Planning for Your Holiday Break

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Somehow it is already mid-December — WOW!

These next few weeks are exciting and stressful as they are filled with days off, celebrations, times with family and friends, AND hitting all those year-end deliverables!

This afternoon, let’s plan the rest of the year. Where to start?

Try working through some of the questions below:

  • What days are you off of work? Who is covering for you (and did you ask/tell them yet)?
  • What are the big projects you need to complete by the end of 2016 (or even early 2017)?
  • What progress HAS to be made now to be successful?
  • What resources are you planning on leveraging to make this project successful? How much do they know about this project? Engage them now, while they’re still in the office!
  • Break your work into small, manageable chunks – give yourself something to celebrate at the end of each day, knowing you’re getting even closer to completion of the goal!

By taking the time to plan out the next two weeks, you may save yourself the stress of wondering how you’ll get everything done!

That way, you may ACTUALLY be able to relax and enjoy your time off.

YOU deserve it!

Prepping Your Team for the Holidays

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Each day we knock out is one day closer to the end of the year!

You know, as well as your team, that there is a lot to get done this time of year. Not to mention the uncommonly large number of personal festivities we all have going on!

One suggestion that rings true throughout the year, but especially during the holidays, is to stay transparent with your team on expectations and deadlines..

You want your team to have a great time with their friends and family AND you want to maintain their fabulous performance! Transparency will help.

What does that mean?

Think about what expectations you hold for your team. These could be things like:

  • Having v2 of product development complete by December 31st
  • Continuing to provide the same level of customer satisfaction your brand is known for
  • Holding a strategy meeting to look into what you can do differently in the first few months of 2017
  • Making sure your team actually takes a couple of days off to avoid burnout

In your next 1×1 or team meeting, share what you want to see happen over the next few weeks.

By openly discussing your expectations and timelines envisioned (or promised!), you’ll avoid hearsay and allow your team the opportunity to ask questions to help further clarify what you need from them (and how you can help them knock it out of the park!).

Try it out and let us know how it goes!

Celebrating your team during the holidays

Celebrating your team during the holidays

Welcome to December, 2016- I can’t believe we’ve made it!

As your team has their last big push to the end of the year, we’d encourage you to celebrate them and what they’ve done this year!

You know, as well as we do, that choosing to honor your team and let them know they are seen is a great way to encourage morale as the “season of personal distractions” is upon us!

Need some tips on where to start?

  • Have a celebratory lunch where you highlight the biggest accomplishments you guys hit this year
  • Think about each team member and how you’ve seen them change or grow. In your next 1×1 (or team meeting) share with them what you’ve noticed
  • Leave an encouraging note on each of your team members desks with something that your proud of them for

You may think some of these are cheesy and, yet, choosing to say to your team, “I see you, I know you’ve been working hard” can be more impactful than you might think!

So, try it out and let us know what you do to celebrate your team!

How to Survive the Company Holiday Party

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.19.06 AMTHE HOLIDAY PARTY!!!!

Or.

The. Holiday. Party………………

Do the three words ‘company’ ‘holiday’ and ‘party’ in the same sentence make you break out in hives? Or do you look forward all year to being able to hang with your work friends in a pretty cool (or different) location?

Now that you’re here (and lookin’ mighty festive, I might add!) – now what? How do you survive (and thrive!) at your company holiday party? We’ve got some conversation starters, stoppers, and stallers to help!

Starters: Need a topic to talk about? People LOVE to talk about themselves. Try these questions!

Don’t know the person you’re talking to very well?

  • What are you doing for the holidays/new years?
  • We’re trying to figure out what to do for next year’s summer vacation – what’s your favorite vacation spot? Any recommendations?
  • I’m in-between books (or TV shows) – what have you been reading lately that you really like?
  • My cat has been CRAZY this time of year with all of the travel and work hours! Do you have any pets?

Worked with them on a few projects, but want to get to know them more?

  • The holidays are always when I start reflecting on the year – what is the coolest (most exciting / impactful / rewarding) thing you did this year?
  • I’m starting to marinate on what to have as my new year’s resolutions – what are thinking about putting on your resolutions list for this year?
  • What did you learn about yourself (workstyle /personal motivation / personality) this year that was most surprising?

Stoppers:

  • Politics: As the election is coming closer, the candidates (and some in particular!) are on everyone’s mind. While this can be quite the (maybe not so joyous) conversation starter we’d recommend steering clear of this one!
  • Religion: Most people believe something and most people don’t want to hear all about what everyone else believes. If you find yourself telling a story where religion is as essential part, make it approachable. There is a way to present what you believe while not sounding like it is your way or the high way.

