Giving at the Office

Got your holiday shopping done yet? That’s a common question at this time of year and one that usually causes my eyes to roll up in my head.  Like many people, I’m prone to procrastination.  As well, something in me resents commercially driven pressure to max out my credit card.

Eventually though, I manage to rise to the occasion long enough to consider and buy things meant to delight my loved ones and please my friends.  After all, it is not the gift itself that is the reward.  It is the happiness element that comes with it that makes gift -giving so much fun.

I like the idea of happiness being the real gift and I think it translates well too, when it comes to exchanging gifts at work.  Of course, it is always a little more challenging to give meaningful gifts to people at work, but here are a few ideas to consider.  They cost nothing. They can have lasting effects.  And, to the best of my knowledge, they aren’t fattening.

The Gift of Attention

Give a few minutes of your undivided attention to each of the people you lead, each day.

That means spending the time listening, being curious about their interests, thoughts and opinions and suspending judgment long enough to learn something about them that you might otherwise miss.

The Gift of Inclusion

Take a little time to remind those you lead, why you come to work everyday.  Give them the big picture (even if you’ve done it before) and show them how they fit into it as individuals.  Yes, I know, it’s the old vision thing again. But, believe me, when people can see where they are going and that there is a place for them on the proverbial bus, that creates some happiness.

The Gift of Challenge

Consider those you lead and give each a challenge for the New Year that will allow them to stretch, grow, and learn more about themselves and what they can do.

I hazard to say that everyone likes a challenge.  It gets the juices flowing and allows us to test our boundaries. Giving the gift of challenge suggests faith in each person’s capability and potential.  And, its value is that much greater at times when the individual doubts or fears his or her own possibilities.

The Gift of Encouragement

Of course challenge on its own can become onerous if not accompanied by encouragement and the support that goes with it.  So, with each gift of challenge, include whatever each person might need to accomplish it, including resources, education, training or a friendly ear.  That will ensure the highest possible opportunity for success and resulting happiness.

The Gift of Truth

Find ways to convey to those you lead that you will always be straight with them no matter what the circumstances.  And then make sure you follow through.

Leaders who are truthful, both in good times and bad also give the gift of useful information.  Useful information allows people to make good decisions for themselves.  Being Truthful with them acknowledges their capability to respond as adults.   It is respectful.  And, even if the news is not good, it gives them their best opportunity to work through it and find satisfying resolutions.

The Gift of Graciously Receiving

It is more often the case that we learn to give (and know the satisfaction of doing so) much before we learn the importance of receiving with grace.   Part of the pleasure of giving lies in experiencing the response of the receiver. So many of us are hard-wired to discount the value of gifts we are given by suggesting we don’t deserve them or worse, don’t want them.   For instance, at work, being gracious when you receive feedback, offers of help or another perspective is important.  You don’t always have to agree but  you owe it to yourself, and to the giver, to be thoughtful and kind in your response.

That’s what I think anyway.  What do you think?  What gifts would you add?



Filed under Building Relationships, Employee engagement, Leadership, Organizational Effectiveness

6 responses to “Giving at the Office

  1. I agree. It is funny, I do see managers worrying about which fruit basket to give their employees, when they are craving some focused attention and career development

  2. Pingback: Giving at the Office | Spark The Action |

  3. Gwyn,

    Couldn’t agree more with you and Karin (Let’s Grow Leaders) – people are too constrained by what a “gift” is. I wrote about this last week – there are all sorts of ways to “give at the office” and the best gifts have absolutely no price tag.

  4. Gwyn Teatro

    Karin and Jennifer ~ Yes! Fruit baskets or their equivalents are easy, if expensive. In my experience they are also often purchased by someone other than the presenter, someone who endures the burden of the shopping trip without receiving the pleasure of the giving. In the long run, lack of proper attention to people usually proves to be more expensive than even the most opulent of fruit baskets.
    Thank you both for reinforcing that message.

  5. How well said! These are gifts you can give at any time of the year, and they provide lasting impact on the recipients. Thank you for giving us the reminder.

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