The holiday season can be a time of year when people are surrounded by family, friends, good food, and traditions. As a manager, you might be excited to get some much-needed rest and relaxation while also wondering how you’ll wrap up end-of-year projects alongside thoughts of celebrations.
You don’t want to lose your stride with a few days off, but you might be worried that getting too aggressive about deadlines can leave you seeming like the Grinch.
At HubSpot, a company that makes work culture a priority, our people managers are known for creatively and strategically hitting seasonal goals while still building team morale -- especially during the holiday season.
To help prevent your team from hitting the holiday slump, we’ve compiled advice from HubSpotters on how to keep teams on track while still embracing the holidays.
How to Avoid a Holiday Slump
1. Break down goals into achievable targets, phases, or quotas.
People can have a lot on their minds during the holidays, and having to achieve a certain number of goals by the end of the year can seem daunting and overwhelming.
To alleviate some stress that can arise during an end-of-year rush, split goals up into phases or steps. Your teams can check off smaller tasks that will contribute to achieving the larger goal, and as each step is completed, they’ll feel like they’ve succeeded and remain motivated to conquer the next phase.
“We all have end-of-year deadlines or goals — and at times — they can look very daunting. We’ve found it helpful to break them down into smaller targets,” says Tara Ryan, former Senior Sales Manager at HubSpot.
With her sales team, Ryan says she uses monthly and weekly quotas to break down major goals: "Quotas are easier to digest when we break them down into '25% attainment by the end of week one,' '50% attainment by the end of week two,' '75% by week three', and then '100%+ by the end of the month.'"
"The process of breaking down goals allows us to measure our progress on a weekly basis and more chances for us to celebrate team wins," Ryan adds.
When you do set goals, involve your team. Their input will let you know what they’re hoping to accomplish, so you can set realistic goals as a group and discuss how to tackle possible roadblocks.
“If I know we’re about to enter into a time where it’s easy to slow down, like the summer or holidays, I try to get my group together to brainstorm what we want to accomplish as a group and vote on one goal," says Caroline Ostrander, a Senior Manager on the Customer Onboarding team.
Like Ryan, Ostrander also embraces the idea of aiming for a limited number of reachable goals rather than trying to achieve everything all at once.
"One goal helps the team focus and prioritize when we might feel unmotivated. [After the vote], I look for one or two volunteers to lead the charge on the goal and find fun and creative ways to keep it top of mind,” Ostrander explains.
2. Prepare for winter weather hurdles with work-from-home protocols.
At HubSpot's Cambridge, MA headquarters, winter weather is familiar, and we understand how one big snowstorm can really knock us off our schedule. If you live in an area where winter weather can impact your workflow, staying ahead of this hurdle is essential. A great way to do this is to devise a winter protocol for your team.
Larry Rodman, former Customer Support Manager, suggests asking your team members to take their laptops and work devices home with them if there's a possibility that your office might close during a storm.
"Always bring everything you need to work home [at the end of the work day; you never know what the weather will be on any given day," Rodman says.
If you live where winter weather isn’t an issue, it can still be beneficial to consider a work-from-home or hybrid model for the holiday season. It would give your employees more flexibility in how they work during a time when they may want to spend more time with loved ones, even if they do so while working.
The rise in popularity of remote work means that some of your employees might already be working from home or a hybrid model, so you can offer in-office employees the opportunity to take new flexibility during the holidays.
3. Encourage team members to take time off for the holidays.
Your employees have a life outside of work, so aim to encourage your team members to take time off for themselves during the holidays when they don’t work at all.
"Be transparent and empathetic with your team. Make sure they are comfortable taking time off at the holidays," says Senior Director of Marketing Amanda Sibley. She encourages her team to share their off days on a shared calendar, but also clearly communicates expectations to ensure people don’t lose steam.
"I ask for 100% effort until they are off," Sibley says. "I often will say something like, 'It's really important to take time off, so I'm glad you all have chosen a week during the holidays! -- Until then, in order for us all to relax and enjoy family time, we need to be at 100%, so please focus until that time!"
Encouraging your employees to take time off also has proven psychological benefits. Studies show that it can make people more productive, and when people are removed from environments that they may associate with anxiety, their stress levels can lower. Employees who feel refreshed and less stressed are more likely to come back to work with a clear head, ready to start the year off on a positive note.
4. Give employees a day or even a few hours for holiday errands.
Even with upcoming time off, people's minds can wander with thoughts of holiday errands and planning before upcoming celebrations. To help employees remain focused while at work, you can offer additional hours off to prep for the holidays ahead of time.
"Give time for those who need it to handle the crazy stuff needed for the holidays," suggests Sibley. "What about a half-day in the middle of the week or in early December to do all their holiday shopping when the crowds are less?"
This tip can be helpful when paired with offering remote work options, as team members can take breaks from work while accomplishing separate tasks. For example, if employees prepare for an at-home celebration, they can take breaks to cross off items on their to-do lists and return to work with a clear head.
5. Celebrate the holidays — and your team's accomplishments.
Lastly, embrace the holiday season, celebrate, and end your year on a high note. After all, you and your team have worked hard to achieve your annual goals.
"Don’t pretend like the holidays aren’t happening. Celebrate with your team," encourages Senior Social Media Manager Kelly Hendrickson; "Knowing there is a specific time for fun, helps focus that holiday spirit."
End-of-year celebrations allow teams to bond, review the year’s accomplishments, and show gratitude for one another. The holidays can also be challenging for some people, so creating space to celebrate and spread cheer at work can be a welcome opportunity that boosts morale.
Aside from general celebration, the most important goal of these events is to have fun and reward your teammates for a year of hard work. When planning an end-of-year meeting, Ryan suggests asking each of your team members to note one individual or group accomplishment that they’re most proud of from the past year. "This is a great chance to remind the team of all the wins you had together over the last 12 months," says Ryan.
Rodman also says he emphasizes team accomplishments at end-of-year celebrations, explaining that rewarding accomplishments can help to motivate your team even after they return from the holidays.
Get in the Holiday Spirit
It can be easy to forget how fun the holidays are when thinking about end-of-year deadlines. But, as we've seen from HubSpot managers above, getting in the holiday spirit will benefit your mood and your team. Don't be afraid to embrace the pleasantries of this time of year.