Stallers: In the middle of a conversation that’s not going well? Try these!

  • Use the bathroom as your friend. Excuse yourself, head to the bathroom for a quick moment, and then rejoin a different group.
  • Use the dance floor as a distraction.
    • Love to dance? Use it as a way to get you and your friend out of the convo and onto boogying!
    • Don’t love to dance? Not a problem. You can always see who is across the dance floor and remember a topic you have to go to talk to them about!
  • “It was so great to meet you!” or “it was so great to see you again!” is a great line to insert in when you can feel a conversation starting to run dry.

We hope these help you survive (and thrive!) at your company’s holiday party.

Have an awesome time!

Holiday Gifts: The Struggle is Real

Holiday Gifts: The Struggle is Real

The holidays. A fabulous time of festivities, cheer, and well – holiday presents for your Direct Reports.

Shopping for your DR’s can be tricky. How do you get them something that shows you care and appreciate them, but not break the bank?

ESPECIALLY for those who you’ve worked with for a while (they do very much appreciate that Starbucks gift card, but really- 5 years in a row?!).

We put together a list of resources that should get your holiday-shopping juices flowing – organized by the types of personalities you work with.

Is their coveted desk display a signed John Elway picture? This sports lover would love an NFL blanket (it’s the best way to watch sports games at home):

http://www.fanatics.com/NFL_Blankets

Do they always give thoughtful but funky gifts for the Secret Santa at work? This place is great for the person who likes those things you can never find in the store:

http://www.uncommongoods.com

Do you feel like you’ve stepped into a Restoration Hardware catalog when you walk past their pod? For the decorator, this site could be a cool option:

https://shop.magnoliahomes.net/collections/decorate

Is their favorite out-of-work activity to head to the spa? Try candles with a totally different flare:

http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/category/candles/home-candle.jsp#/

When they plan a happy hour, does it tend to ere on the side of a fun, relaxed wine bar? Why not get them what they love?

www.winelibrary.com

Do they come back from vaca pumped about their service trip they just went on? Try this website allows you to give money to a cause and then track the progress it is making:

https://www.globalgiving.org/gifts/

Check these out and see if you can find something interesting. And, be sure to let us in on your great holiday gift ideas too!

The Lions

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Wait? The Lions?

At this point in time I’d guess you are thinking one of two things: 1) Um, Who? Is that some sports team? Or 2) The Lions? I know they have Stafford but is he really getting them the wins they need?

As Americans, we’re known for a few quirky traditions on our Thanksgiving holiday– but one that touches all is the Detroit Lions football team: they always play on Thanksgiving and they always play that game at home.

They must be amazing, right?! Not so. In the last 10 years – they’ve only won their last 2 games. Yikes – a 1:5 winning ratio.

For this game, though, it doesn’t really matter if they win or lose (though for a while whoever they were playing had high hopes of an additional “W” to their record) – it’s the fact that everyone comes together. It’s a moment when each family member treks into the room with the TV and takes a peek at the score with either a “YES!” or an “ughhhhh” to follow.

It can be so easy in the hustle and bustle of life to even be distracted on Thanksgiving. You need to make sure all the food is ready, that you leave on time, and prep yourself to see “that” family member that things have been a little tense with.

And, you also need to make sure you REST on your two days off before you run back to work on Monday (can you pencil my nap in at 2:00 p.m. on Friday?)

As we’ve been talking about all the ways to take a break, we encourage you to do so on Thanksgiving too. Put your feet up for a sec. Take delight in your family gathered around the table. Spend some extra time cranking out those awesome mashed potatoes of yours.

Don’t let the pressure of the holiday steal away from you the time that you have.

Maybe even sit down to watch the Lions play, with your family or friends, and use that as a great excuse to take that break you deserve!

Stories to Remember

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If you live in the United States, then on Monday you will probably walk outside to smell the fantastic aroma of burgers or brats cooking on a grill, with a dog barking and the buzz of bees trying to land on your watermelon.

Most of us have traditions of eating BBQ and spending time with family on Memorial Day.

It can be easy to forget why we celebrate this holiday.

This Memorial Day, share (or read, or listen to!) a story with your loved ones about someone you know who has served in the military.

Their stories, no matter how big or small, truly are ones to remember.

And, please share your stories with us too!