By Jamy Sullivan, executive director of the legal practice for Robert Half
The end of the year comes with a lot of hustle and bustle, but hopefully you also manage to get enveloped and enchanted by the holiday spirit through it all. There may be critical projects to wrap up before you can take time off to spend with friends and family. Many employees have end-of-year reviews to go through (and administer, if you’re a manager). Growth strategies for the coming year (for either your career or your business) may need to be tweaked.
I’d like to provide you with a few tips for how to make the most of this hectic-but-cheery time of year. From preparing for your performance review to giving back to your community and celebrating the holidays with your team, remotely or in person, you can cap off another year with promise and purpose.
For employees: Make the most of your performance review
Your end-of-year review should be a two-way conversation, meaning that both you and your manager should be active participants. Take time to organize the points you want to discuss, and do the following to prepare:
1. Examine your performance from the last year — and find ways to improve on it.
a. Be prepared to discuss your significant accomplishments and contributions to your team and the company as a whole. Be very specific in your examples.
b. Express areas of opportunity for your career. Highlight any training you have completed, and research and request new training that would help with ongoing development.
2. Solicit feedback from your colleagues. It can be very impactful for your manager to see that you not only prepared your thoughts, but also obtained direct input from your team members.
3. Look at any changes that have impacted you over the last year, for the better and those that challenged you. Areas to focus on include:
a. Your work-life balance
b. Remote or hybrid working conditions
c. New skills you gained during the past year
4. Be prepared to discuss goals and aspirations. What is it you’re looking for next in your career? Perhaps a promotion and/or an increase in salary? What can your manager do to help get you there? Have some ideas ready to facilitate a productive conversation.
5. Speaking of salary, research market data for salary and bonus trends, as well as in-demand skills. The 2022 Salary Guide From Robert Half is a good resource for this. At a minimum, you’ll be prepared to negotiate if compensation is discussed. You may also uncover new paths to the next step in your career.
For managers: Combine employee recognition and holiday giving
It’s critical for managers to recognize employees throughout the year to maintain morale and retain valued employees — and it’s even more important at the end of the year. Health and safety are top priorities for employers, so in-person holiday get-togethers are unlikely at many companies. Candidly, that might not be how employees are looking to be rewarded at year’s end, but some alternative ways to recognize your team can help make up for it until you’re able to celebrate in person:
1. Giving back to your community — This is one of my personal favorites. Having your team vote on a local charity they would like to give to during the holidays is a great team builder, whether everyone participates in-person or virtually. You can set up virtual wish lists of items that your local charity needs or create an online donation portal. One thing Robert Half does that many enjoy is “walking happy hours,” where employees promote wellness while earning a donation for a qualifying charity for every hour they walk.
2. Fun virtual team events — Host an ugly holiday sweater contest, gingerbread house decorating, and virtual cooking events to learn about traditional holiday foods for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Those are a few ideas that I’ve seen bring teams together in a fulfilling way.
3. Early closing — Close operations early for a holiday. This is one that just about everyone loves.
That last one resonates with me as the “gift of time.” Many employees experience burnout and haven’t been able to take time away from work to spend with their families or focus on wellness for themselves. If you can truly take the step to provide your employees time off — and encourage them to turn off the computer and not check email or be on-call — you’ll show how much you appreciate all the efforts they put in this year.
For all: The future is bright
Year-end goals should include planning for kickoff meetings with your team to start the new year. For managers and staff alike, these meetings are a great opportunity to set the tone for Q1. What do you plan to accomplish? How do you plan to accomplish it?
Whether you’re running the meeting or are an attendee, planning for it now helps you reflect on what you and your team have accomplished together this past year — and will allow you to fully step away from work for the holidays to recharge without thinking about work. No matter your role in your organization, recharging is an element that none of us can take for granted. Everyone is better off when you come back to work refreshed with renewed focus, helping the entire team start the new year strong.
I wish you all a very happy and healthy holiday season with the hope you can relax and recharge for what the new year will bring.
Jamy Sullivan is executive director of the legal practice at Robert Half, a premier talent solutions firm. An author and speaker on legal employment and practice management topics, she began her career with Robert Half in 2002 as an account executive in Columbus, Ohio. Over the years, she has held various management positions within the company and received recognition for serving on project committees, mentoring internal employees and her leadership performance. Sullivan, who is based in Dallas, became executive director in 2016 and manages operations for the legal practice in North America.