“The holiday rush to meet deadlines is over. My team is back, refreshed, and excited to work. It’s all smooth sailing from here!” - Said no manager ever.
We’re all in the same sailboat here folks, so let’s just be honest. It’s not exactly difficult to get used to watching holiday movies and wearing cozy pajamas from dawn till dusk. But since returning to work means swapping those pajamas in for work pants (by the way, did these things shrink?) your team members are likely to face a long list of tasks upon their return. So the question is, what can you do to help make the transition smoother?
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when your team is back to work after vacation.
Listen and Lead
Here at the Judge Group, we’ve seen the full gamut of management styles. While there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to leadership, being an active and approachable listener is key to understanding what tasks need to be prioritized.
Consider this: at the start of the new year, it’s often difficult to know where to begin. New work is piling on top of items that didn’t make the cut before the holiday bells began ringing—and what seems like a vacation hangover from the outside might simply be your team feeling overwhelmed. Are you sensing this? If so, it’s a great time to show your employees that you’re sticking beside them, rather than looming over them. Start by listening, then offer support in generating a prioritized to-do list. Collaborating on a plan of action will help inspire the confidence of your team.
Establish Long Term Goals
When returning to work after vacation, it’s easy to get bogged down in short-term thinking. Employees are often so focused on clearing their email inbox, voicemails, and the papers on their desk, that the big picture can become blurry. As a manager, be there to remind them that long term achievements are the currency of your company’s growth. They are also what gets written on resumes, and expedites an employee’s individual career growth.
Start by evaluating current project goals, and seek confirmation from your team that their current deadlines are realistic. Then, take time to set new goals for the year with each team member. This is also a great opportunity to offer earned praise, constructional criticism, as well as listen to suggestions.
Inspire and Motivate
It’s January, and the recognition that your colleagues won’t receive another extended break for months can create the post-holiday blues. For managers, this is a perfect time to inject a bit of motivation. Get your staff excited by organizing a mid-January team building event. Consider ideas like a potluck, a trivia night, or a stand up comedy show. Aim for activities that will create laughter, bring the team together, and boost morale.
In closing...you got this!
Try looking at being back to work after vacation as an opportunity rather than a challenge. While it’s true that the season can leave disorganization in its wake, it’s also a perfect time for managers to regroup and create excitement around the new year—building trust, loyalty and productivity.