December has often felt to me like a throw-away month in business. Between the time spent decorating the office, organizing Secret Santa partners, planning the staff holiday party, dealing with vacation schedules, and managing my personal holiday activities and traditions, it seems the biggest Christmas miracle is if actual work gets done. The most commonly uttered phrase behind "Happy Holidays" is "I'll get to that after the holidays." We are still operating a business, people. Wait, did I say that out loud? I'm such a Grinch.
So how do we lead well while acknowledging both the need to get things done and the need to embrace built-in rhythms of life--including rest and celebration?
First of all, we have to embrace the truth that full rest is a key component to high energy and productivity. According to authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz of The Power of Full Engagement, we're decreasing productivity by pretending we can will ourselves to work non-stop without intentional periods of constructive rest. Loehr and Schwartz contend that life is not a marathon, as commonly stated, but a series of short sprints followed by restorative activity designed to prepare us for the next sprint.
What would happen if, instead of seeing December as the last few miles of the yearly marathon, we envisioned it to be part of the much needed restoration before the next sprint (i.e. January)? Here are a couple of ideas:
1) Intentionally focus on the strengths of each staff member. Give notes of specific praise. Encouragement goes a long ways in increasing energy.
2) Set realistic work expectations. The holidays can bring increased stressed. This, combined with schedules that are often less routine and increased social expectations leaves less energy for other areas. Keep that in mind as you feel the need to keep pushing your staff to be productive
3) Lead the way in creating intentional space for rest in the midst of holiday craziness--even as you continue to complete the tasks necessary to ensure your staff and your residents are well cared for.