How you show up at the end of the year is just as important as how you show up at the beginning of the year. In December there are usually more opportunities to connect with colleagues (think office holiday party), as well as with family and friends. Although the content and tone differ depending on the kind of gathering you’re attending, some best practices for ending the year “strong,” using good communication skills, are similar. Just like at any other time of the year, what you say matters and how you say it matters a lot. Let’s focus on the work front: during this time of year, when the holidays represent different things to different people, you can underline the professional presence you’ve honed all year, or you can unintentionally undermine it (think gossiping at holiday gatherings).
The reflective nature of year-end and the possibilities the new year brings offer a terrific opportunity to talk about your and your colleagues’ achievements, as well as to focus on the priorities ahead. And perhaps most importantly, this time also is a chance to let people know how much you care.
If you manage a team, a year-end message is a good way to connect broadly and authentically. Begin by recognizing successes: thank people for their hard work during the year, and provide some insight into the new year’s goals. In addition, be sure to highlight the need to take a break and just breathe before the new year starts. Let people see how much you appreciate them as team members and human beings. Depending on your organization’s culture, your message could be sent electronically, posted on your organization’s message board, or even snail-mailed via a now almost quaint, holiday card. On the flip side, be careful about sending the wrong message. For example, if your organization has had a tough year, a holiday card showing you and your family skiing in Switzerland or lounging on the beach in Hawaii would be like coal in the stocking!
If you’re not managing others, still use this time of year to connect with your colleagues. Take time to think about what they’ve accomplished. Acknowledge their hard work and contributions – if applicable, note and appreciate any opportunities you’ve had to work together over the past year. Wish them a good holiday season, in whatever ways they celebrate it, and genuinely wish them the best in the new year. Again, the key here is to be sure to let others know that you care.
Warm thoughts to all in this holiday season and very best wishes for a terrific 2018!