We are well under way this holiday season! The holidays can mean so many different things to different people; for some, it can be a somber time, remembering the loved ones that are no longer with them. For others it can be a festive time, with gifts, eggnog by the fire and holiday decorations. What do the holidays mean to you? What do you reflect upon or celebrate during the holidays?
For me the holidays are a time of joy; a time for love, togetherness, nourishment, giving and reflection. Sometimes, I wonder why it is that these kinds of positive thoughts surface so much during the holidays, but not as much during the rest of the year. Is it possible to integrate these thoughts into our everyday life, even our work life? Reflecting on the meaning of these words can unlock your connection to them and can give you a new, refreshed perspective on how they relate to you – so wouldn’t that benefit us the whole year around?
My work life centers around project management and our consultants work with our life sciences clients by helping them set up strategic goals and executing plans in a tactical manner, all while approaching it from a project management perspective. Whether working as one of our consultants or partnering with our clients, love, togetherness, nourishment, giving and reflection are all attributes that can add success to our work life and projects.
Love is defined as a variety of different emotional and mental states, typically strongly and positively experienced, that ranges from deepest interpersonal affection to simple pleasure. An example of this range of meanings is that the love of a mother differs from the love of a spouse differs from the love of food. Most commonly, love refers to a feeling of strong attraction and personal attachment. Love can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion and affection—”the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. It may also describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans, one’s self or animals.
During the holidays, we feel love for our family and friends by sharing thoughts in a holiday card, making handmade gifts or spending time trimming the Christmas tree. It is a time for saying, “I care about you,” or “I have concern for you,” or “I would like to share this with you.”
At work, love can also take many forms. It can be the passion that you have for your job – if you are to be successful at what you do, the love, devotion and dedication should shine through. This can motivate others around you and encourage them to see how this passion can guide them in a positive direction. Love can also be the concern for a colleague that is struggling with a workload or the kindness you give to a team member that is trying to be heard.
As a project manager, here are some tips for spreading love throughout a project:
1. Share love with your team. Communicate as much as you can that leading this team is your passion and you are devoted to making this team a success. Everyone wins!
2. Ask your team what tools they need. Some examples can include, setting defaults on the calendar to be more efficient with time, providing conflict resolution tips and recognizing each milestone achieved.
3. Provide support to each team member. – Some examples can include a recognition plan to promote what they accomplished on a project that may help them with a promotion or transfer or increase in responsibilities.
Togetherness is defined as, “the quality, state or condition of being together (into or in relationship, association, business or agreement, etc., as two or more persons).”
During the holidays, togetherness gives us a sense of belonging, feeling like we are part of a whole. There is a certain comfort or sense of safety in being associated with a group – having others to depend on and having a sense of belonging. Oftentimes this feeling happens when you sit down to a festive meal together, sing carols together or make holiday cookies together.
At work, togetherness is realized when each employee sees themselves as part of a larger entity – a group that comes together for a common goal.
As a project manager, here are some tips for encouraging togetherness on a project:
1. Build a buddy system. Have two or more team members together to support each other, provide back-up for each other or to bounce ideas off each other.
2. Create cohesiveness. Conduct a SWOT analysis that looks at the team’s strengths (S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O), and threats (T) and identify how each team member can plan for risk mitigation.
3. Highlight milestone and deadline dates as a team. Encourage team members to step up and help another team member whose due date is at risk and ask how the team can work together to make sure this date is met.
Nourishment is defined as something that nourishes; food, nutriment or sustenance. During the holidays we think of all off the things that give us nourishment of the soul. From sitting down and sharing a meal with our loved ones or sitting around a fire or holiday tree and sharing good conversation with family, there are many ways that we can promote growth by sharing things that bring us satisfaction.
At work, nourishment is achieved when new knowledge is fed to us to grow and learn. We also receive nourishment from our managers when we gain feedback about how we are doing on a particular job or project. The insight helps us strive to be better at what we do each day. Nourishment is attained when we allow ourselves to take on more responsibility and step outside our comfort zone.
As a project manager, here are some tips for providing nourishment on a project:
1. Share knowledge at the beginning of the development of the team. Have one team member at each meeting (rotate each time) present information about their role and how it is connected to the goal of the project or have team members each present to the other team members a team tool or method to improve productivity.
2. Rotate team roles. Let each team member take a turn at playing each role on the team (facilitator, time keeper, recorder, etc.).
3. Rate the team’s performance at the end of a team meeting. Rate the performance on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest (risks reported, meeting finish on time, follow-ups completed, etc.), and discuss reasons for low and high ratings to help improve performance.
Giving is defined as, “freely transferring the possession of (something) to (someone); handing over to.” During the holidays, giving comes in many forms, such as gift-giving, giving to charity or volunteering your time. The most important nicety about giving is that it is intended to be done without expecting anything in return and it can make us feel good about showing another person that we’re thinking about them.
At work, giving can take many similar forms. You can give your time or attention to a client or colleague who needs your help or if you’re in a leadership position, you can give opportunities to those you supervise or manage.
As a project manager, here are some tips for being a giving leader on a project:
1. Give your time. Participate in teamwork and group initiatives, like brainstorming and problem-solving. Be willing to offer ideas and suggestions and provide helpful feedback.
2. Give your attention. Be present and mindful of the help or guidance fellow team members or clients may need from you.
3. Give opportunities. Offer the chance for team members to grow both personally and professionally.
Reflection is defined as, “consideration of some subject matter, idea or purpose.” During the holidays, reflection is a common practice. Many people reflect back on the previous year – or previous holidays, sharing memories with loved ones and remembering those that are no longer here.
At work, reflection can mean learning, not only from mistakes made, but also the successes that have been made as well.
As a project manager, here are some tips for reflection during a project:
1. Reflect on how barriers can be removed. Reflect not how certain deliverables cannot meet milestones or deadlines, but on how we can remove the barriers to bring the timelines in sooner.
2. Reflect after risk has been mitigated. Reflect each time a risk is mitigated to assess whether the mitigations were effective or not.
3. Reflect by identifying lessons learned. Learn from successes and failures by documenting lessons learned and ensure that all team members are aligned with lessons without demotivating the team.
The holidays can mean different things for different people, but whether they are more somber or festive, there are positive feelings that are attributed overall to the holidays. Although they come once a year, the love, togetherness, nourishment, giving and reflection don’t have to be limited just at the holidays – they can be something we do all year around – in both our personal and professional lives. Just think what a better work environment (and world) it would be to incorporate the holiday spirit – all year around. Sounds like a good plan to me…what do you think?