17 Dec How to give the perfect gift to your staff this Christmas
With excited children and expectant partners thus begins the high stakes game of giving the right presents. For most of us, it’s a time to make the sweat run and the wallet burn as we desperately try to find those elusive last-minute gifts for people we ought to spend more quality time with.
So which type of present giver are you?:
- The one-click wonder: a quick flurry of the mouse on Amazon’s wish lists one month before Christmas and the job’s done in 20 minutes before you go back to posting cat pictures on Facebook
- Mrs “buy it yourself and I’ll send you the money”: Fairly self-explanatory low hassle view of gift buying. Also related to Mr “I’m a real man, I climb/run/cycle, and I’m too macho to do something as mundane as buying gifts”
- Money is no object: “Wow, check out this new piece of technology/kit/toy, they’ll love it (well actually I love it so perhaps they will too, and maybe they’ll let me borrow it for a while?) Sometimes accompanied by having no idea what someone wants so reasoning that if you spend a lot surely it’ll compensate
Well, you may or may not be one of these grossly simplified personalities but they all have one thing in common. They all entirely miss the selfless altruism of Christmas gifts: to give someone something that they really need to make their lives better, rather than choosing what’s most convenient for the giver.
The parallels with attempting to improve culture at any organisation should be obvious: we risk missing the point, even upsetting people, if we just go through the motions of handing over a thoughtless programme of organisational improvement to our staff if it doesn’t make conditions better for them, or directly address their needs.
The festive bin debacle
When we spend time with people we care about (whether it’s family members or our staff) we get to know them better. That puts us in a position to better address their needs. By seeing more of their day-to-day lives we grasp what would make their lives easier, and if we listen carefully we even get clues about how to solve their problems.
We begin this process of engagement with culture assessment in a work context, and done effectively it’s like having a sneak peak at someone’s personal letter to safety Santa.
Without such insight from building stronger relationships you get legendary incidents like when an unnamed family member of mine bought their beloved a bin for Christmas. That’s right, a bin, because it was from their favourite kitchen range:
“Here you go, I love you so much that I want you to spend more time than ever in the kitchen this year, and I’ve bought you this tastefully decorated waste receptacle to collect all the extra food bits that will be thrown away whilst you do the cooking”.
Is it any wonder why people get upset when we go through the same safety initiative version of the Christmas bin debacle every year? Probably not if we don’t spend an appropriate amount of time getting to know what really matters to the people we care about.
So in 2015 perhaps make a resolution to get out of your office more often. Talk to people on the front-line and ask the right questions which show a deeper concern for their well-being on their terms.
The gifts you get in return, like better safety, quality and more meaningful relationships are well worth the extra effort – certainly more rewarding than unwrapping a bin on Christmas morning.
You can find Mark Ormond on LinkedIn or read more about our engagement, safety and culture change services.