One of the toughest challenges for any business leader at the start of the New Year is getting people back into work mode and properly focused on the job in hand.
There is no doubt that no matter how ambitious and driven we might be as individuals we all need a break from the office to recharge our batteries every now and then. It's great to get away from work for a while but the Christmas break can sometimes cause problems. Unless you stay on top of the situation it can be very easy to lose focus in the office and there can be a tendency for the disruption of the holidays to drift into the New Year.
I have found that one of the best ways to avoid this is to arrange meetings with key members of staff as soon as possible and talk them through your vision for the year. It is important for them to understand what the plan is for the company and the targets that have been set for the wider organisation. The key is to get them feeling positive, energised and focused - and by having a clear goal mapped out, you give them something to aspire to.
The start of a new year is a good time for people to draw up new aims and ambitions for themselves. Personal progression should be a key driver for every member of staff, and everyone should have an idea of what they want to get out of the next 12 months. This could be additional skills, or perhaps more responsibility. Ask your staff what they want to improve on, and perhaps set aside a budget for things like training courses.
Incentives can also play a key role at this time of year. People can sometimes be slow to get off the mark in January, but if there is a tangible reward linked to their performance, this can be just the pick-me-up they need.
Of course, the financial side of things is only one part of a person's working life. And no matter how well rewarded a person is, they will only ever be truly satisfied if they enjoy coming to work. As a manager, this is the exact time of year when you need to create a positive atmosphere. A combination of the holidays finishing and the gloomy weather means that your staff may be in a less than ideal state of mind for the first few weeks; but if you have fostered the right culture, this shouldn't last for long.
If people understand the need to roll up their sleeves and enjoy the challenges that lie ahead, then the Christmas season can be viewed as a useful break in the middle of the winter rather than a disruption.