Managing the Holidays

I’m stressed. Last month, an early New England snow storm caused major damage to an investment property I own. I had to pay for early snowplowing, tree removal, and a $9,000 roof. Post-storm sales at work have hit a rough patch causing me and my team extra worry during an already worrisome time of year. And I bet I am not the only one past due to begin my Christmas shopping.

Gift giving rituals seem to be getting more and more absurd. This season, like the last few, gift cards will be the most popular gift. CNN Money reported in November that 80% of people will buy gift cards this holiday season. I find gift cards to be a cold and thoughtless gifts. I understand the logic behind a gift card – the recipient can buy something he or she actually wants – but this is a case of logic ruining the emotional exercise of gift giving. Besides, many gift card givers will just end up receiving the same cards from friends and family.

It’s harder being a manager during the holidays. Managers and direct reports are under added pressure – cars need repairs, houses needs fixing up before the relatives come over, and workloads for people who work in retail either increase (i.e. electronics) or decrease dramatically (i.e. furniture).

I am trying to get my team looks past these pressures by beginning preliminary goal setting for next year. What do they hope to achieve in 2012? Which areas of their performance will they try to  improve in 2012? My message has been one of survival – if we can make it through the next few weeks we have a bright year of potential and possibility waiting for us.

More and more I realize how the holiday season is tinged with stress and worry. Holidays should be a time when worries are consumed by tradition; when nostalgia for simpler times prevails over modern stresses. I’d like to wrap up my year with a few quiet days with family – a few moments without television, cell phones and Facebook updates to distract our hearts from life’s most valuable relationships. If that’s too much to ask, then I’ll just look forward to January 1, 2012.


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