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Monica Wofford, CSP, is a professional speaker and CEO of Contagious Companies, a training and consulting firm that develops better leaders and trains managers how to become better leaders. Her Monday Moment has been a popular leadership learning tool since 2006!

Do you have employees who are NOT on Santa’s nice list?

Some employees just are not on Santa’s nice list. You want to give them the gift of letting bad behavior slide, but don’t be fooled, as that’s the worst thing you can do. Leadership is a year-long, consistent practice and acting as if there’s no problem now, will make January a disaster. So, what do you do when the difficult employee’s behavior gets worse, the tardy one’s come in later, and the poor performer moves even slower? You take
action… in one of these three ways.

Consistently document and discuss the issue

Just because Santa’s coming to town does not mean you look the other way when an employee’s performance slips. This is the time to be diligent and reel them back in to at least the appearance of adherence to your standards. Now, if your standards slip during holiday time that is another matter entirely. Continue to document as you would in mid-spring and write things down. Then take the time to have a quick counseling chat and focus on turning their behavior around.

Use compassion, but firm boundaries

There are those employees with issues that you know once in your office, they’ll need tissues. There’s something about being called in to see the boss that stresses them to the point of emotional overload and that is likely to only get worse during the holidays. If you have a difficult employee who is always showing up late, for example, and gives you excuses in non-holiday times, think of how many more excuses they now have to choose from. Think of how much they can blame their behavior on and how easy it would be for you buy in hook, line, and sinker. It’s not being a hard nose, it’s about running your business. Be compassionate and empathize, but set boundaries. Understand how you would feel if you happened to be in their shoes and also remember that if you WERE in their shoes you would be sitting on the other side of the desk. The task before you is to guide them to perform in spite of their excuses, not sit beside them forgiving all their excuses.

Prevent employees from mistaking kindness for weakness in all that you do

Letting an employee leave early to attend family events or come in late on occasion this time of year is not a crime. It’s the holidays and even a leader’s holiday spirit is contagious. You can let things slide, but be careful of employee’s confusing your kindness and jovial nature with weakness. This doesn’t mean that you can’t let things slip at all, but be mindful that if the leader becomes a doormat, performance will rapidly fall.

Leadership isn’t a once yearly event any more than Christmas is a year-long occasion. This holiday season simply remember your role and pay attention to your work goals, while bringing a bit of good cheer to the close of a great year.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

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