t seem to stay motivated. Plenty of people take additional time off in December as well, and getting everything done can be tough if staff levels are lower than normal, or if decision-makers are on vacation and unreachable. But if you keep a few things in mind and take some practical steps, you can keep everyone working productively as the end of the year approaches. Here’s how.

Keep your team motivated

Few workplaces are completely unaffected by the holidays.

Emphasize the Importance of Communication

Make sure everyone knows the importance of communication. If you know in advance that certain dates will be busier than usual, let your team know well in advance. Make sure team members communicate important information like if they need to leave early on a particular date or have children home from school and will have difficulty scheduling overtime. Don’t assume that everyone will communicate sufficiently. Remind them to keep everyone in the loop.

Encourage Everyone to Have a Goal in Mind Every Day

As a leader, acknowledging the upheaval the end of year holidays bring reassures your team that you understand and experience many of the same holiday stresses. Encourage everyone on your team to start each day with a goal in mind, and to limit disruptions that can prevent the accomplishment of those goals. The temptation to take long lunches day after day can be great, but if each person has a goal for the day, they’re more likely to avoid unnecessary distractions.

Bring in Temporary Help if Necessary

If you’re trying to accomplish a lot while working with a skeleton crew, consider working with a reputable temporary staffing agency and bringing in temporary workers to take some of the load off. Clearly you can’t bring in a temp to take care of highly specialized work, but having an extra person around to answer phones, deliver documents, or take care of routine bookkeeping tasks can give your team enough breathing room to get things done without undue stress.

Set a Good Example

Set a Good Example

Your attitudes and actions affect those of your team.

If you want your team to stay motivated, you yourself need to set a positive example. Keep your own attitude positive, and demonstrate your own goal-setting and dedication to things like coming in on time and avoiding excessive distractions. You also want to avoid being a Scrooge, so try to bear in mind that after all, it is a special time of year, and you have to be prepared to make allowances within reason.

Consider Bringing in a Speaker

The end of the year can be a terrific time to bring in a motivational speaker to speak to your team. People tend to think back over what they’ve accomplished, and look forward to what they want the new year to bring, and a great speaker/trainer can help keep your team members’ minds on their professional accomplishments and goals. And the occasional break from the office routine can do everyone a world of good.

Take Time to Celebrate

Whether you allow team members to decorate their cubicles for the holidays, arrange a celebratory lunch, or have an informal cookie swap or game tournament, it’s OK to celebrate at work. If you are unable to get holiday gifts for your employees, you can still make things nicer by bringing in bagels, fetching gourmet coffee, or if nothing else, telling each and every team member that you are grateful for what they do.

There’s no getting around the fact that at most workplaces, the month of December is unlike all the rest. For some, business shifts into high gear, while for others, things slow down as team members take time off and clients stay busy with their own end-of-year challenges. Showing that you understand this, and encouraging everyone to communicate consistently can prevent problems and keep everyone on track during what can be an unpredictable time.

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