Making It Easy - A Few Thoughts Around This Festive Time Of Year

Current motivational theory tells us that not everyone is swayed by the same arguments, enticed by the same toys, or moved by the same emotions. 

Makes sense to me, since we display a dizzying array of attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, preferences, and values, to say nothing of our overall personalities. 

We are each unique, every one of us. As serious students of leadership, we try to remember this simple idea as we manage our operations and our people. 

"What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?"
~ George Eliot

We intentionally vary our programs for employee motivation, provide options for incentives and rewards, and generally try to play to the individual. This extends to our corporate holiday celebrations and practices, right?

Corporate Holiday Culture

In no particular order, here are some of my observations over the years about corporate holiday culture:

  • In some corporate offices, every possible religious observance of this time of year is visible. Inclusion rules, and creates a hodgepodge, where nothing stands out.
  • Employee celebrations occur where all are encouraged to attend, because Santa is not the only one keeping a list.
  • We choose corporate gifts with an eye to either reinforcing our brand or gifting all with the same exact thing, to avoid the messy emotions when some get this and others get that.
  • We get into complex discussions about how to greet others, trying to satisfy both our own needs and those of others who may not share the same detailed beliefs.
  • Either the work environment is completely frenetic (retail, hospitality, end of year deadlines) or pretty much non-productive, with many folks just marking time until they are off work for a few days or a few weeks.

Two Quick Observations & Discussion Starters

  1. The Group Is Important - Rituals are how we as individual members of a group mark our important times and thus they tend to be the same for everyone in the group. We bind to each other by sharing traditions, behaviors, dress, and sayings. Little in life can match the power of being part of a group, with everyone in sync, marching to the same beat, and in solidarity. We just need to remember that our group is not the group, but one of many groups, each with their own beliefs, behaviors, and values.
  2. The Individual Is Important - Even when everyone in a group, a department, or even a company shares the same general beliefs, behaviors, and values, we are still individuals. For example, not everyone enjoys a rousing and joyous holiday party. For some, this time of year is a time for quiet reflection on the year ending and the year to come. For some, this is even a time to remember and grieve. Some folks are just not into Christmas and forcing them to get into the spirit is not an appropriate goal.

Some Questions To Consider

With the above thoughts in mind, please consider the following questions:

  • How does your organization approach the holidays?
  • How do you as a leader make life easier for others at this time?
  • What of my observations and opinions do you disagree with and why?

On a personal note, I hope everyone's holiday season is all you desire it to be as we try to balance the us and me in the holiday spirit.