It’s that time of year

As we enter the week of Thanksgiving, and head into the core US holiday season, we’re supposed to be thinking about giving thanks and being generous.  Of course, we’re also entering the final stretch of the quarter and the year, so we’re over-committed at work and trying to balance our obligations at home as well.  It’s a tricky time to be an effective employee.

It’s worth noting, however, that managers are also soon going to be working on annual performance reviews.  And while we all know reviews should cover the entire year’s work, often times a high-impact event at the close of the year gets some extra mental attention during this busy time.  So what can you do at work to bring a little bit of what the holidays are supposed to be about into your routine?

Be thankful

A simple “thank you” goes a long way.  A more complex “thank you” goes a little further.  “Thanks, Bill, I wouldn’t have thought of looking there, you made my day a lot easier.”  It takes 15 seconds to type that, and whoever you are thanking probably saved you more than 15 seconds.  So send the email.  Better yet, drop by their cubicle, or say something when you spot them in the hallway.

Be generous

Sitting in your inbox is that simple request.  It’ll take you a couple minutes to process it, and you have so much else going on, but it’ll really make a difference in that person’s day.  So ttop putting it off.  Set aside 5 minutes this morning to be helpful, and then go on to your “real” work.

You can also be generous with your praise.  Saying “thank you” is great, but copying the boss is generous as well.  It wins on so many levels it’s hard to even list them.  I’m not suggesting every single “thanks” needs a cc: line, but once in a while it’s a powerful tool.

It doesn’t need to be a “thanks” either.  Sometimes you can just directly tell someone about great performance by a team member.  I recently sent an email to a senior director letting him know about a great moment with someone in his organization.  His response was that he rarely receives that kind of direct feedback.  Flood your management with emails and you’ll get ignored.  Target a couple moments of high performance, though, and you’re playing with powerful tools.

Balance your life

It’s crucial now to remember your work-life balance, and that of your teammates.  Tensions may be high, and small things leap into significance. Don’t forget that for some people, the holidays are a time of joy and pleasure … while others are on an emotional rollercoaster.

As for yourself, be present at your family dinner; put down the Blackberry and enjoy the blackberry pie instead.  That email will still be there after the kids are in bed.

The great thing about gestures like this is that they multiply. You are essentially increasing the positive climate, and as a colleague of mine recently put it, when the tide rises all ships rise with it.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Charles on 11.24.09 at 2:30 am

Great advice, thanks for reminding us all! Very timely post.