Spread Holiday Cheer During High-Stress Work Seasons

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” if you are a holiday shopper or diner.  The lights twinkle more brightly and everyone is full of cheer.  However, for the retail clerk or the restaurant server, it can be the most stressful season of all. It is difficult to serve with a smile while under stress, so leaders have to find ways to motivate their teams.

Consider these five tips to motivate your team this season:

1) Collectively serve or give to someone in need.

Generally, people love to give and when an organization enables employees to give to others, it lightens the load and generates a positive buzz among the team.  In my organization, one of the restaurant franchisees realized that one of the team members had to take a taxi to work every day.  For this single mother of four, she was spending a large portion of her earnings getting back and forth to work.  The franchisee decided to buy her a car and he invited the other employees to participate.  After members of his team had contributed funds, the franchisee paid the remainder.  The entire team was excited when the franchisee presented the car to the deserving employee.  Team members enjoy being empowered to give away small things too, even a dessert to a guest that appears to need a little joy.

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2) Encourage encouragement.

The boss is not the only one who can hand out compliments.  Make it part of the culture to encourage others and recognize those who do it well.  I once had a boss who often asked the question, “How do you know if someone needs encouragement?”  His answer, “If they are breathing, they need encouragement.”  Another leader made it a practice to speak to every team member on the shift and thank them for their work that day.

3) Recognize all that is right.

When lines get long, it is easy to point out what is wrong.  Make an effort to recognize what is right.  One great boss made it a point to brag on employees when family members came into the store to shop.  Young people beam with pride when the boss tells the parent what a great job they are doing.  Employees want their families to be proud of their work.

4) Get in the trenches with your team. 

Team members respect and are loyal to leaders who recognize when things are tough and jump in to help.  Run orders to tables.  Take out the trash.  Bag the order.  At my company, we sponsor a very large event during the holidays hosting tens of thousands of people.  There are opportunities for executives to enjoy the event from premium luxury seating.  Instead, these leaders jump in and support the effort and hosts guests, too.

5) Celebrate success.

When the holiday rush is over, take time out to celebrate the hard work of the team.  Show appreciation by taking the team on a special outing or rewarding with a catered meal of their favorite foods.  Consider even some special awards such as “gift wrapping guru” for the employee that spent the holiday season gift wrapping or “cheer meister award” for the employee that spread the most holiday cheer.

Use these tips to help your team survive the most stressful season and motivate your talent to remain with you in the coming year.