By Matt Doyle, vice president and co-founder of Excel Builders.
Winter is coming, and in some parts of the U.S. (my little northeastern corner in particular) that means darker days, colder weather and a very different attitude around the office. Year after year, it always frustrates me to see our enthusiastic energy begin to wane as winter rolls around.
I've tried many different ways of fighting the winter blues, including some that were so gimmicky I'd feel silly mentioning them here. In that same vein, though, I learned a lot about what did work to get my employees to operate at their best in a time when they usually have trouble finding their normal drive.
I've come away with a new perspective on this season, and how to work effectively when the mood changes. Try these three tips to help your employees beat (or at least make the best of) the winter blues.
Use This Time to Reflect
Don't try to fight back against the colder season by turning up the office music or trying to preserve the energy of summer with gimmicky parties. Instead, play to strengths of the darker days.
Take advantage of the calmer energies people typically have in winter by assigning projects that rely on reflection and sober thought: This could involve items like long-term planning, preparations for new legal compliance or reassessing your office lease.
Winter is the time to think seriously about what you will be doing in the next year and prepare accordingly. It's also a good time to take a look at what's working (and not working) in your processes. By the time spring rolls around, everything is mapped out and you're ready to move.
Harness Seasonal Goodwill for Conflict Resolution
The winter season, when spiked with a dose of holiday cheer, is a great time to address any lingering conflict or tension amongst employees. People are more willing to forgive and overlook past issues this time of year, and it's not often a time when conflicts tend to flare up.
If I know two employees are having problems, I try to pair them up to work together on projects we're handling during the winter. This can result (in the best case) in a quasi soft-reset of the way these two employees both look at and think about each other.
In my experience alone, I have seen winter partnerships turn tense competitive relationships into friendlier ones.
Add Coffee to the Mix
I've tried hard to keep gimmicks off this list, so I haven't recommended tiki parties or converting the break room into a makeshift beach. However, one affordable seasonal gimmick is worth noting: free coffee.
If you want to see some enthusiasm in a gloomy office, consider purchasing a new coffee machine for the team to enjoy. This could be coupled with a winter selection of boutique roasts from local coffee shops, as I like to do for my team. A constant supply of great warm drinks in the office really makes a difference.
Always Look for the Advantage
Using disadvantages -- such as moody winter blues -- to help people to reach a higher potential is one goal that should always be on an entrepreneur's mind. This winter, try to do better work by matching your flow to the season, helping your employees get along and make the most of it, and creating the little moments of satisfaction that they need.
After that, think about all the other ways that you could turn frustration around by adapting to it instead of trying to fight it. I, for one, know that there are hundreds of ways I could be doing better at leading my people and serving my customers. You can bet I'll be thinking a lot about that this winter.
Matt Doyle is the vice president and co-founder of Excel Builders, a revolutionary company in the construction industry that builds next-generation custom homes.