Have you ever noticed around the holidays that we seem to appreciate one another a little more? There’s more good will in the air. We share our plans for the holidays and reconnect with the people who mean the most to us. We reflect over the gains and losses of the past year. We gather and we’re treated to a closer glimpse of what others value the most.
The momentum builds and crescendos around New Year’s Eve. Then, just like the ornaments we pack up until next year, that holiday mood gets stashed away and it’s back to reality around the office.
But what if we could hold onto some of the best seasonal sentiments and keep a bit of the holiday magic around the office all year?
What might change? What might we appreciate more? What might help us in our everyday work lives?
Connect and reconnect
Around the holidays we get more time to sit across the table with friends and family members. “So, tell me what’s happening,” we say. “Let’s catch up.” We go out of our way to say, “let’s connect,” and we schedule events to celebrate those connections. We tell our stories and we listen to others’ stories. We find lessons and common ground in those stories.
At the office, once the holiday “buzz” is over, it may seem awkward or unproductive to ask others what they’re up to. Yet if we deliberately continue to have those conversations, we not only stay connected, we will be less isolated in our individual work roles. When we discover what we have in common with our colleagues, we may pick up on opportunities to team up and complement one another’s efforts.
Find deeper value
If we listen during holiday get-togethers, we can learn things we never knew about the impact people have in their lives and the value they bring to others. Like why a friend volunteers with a group that helps special-needs kids. Or that a niece who has been promoted three times because she’s so great with customers. Maybe it’s a co-worker who puts in extra long hours so others can get extra time off. Whatever the experience, we gain a new appreciation for others dreams, goals, accomplishments and value.
We can find similar meaning in our conversations at work all year long.
But we get so busy that we often forget to share our value. We don’t share the impact of our actions at work and so we risk ending up seeing others’ roles as irrelevant if we even see them at all.
Instead, we can take a cue from holiday gatherings. We can listen for the stories behind the stories. When we pay attention to the value of others, we are better able to understand what motivates them and how we can help one another. We can link that value to the value of the company. We can harness that knowledge to show our appreciation and create new connections and opportunities for collaboration.
Take time to reflect
During the holiday season we devote time to periods of reflection. We take stock of what we’ve accomplished and what we still need to do. Traditional and social media prompt us to look back at the past year’s best and worst. We may reflect on our progress toward personal goals time when we go out for a run or swap 2016 calendars for 2017 versions. Reflection is often the topic of conversation when we sit on the back porch with friends and neighbors, or read through holiday cards and posts from people we care about.
Now what if we carried over that same sense of reflection into our work lives? Sure, we do some of that in our formal end-of-year summaries and reports. But those are usually relegated to the budget process, strategic planning or measuring fundraising goals. Why not continue self-reflection the rest of the year?
Instead of pushing that time of reflection aside on January 2, what if company leaders encouraged their teams to reflect continually and keep “value” in the forefront? We can harness the impact of the holiday pause and make it a part of our company’s culture. With a “ceasefire” of sorts built into our schedules, we allow time for creativity to bubble up. Innovative ideas often emerge when people have time to ponder what-if scenarios instead of going through the motions of an unchanging routine. Lastly, we have an opportunity to move from looking at what we “do” and have “done,” to what was our impact and what will our impact be moving forward?
OK, so what now?….Building momentum!
If you bring these three elements of the holiday season into your business life, you’ll be on the way to creating a shift in your culture.
- Connect and start conversations.
- Ask what people value about your organization.
- Ask yourself, “who am I sharing my value with and do I understand the value of those I work with?”
- Bring people together so they get a deeper sense of individual and collective value within the business.
- And lastly, take a close look at whether your work environment and practices allow you and the people around you time to reflect.
“You can build employee engagement when you bring key components of the holiday season into the workplace year-round,” says Al Emerick, founder of Value Mapping. “People and organizations deserve to fully understand and be able to share their value to grow and be happy. We are driven by our desire to guide others on this journey and evolve from ‘what’ we do to the ‘impact’ of what we do.