Yes, you can

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Throughout this festive season, the smallest of gestures can go a long way. However, if you’ve never shown any interest in building a relationship with employees that goes beyond the call of duty, they might not feel like this is a genuine interest. So be careful that your holiday celebrations reflect your established company culture.

Start in January

Know your employees. Even if you have the best of intentions, it’s important that they generate the right reactions.  In order to get a positive reaction towards gifts, you need to establish relationships with your employees early on in the year.

To get connected and stay connected, walk around and talk to your team. Work alongside them, ask questions, and be there to help when needed.

Let me share some benefits of Managing by Walking Around (MBWA)

  • Approachability – When your employees see you as a person and not just a boss, they’ll be more likely to tell you what’s going on. You’ll get the chance to learn about issues before they become problems.
  • Trust – As your team gets to know you better, they’ll trust you more. You’ll be naturally inclined to share more information, and that will break down barriers to communication.
  • Business knowledge – Getting out and learning what’s happening on a daily basis can give you a better understanding of the functions and processes around you.
  • Accountability – When you interact daily with your team, agreements you make with each other are much more likely to be completed. Everyone is more motivated to follow through, because you’re seeing each other on a regular basis.
  • Morale – People often feel better about their jobs and their organization when they have opportunities to be heard. MBWA makes those opportunities available.
  • Productivity – Many creative ideas come from casual exchanges. MBWA promotes casual discussions, so people will more likely feel free to come to you with their ideas.


In a recent article, the following articles were listed as “don’ts” to be gifted to your employees:

  • Lingerie;
  • Self-help books or “How to do your job”;
  • Toiletries or beauty products;
  • “Personalized” letter with the wrong name;
  • Pamphlets on “How to lose weight” or “Join another religion”;
  • A gift certificate that bounces;
  • Nothing;
  • A small box of cookies for the whole team;
  • A 10% meal discount at a restaurant for the Sales agent who brought in half the revenues for that year;
  • A 24h extra shift;
  • A day off but not on Christmas or New Year’s Eve.

Be creative

Skill set is often the challenge to creating a culture of innovation.  Leaders must have the skills to listen, draw people out and think about things before they start adding or changing. Most importantly, leaders must own the change themselves; only then can innovation become much more widespread.

The same skills are useful for learning in a multicultural environment. However, they’ll be used differently across cultures. For example, a client of mine originally from Thailand will not say, “I need this to be done,” but rather, “it would be nice to do this.” Therefore, if you don’t know this cultural trait, you won’t understand the request. In today’s world, it’s essential to learn about different cultures in order to manage them right and ensure they are engaged in the change, as opposed to being perceived as obstacles.

With a new year upon us, start building relationships with your employees now. Treat them well throughout the year and have a reward program in place.  Foster a culture of collaboration and open communication. By doing that, you will spend much less time wondering about what to get them for the holidays and your employees will receive a gift they will cherish forever.



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