As an Australian who has relocated to New Zealand for lifestyle reasons, the lovely Carol Howard is someone used to swimming against the tide and doing the opposite of everyone else. Carol is an organisational culture, change and communications leader with many years of global experience in the IT industry and corporate sector. She moved to NZ three years ago and loves it here. And she’s much more cheerful than her blog post may lead you to believe. You’ll find her on Twitter regularly chatting away as @blackbirdsthree.
How to Ditch Xmas Blah at Your Workplace
When it comes to Xmas I’m a self-confessed Grinch. An Ebenezer Scrooge prior to his enlightenment. It’s something about being force-fed all the way-too-perky, far-too-glittery Xmas advertising. Or something. Don’t get me started on the television re-runs of the interminable “Love Actually”.
It doesn’t help that I’m rubbish at gift-wrapping. Give me 10 minutes to wrap a tiny, neat, square object and you’ll get back an unholy mess that looks like a fight to the death between a bagpipe, five kilos of Sellotape and a Santa or two.
Kind of reminiscent of how many vision statements turn out. (By the way, do people seriously still write missions statements?)
Anyway. It’s only an undying love for mince pies and Xmas drinks that gets me through the season. And the sincere hope that I’ll successfully avoid awful team building activities at a work Xmas party.
But it’s not all doom and gloom on my part. Really it isn’t. Just because I’m an Xmas sceptic doesn’t mean I don’t have an Xmas wish list. I do.
I’d like to see companies celebrating success all the time. And giving back to the communities they operate in. I’m also hankering to see work environments that give people more freedom. And where dissent and discussion are both invited and expected.
And while I don’t believe in Santa, I do believe in the fabulous people brimming with smart, practical ideas to make work a better place. And who challenge the status quo with curiosity, intelligence and good humour.
And that’s all you lot, kids.
Here’s How to Ban “Bah! Humbug!”
1. If you want to do Xmas team building volunteer to help a charity. Otherwise save your money and take your team to the pub or to the park. Frisbee optional.
2. Think carefully before risking an outbreak of “Secret Santa Stress Syndrome”. You’ll avoid boring break room conversations about how much over or under budget it’s really OK to go. Donate to good causes instead.
3. Want to give the gift that keeps on giving? Say thank you often. And in different ways. And not just at Xmas. It costs nothing. Rinse and repeat, all year long.
4. Stop sending clients hard copy Xmas cards. Email or e-cards are the way to go. Save the trees. Our birds need them. And frankly people do too.
5. Spend 10 minutes thinking about how you and your team could make a small but real difference this Xmas. And then do it. Need inspiration? Start here.
Give A Little (http://www.givealittle.co.nz)
Volunteering New Zealand (http://www.volunteeringnz.org.nz)
Oxfam Unwrapped (http://www.oxfamunwrapped.org.nz)
SPCA New Zealand (http://www.rnzspca.org.nz/index.php)
6. Finally, Xmas gifts can be cheap and cheerful. Which is why this post features cats as my own special Xmas tribute to Richard. Apparently, he likes them, lots.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
BERNARD STEVENSON, 1931-2014
Dedicated to my wonderful buddy who died at 83 years of age on 22 August 2014. You knew how to have a good time all year round. Thank you for making New Zealand home. And for your patience in teaching me how to pronounce “pohutukawa”.