Some of the biggest monsters and cold-hearted executive sharks still soften up around the holiday season, so not taking advantage of their vulnerability isn’t very smart. I would like to share some ideas on making Christmas work for you.
Identify your targets
It’s the end of the year and a perfect time to reassess your game. Look at the org chart of your IT department and review all the players… who is helping you with your agenda and who stands in your way? With Christmas treats you want to encourage your supporters and bring your enemies closer. In other words, identify your targets and figure out how to make each of them feel special. After that, group your targets by rank and importance and figure out how to provide them with appropriate Christmas TLC.
Managing down is equally important as managing up, so don’t forget you team! People work harder if they feel appreciated. The best strategy is to pick a useful gift that everyone would like but include a note that recognizes them for something in particular. You can give everyone a coffee shop gift card, but an enclosed holiday card that says “Thank you for your killer dashboards!” personalizes your gift and gives that particular person the attention that goes a long way.
Depending on your office culture you may be able to get your guys some absolutely ridiculous off-color gifts and cards, however it is important to remember that this isn’t about you (and how witty you are). Make this about acknowledging each of them for their individual contributions.
Peers, counterparts and other enemies
This is where it gets tricky. There are players at your level who are perfectly pleasant, but have no direct effect on your career. Sure you can cross them off your Christmas list, however these people may quickly turn into enemies, if while playing Santa with others, you make them feel left out. When giving Christmas gifts to peers and counterparts, you must not only pick the right people, you must pick the right time. Don’t make a big deal out it, just stop by their office/cube after hours and hand them something like a new phone charger (if they always borrow yours) and say: “Merry Christmas!” Little gestures like this will strengthen your relationships with your supporters and disarm your enemies (even if only temporary).
This is easier than you think. Climbing the corporate ladder often takes so much time and effort that some of the most successful leaders in your organization may be the loneliest in real life. Disconnected from their family, hated by their spouses or abandoned by their kids, they may be the most vulnerable during the holidays. Don’t miss the opportunity to become the “golden child”. Don’t make your brownnosing very obvious, keep your gift fairly inexpensive but thoughtful. Keep it classy, don’t get too personal, no ties or lingerie! For your direct and dotted line bosses best gifts are popular books or alcohol. I recommend a nice Cab if they are into wine or a great bottle of whiskey. If they aren’t a drinker pick up the latest book by their favorite author. If your target recipient is also your mentor, include a note acknowledging their input in your development. Such recognition from you will encourage more mentoring and support.
Although we like to think that work decisions are controlled by facts and logic, emotions play a huge role in them as well, since the decision-makers are human. Warm them all up this holiday season so that you can have them eating out of your hand in 2013.
Happy Holidays from the Queen of Staffing!