The holidays are upon us, and if you’re anything like me, you are already overwhelmed trying to keep up with work while you prepare for holiday parties, find those perfect gifts, get the holiday cards out, and bake cookies for the school holiday program.
Beyond all the stress there is also anticipation and joy that this season brings as we spend time with those we love and feel grateful for all that we have.
If you’re a leader at work, you may be planning a holiday lunch or party (in person or on Zoom), getting some gift cards for your staff, or exchanging gifts.
But there is often one overlooked gift that you can give your employees that will have lasting effects and make a bigger impact than those Starbucks gift cards and holiday treats. It’s the gift of time.
Leadership is not a passive process. Great leadership requires action. In this season of gratitude, one of the best things you can do as a leader is to display your gratitude toward each and every one of your employees. The gifts and staff lunches are nice, but what employees truly want and need is your support, feedback, and undivided attention.
Here are five ways to show your gratitude as a leader this holiday season:
Schedule uninterrupted time. In our busy world, it can be tough to find enough space in your calendar to take a lunch break let alone meet with each of your employees. Yet spending individual time with each staff member is the job of a leader (even if it’s over Zoom!). One of the most important areas of focus as a manager should be coaching and developing your employees. Exceptional leaders support their employees by coaching them through challenges, providing feedback, and discussing professional goals. One Gallup poll revealed that 87% of Millennials said development is important to them in a job. Carve out time with each employee to talk about their personal and professional goals.
Conduct a “stay” interview. The end of the year is the perfect time to “take the temperature” of your relationship with each employee, and how they feel about your credit union. This means finding out how the employee is doing, and identifying any challenges or issues that may be impacting the employee and their performance. Many organizations wait until someone leaves before they ask questions about how employees feel about their manager, their benefits, and the culture. A better approach is to conduct a “stay” interview. Asking your employee questions like, “What will keep you here?” “What’s most important to you in a job?” or “What can I do as a manager to better support you?” will give you valuable information on how to keep your top performers, as well as strengthen the relationship.
Give meaningful feedback. This is such a simple concept, yet most leaders don’t take the time to do it. Feedback helps your employees improve their work and performance. If your boss had information that would help you to perform your job better, would you want them to tell you? Of course you would. And so do your employees. They are probably not standing at your door asking for it, but they want it and they need it to progress to their professional goals. And make sure the feedback is meaningful. Saying to an employee, “you’re doing a great job” may make them feel good, but it doesn’t provide any useful information.
Say “Thank you”. It’s very simple, yet very powerful. Every employee wants to feel acknowledged and appreciated for the work that they put in. Yet most leaders fail to say the simple words, “thank you”. Thank you for your dedication to that project, thank you for coming in that weekend to help fix the server issue, thank you for always being here and supporting our team, etc. Gallup’s latest workforce report revealed that only 37% of U.S. employees are engaged, meaning that most employees are not bringing their full mental, physical, and emotional energy to work every day. Appreciation and acknowledgement have a significant impact on engagement and productivity.
Give the gift of time off. The past two years have been challenging for most of us. Your employees have had to navigate working differently and deal with managing their children’s remote learning. For many of us, it feels like our world was turned upside down. Most employees are exhausted and languishing. Providing your employees with a day off can be just the respite they need to start off the new year feeling more refreshed and engaged.
In the midst of your holiday preparations, one of the best things you can do to prepare for a fantastic year ahead is to spend meaningful time with your employees. The extra effort will ensure a great start in January and an exceptional year overall.