Here it is a few days before Christmas. What have you said to your employees? How will they feel leaving the office today or tomorrow? For many, the next 10 days or so will be spent away from the office. It is an extended time to be with family. It’s also a time for reflection on successes of the past year and thinking about adjustments for the year to come. What do you want them to think about?

Decades ago, leaders could wish employees a “Very Merry Christmas,” and be done with it. Today, more is required. You can reach out to them and talk realistically and candidly about 2017 and prepare for 2018. You can set the stage for your employees to engage in powerful and directed self-reflection.

Here are ideas I have used in delivering appropriate holiday messages:
1. Speak realistically about 2017. Don’t sugarcoat the downside, and accentuate the upside. “We faced stiff competition this year, but we remain focused on achieving the benefits…”
2. Make realistic, comparative statements about the competition. Give reasons why your organization is better than the others. As part of this, describe the strengths your company brings.
3. Identify in clear terms the opportunities for success in 2018. Articulate these in terms of outcomes. Be specific.
4. Most importantly, connect each employee to the success of 2017 and their value to 2018. Show them how their individual contribution has made a difference, and how it will continue to make a difference. Note, even if their performance appraisal isn’t where either of you would like it to be, they’ve still contributed. This is not the time for a performance improvement discussion. Recognize their contribution, regardless of magnitude.

Use these tips to set the stage. Provide a solid foundation of appropriate feedback for them to think about their successes and opportunities for growth. I return, they’ll come back next year ready to contribute and provide even greater value.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

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