Your employees have worked hard all year and, hopefully, demonstrated an excellent work ethic. Now, the holiday season is here -- carols play throughout the stores, flickering lights hang, and parties are being planned.

Amongst all the festivities, leaders have a new type of responsibility to uphold. They must keep in mind their employees, as valued members of their business, deserve reciprocity and acknowledgement, all the while doing a great job to satisfy your customers.

The holiday season does not mean the work is over. Success is contingent upon your employee's determination, focus, and professionalism during the holiday rush. Events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday can deliver you profits that could make your year worthwhile -- but you'll have to work for it.

Here's how to focus on both employee happiness as well as achieving your financial targets. 

1. Don't stretch yourself, or your employees, too thin.

This time of year adds stress and tension due to the demanding nature of operations and customer demand, but also because of time constraints. Be realistic and understand what your team can and cannot do -- and help them focus on the key priorities and avoid becoming distracted. Stay close to your employees and help them navigate unanticipated issues and problems -- as they are happening.  

2. Set a clear cut schedule around days off.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years -- lots of days out of the office are coming, which means many days that productivity may deteriorate. While you may not get as much work accomplished as other times of the year, you can still plan accordingly. Many leaders tend to discourage PTO usage during this time because of the limited amount of work time already available, as long as they give their employees enough notice in advance of the expectation.

3. Don't let stress turn you into a grinch.

Successful leaders have strong emotional intelligence and they should be able to gauge their own behavior towards the team. If the stress of the holiday season is making you unknowingly become hostile, take a step back, collect your thoughts and realize the potential impact of your actions. Try to be fully aware of how you are behaving, and check in with some of your employees to make sure you are supporting them.

4. Praise accomplishments from the year's past.

It's really important to be positive and motivating for your employees. Keep messages simple, short and positive. Like a great coach in sports, encourage your team and let them know you believe they can do it.

Gather up the positives and offer public praise for the great achievement accomplished throughout the year. You can find many opportunities to communicate these messages -- at team meetings, at the end of a particularly stressful shift, and of course at the holiday lunch or party.

5. Give back.

Businesses need to give back to their community and make a difference, apart from making a profit. Whether you participate with a large organization such as Habitat for Humanity or help at a local soup kitchen, leaders should create space in their busy schedule and participate alongside their employees. This improves camaraderie, communication, and gets you much closer with your people. 

6. Lead by example.

While having good intentions, many employees get lost in the holiday hype and pressure and start to slack off in their work. Leaders can help stop this simply by modeling the right behavior. Maintain your same high level of work ethic and your employees will follow. suit. Pitching in and helping employees with their own workloads helps. I know many CEOs who go down to the production floor and help their employees fulfill orders every Black Friday, and their teams love them.

7. Don't forget bonuses.

And of course, where appropriate and possible, it's great to provide some additional consideration to employees at year end. From my experience, it is more about the gesture and thought than it is about the amount. This token of acknowledgement goes a long way.

Successfully leading your team during the holidays is critical to make your targets. These seven strategies will help you not only deliver a great end-of-year working experience for your employees but also increase the likelihood of having a successful performance in 2018.  

Published on: Nov 15, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.