The holidays can be a mixed blessing for those of us involved in implementing organization change. While it’s wonderful to get together with family and friends to celebrate the season, the additional social commitments add an extra layer of complexity to our already demanding schedules. Along with pushing to meet year-end deadlines and business responsibilities, we’re thinking about what we have to do to prepare for the year ahead. It’s easy for the holiday season to become a sort of mental juggling session that leaves us feeling more stressed than refreshed.
However, the right approach can turn this challenging time into an opportunity to truly rejuvenate yourself, strengthen your team, and move forward with your organization transformation. The key is to allow yourself to pull back a little bit, step out of the fray and fury of trying to drive hard towards your change objectives, and align yourself with the season.
This year I’d like to suggest three practices that can help you create a holiday experience that is both enjoyable and productive:
Disconnect. This Thanksgiving, for the first time ever in his career, one of my colleagues turned off his cell phone, put a vacation responder on his email, and didn’t look at his messages for four days. When I asked how his holiday went, he got a big grin on his face and said, “It was fantastic!” Disconnecting enabled him to focus on family and friends, and enjoy the holiday without the constant background stress of thinking, “I’ve got to get this done,” or “I’ve got to respond to this,” or “I owe this to so-and-so.” Now, his disconnecting didn’t halt the flood of demands placed on him. He did come back to 500 emails in his inbox. But the world didn’t stop, disaster didn’t happen, and he didn’t die. Instead, he came back to work truly revitalized and ready to take on the world.
The reason the holidays present such a wonderful opportunity to do this is that it’s a socially sanctioned time to disconnect. Many others are doing it, too, and there’s no need to provide an explanation or worry that others will think you’re slacking off. Even if it’s just for a day, I would encourage you to choose a period of time this holiday season to completely disconnect from all things work-related, and simply relax and enjoy yourself and your family and friends.
Practice gratitude. Psychological studies indicate that the practice of gratitude brings a whole slew of benefits, including improved health, happiness, and self-esteem; lowered rates of depression; resilience to stress; and better sleep. One study found that employees who were thanked for their efforts worked harder and were more productive.
The holidays are a perfect time of year to thank both your team and your family for the contributions and sacrifices they have made. Acknowledge your colleagues and employees for their hard work and extra hours, the sacrifices they’ve made away from family, or the extra travel they’ve had to do. Thank your family for their support and for the little things they do that make your life easier and more enjoyable. Let them all know their efforts are appreciated.
Evaluate your team. As you are reflecting on your team and thanking them for their contributions, take a moment to also evaluate the team you have. Do you have a team capable of doing the change you’re trying to drive? While more people don’t always make every project better, we have found that in many organizations, people are taking on really significant work without the resources needed for it. This is a good time to ask yourself: “have we resourced this transformation or change effort with the kind of commitment, skill sets, and horsepower that we really need to see this through in a significant way?”
Disconnecting for a stretch and expressing gratitude can help you center yourself and give you the mental and emotional break needed to hit the new year strong and ready. Allow yourself to step back and reflect objectively on your needs. For the benefit of your organization, have you really put the kind of resourcing and horsepower behind your project that implementing organization change in a successful way requires? Do you have enough people? Do they have the training and resources they need? If not, do an assessment of your needs. Once you’ve done that, you can then start to think about how to go about getting it or finding approval for it.
People think of the holidays as a busy time, and they are. But the thing to remember is that you have control over how you spend your holiday time. With thought and planning, you can make of it what it was originally intended to be: a time of reflection, celebration, and rejuvenation that will prepare you well for the year ahead.
From my team at AlignOrg Solutions to you and your team, we wish you a very happy holiday season, and we look forward to contributing to your success in 2018!