Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngSo, what kind of boss are you during the holiday season? It is kind of amazing how many perfectly decent small business owners begin to let the stress of the holidays get to them. This is especially true in retail. Feeling the pressures of increased opportunity (and competition) can cause some bosses to go from nice to naughty.


I am reminded of a story of a restaurant that had about 6 waitresses on staff. Throughout the year, the boss was a nice enough fellow, but come November 1st one year, he went all Scrooge on them. Instead of hiring extra wait staff to handle the increase in traffic, he instead made his crew work increased hours. Days off were curtailed and overtime became the norm. His employees were not happy campers. People (aka your employees!) like to partake in holiday cheer, buy gifts, go to parties, and enjoy their families. But this bad boss didn’t appreciate that.


Instead, he decided that the restaurant would stay open on Thanksgiving and everyone had to either work or be on call. Tensions grew. And then, when he decided at the last minute to stay open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, all heck broke loose.


His entire staff quit.


Yes, of course that is an extreme example, but it is a good reminder that this is a special season that can put a lot of  stress on a business.


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So let’s do business the right way.

1. Set expectations:
There is nothing wrong with being open extra hours during the season if that helps you capture more business. The thing though is to make sure you communicate your expectations with your team, and keep them realistic.


2. Get the help you need: I bet our restaurant owner could have had his eggnog and eaten it too. His mistake was not setting expectations earlier and then overworking his crew without any consideration for their holiday plans. Undoubtedly, he could have found people who would have been happy to work holiday days, as long as he paid them appropriately.


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Get the help you need. Staff accordingly. In fact, you not only want to account for the additional hours your business will be open, but
you also want to adjust for the fact that your people will want extra time off so that they can attend to their own holiday shopping, make it to the school pageant, etc.


3. Remember, a little recognition goes a long way: According to the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, 85 percent of those small business surveyed said that they planned on offering holiday perks this year. It’s a “best practice” that you should strongly consider too. According to the survey, the post popular of these perks are

  • Bonuses (49%)
  • Holiday party (43%)
  • Flex hours / time off (38%)
  • Gifts (41%)
  • Closing for the holidays (35%)


Employees love to be recognized for a job well done, and you earn their respect, gratitude, and loyalty when you show your appreciation.


4. Don’t burn out:
It does little good if you spend all of this effort getting your business ready, making your customers happy, and letting your staff know you value them if you don’t take care of yourself as well.


The holidays are a fun time. Close early, play hooky and go get some shopping in. Take the kids out to a matinee while they are home from school or head to the gym and get an extra workout in to offset all of those yummy treats you will be having.

Bottom line: This holiday season, the important thing is to remember to be sure to be a good boss to your staff  . . . and yourself.


How have you prepared your business for the holiday season in the past? Share your story below.


About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.


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