Gifts and Performance Leaps

How would it affect performance and satisfaction if everyone gave themselves a gift this year?

I recently wrote about “tidying up” our  HR to-do lists before the end of the year. I’d like to extend that thought today to the entire organization in a way that, if implemented, could cause a “quantum leap” in performance.

The Power of One

Even the most determined among us tend to get discouraged or overwhelmed when our “to-do” list gets too long. (I remember being a young HR person so overwhelmed with paperwork that I could measure the stack on my desk in feet rather than items!). But what if we had only one task for the rest of the year?

Of course, I’m not suggesting that we put aside all of our responsibilities and focus solely on this one thing (at which point we could expect to be unceremoniously added to the nation’s dismal unemployment numbers). Rather, what if we took our day-to-day tasks as a given, but then identified one thing that would really make a difference in our work lives (maybe our personal lives, too), and in the life of the organization, and then did that one thing?

The Manager’s Speech

What if when you walked into the office on Monday morning (heartfelt apologies to all those working in retail this Thanksgiving weekend), your manager called everyone together and said something like this:

“Welcome back, everyone. I hope that you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend of family, feasts, relaxation … and maybe a little shopping, too. Shopping — or, more exactly, gift-giving — is what I wanted to talk with you about today. Before we dash headlong into our holiday and end-of-work-year responsibilities, I wanted to ask you to think about giving yourself a gift. Actually, it would be a gift to yourself, to your co-workers, to the company, and to our customers.

I know that there’s probably one thing that keeps getting shoved to the bottom of our priority lists that nags at us — and that if we did it, we would feel a lot better. Things like …

… having a heart-to-heart talk with the co-worker who offended us six months ago and who we’ve been working around and trying to avoid since then

… “forgiving” the client who seems to complain about every little thing and whose e-mails and calls we return more slowly and less eagerly than others

… gathering up the courage to ask permission to attend the training course that seems scary but which you know will take your skills — and your career — to the next level (which your spouse/mother/brother/friend has been nudging you about for months)

… or, just taking an hour or two to attend to your own needs — cleaning up your files, deleting old e-mails, catching up on the stack of industry magazines that you think probably contain some neat suggestions to help your work, if you only had the time to read them.

Do yourself — and the organization — a great favor by taking the time to do just one of those things before the end of the year. It might be the best gift you’ve ever given — or received — at work.”


If everyone (or even most people) at your organization took up this challenge, what would it do to:

performance (removing internal roadblocks and resentments)

customer service (turning a “problem client” into a fiercely loyal one)

morale (“I know I’m progressing in my career now”)

enthusiasm and satisfaction (“I’m actually organized enough to do my job in 40 hours instead of being scattered and run-down for 50 hours”)

Wouldn’t that be a great speech to give … and to listen to?

Happy Thanksgiving — and soon, happy holidays — to all!

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