Our culture has an expectation of the picture perfect “Norman Rockwell” holiday experience. Family gathered around a beautifully set table, a lovely home-cooked holiday meal. Yet for many, many people, the holidays are one of the most stressful times of the year. With the state of the economy and many people’s business and/or personal finances, the holidays may be even more stressful than usual this year. On a professional level, if you are a business owner, entrepreneur or executive your business may still be suffering from the state of the economy. At this time of year when employees are hoping for bonuses, parties or some other sort of acknowledgment, what will you be able to do this year to keep up morale? It may not be realistic from a budgetary standpoint to do much, but with all the stress and challenges, doing nothing just reinforces the sense that “things aren’t right” yet. It’s difficult for a team to perform at their peak when extremely stressed. Finding a way to reassure and boost morale is an important leadership move.
On a personal level the pressure to meet family expectations often increases stress levels and doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in us. Old dynamics and family patterns can make people dread family time during the holidays. The state of the economy may also be impacting the scale of how you normally celebrate, which can increase the stress of what may already be a stressful time.
With all this potential for stress, you may find yourself, or those around you getting “triggered” more frequently. Whether in the work place or at home, are you prepared to be a role model and to lead during these stressful times? It’s a good idea to take a few minutes to prepare and reflect about this and review your skills for navigating upsets. We have a paper on our web site about managing upsets and there is a great formula at the end for dealing with them. http://www.2130partners.com/articles/
Another key to keep in mind is that when things around us are breaking down there is an opportunity for reinvention. For example, if your company has always thrown a pricey holiday party or given a bonus and that’s not possible this year, why not organize a group charity event? Take the team out for a few hours and give back to the community in some way as a group. It’s an opportunity to bond, and to build morale through giving back. Perhaps do a competitive food or coat drive within your organization and give a prize to the team or individual that brings in the most donations? Employees can decorate, get promotional and get in the team spirit for a competition like this.
To find charity and volunteer opportunities in the Seattle area you can click here http://bit.ly/304kCa
To find opportunities in Orange County you can click here http://www.volunteercenter.org/
Almost anywhere in the US has a United Way and they also have volunteer opportunities and information.
Perhaps one of the best leadership moves you can make is to collaborate with your team and family about what will happen this year as far as celebrations. Be honest about what you see as realistic and ask for creative suggestions and input. Getting others involved will make them feel a sense of ownership and there are a lot of festive people out there who love a chance to get creative about celebrating.
Most of all, give yourself a break, meaning, be kind to yourself. The more positive your own internal dialogue is, the better you will be able to treat those around you and the better you will be able to successfully navigate what may be a stressful time.