The festivities are finished and reluctantly back to work we go, having scraped the early-morning ice off our cars and battled our way through the daily commute.
The first few days back after the holidays are often pretty unproductive. It takes time for people to slowly grind their brain back into gear and remember what on earth it was they were doing before the big get-away.
But if you want to get the New Year off to a good start, it’s important not to let people linger too long in the festive fog. So what can you as a manager do to get the team geared up and ready for the challenges of 2017?
1. Let people settle in
Give people a bit of time to get back into the swing of work. It’s only natural for them to want to swap stories about the turkey that didn’t defrost in time, the car that broke down on Boxing Day and the unfortunate antics of New Year’s Eve.
Allow everyone at least a couple of hours to catch up, acclimatise and clear their inbox of holiday junk mail before you launch in with any inspirational New Year messages.
2. Get the team together
Hold a team meeting as soon as possible to get everyone focused on the immediate priorities and to talk about what’s on the agenda for 2017. Make it a dialogue, not a diatribe. You will have messages you want to get across – but it’s also important to give people the chance to talk about their challenges and ideas and to ask questions.
Set a positive vibe by asking everyone to identify one good thing that that’s happened in the first few days back – and what they are excited about going forward.
3. Refresh individual objectives
It’s easy for people to lose sight of exactly what it is they personally need to achieve after a long break. Try to make time to sit down with people individually to either remind them of their core objectives or, if appropriate, to set new ones.
Make sure people understand how their role fits into the bigger picture and seek their input on how best they think they can achieve the goals that have been set. If people have been part of the discussion, they are much more likely to commit to any action that’s been agreed.
4. Have a career conversation
The beginning of the year is also a good time to talk to people individually about their career aspirations. Many employees will have had the opportunity to reflect over the break about what it is they want from life and work. Some people – often the ones you really don’t want to lose – may have decided it’s time to look for pastures new.
If you know what people’s aspirations are, you may be able to help by providing new challenges and opportunities – which in some cases might prevent a talented individual walking out of the door.
5. Plan something social
Let’s face it, January can be a pretty grim month. Everyone’s broke, on a diet, doing ‘dry’ January and the weather’s usually cold and miserable. Give the team something to look forward to by organising a fun social event (maybe avoiding anything food or drink-related that will tempt people to break their resolutions!).
Whether it’s bowling, go-karting or a team trip to the cinema, try and find something that’s inclusive and will give people the prospect of a bit of fun amidst the general gloom.