It’s the Gift That Counts?

I saw an advert in one of the local shops over Christmas. It read, ‘It’s the gift that counts’. And I thought not now, surely?

All year round, every advert screams at us: ‘It’s the gift that counts.’
It’s the outward show that matters. It’s the latest model, it’s what people see, it’s the ‘look’. But, surely, at Christmas time at least, we can break from that for a moment, and recognise that what goes in is often more important than the result we achieve.

Much of our year is spent setting goals, chasing outcomes, reaching targets. Can we stop for a moment and acknowledge that inputs usually have a more lasting effect than outcomes? What sales person, for whom targets are everything, wouldn’t agree that taking time to build relationships is just as critical as closing deals. Without the relationship, there would be no deal.

Relationships with staff are just as critical. If we want our employees to do more than just their job description, if we want them to show passion and take pride in what they do, we have to engage with them and build those relationships, too.

A manager looks out of his window and sees staff sitting, waiting. A machine has broken and they are waiting for a part. ‘But they could get on with that over there, meanwhile. What’s wrong with them.’

Did the manager ever tell them? He didn’t, but you’d think they would know, wouldn’t you? But when people have been told what to do all their lives, and are shouted at for the slightest thing they do wrong, why should they risk taking the initiative and being shouted at again. They are not lazy; they are simply waiting to be told what to do.

Do you want people to take the initiative, to begin making decisions? It’s not going to happen unless you create the space, give permission and teach them how. There are going to be mistakes. If you cannot tolerate mistakes, then don’t expect your staff to take risks. If your tolerance is limited, then set the boundaries, but open the doors to participation, engagement and initiative. It has to start with you.

It’s the time and attention that goes into our relationships that will make the difference.

How will you engage differently with staff, customers, family and friends in 2017?

Wishing you and yours a healthy, happy and prosperous 2017.

Ian Webster

From Methodist minister to Customer Relations manager in a computer bureau to HR Manager in a newspaper printing and publishing company. Now focussing on training and developing people and HR & people-management consulting.

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