Not to boast, but I oversee a massive toy manufacturing and distribution organization.
years, we’ve branched out into all kinds of goods and services, all
designed to provide the good cheer and spirit of giving that’s
associated with the holiday season.
aforementioned spirit of giving, I’d like to offer readers a few
insights I’ve gained over the X number of years I’ve been doing this.
Here are some key elements, in no particular order:
doesn’t mean you should resist change or innovative ideas; they’re
absolutely necessary as times change. However, stay consistent about key
element of your business and culture. For example, sure, I’d like to
kick back in Hawaii or maybe the Florida Keys starting on the winter
solstice, but we’ve built our reputation delivering all those toys and
goodies on Christmas Eve, so that’s what we’ll keep doing.
Our customers count on us, and that same reliability means a lot within our organizational culture.
Emphasize work/life balance.
OK, this is
obviously pretty easy for me, because my home is part of our physical
campus. So, I work from home all the time—when I’m not traveling, of
course. (One night a year—big deal!)
important though, that your associates know you value their whole
selves, including family and other outside aspects of their lives. That
understanding will bolster their commitment to you and your
Commit to diversity.
ago, we were an all-elf concern. I’m not especially proud of that, but
at the time the available labor pool was predominantly elfin. Over
time—and with marvelous success, I must say—we’ve added sprites, pixies,
gnomes, fairies, wood nymphs, and hobbits (with proper visas, of
gotten surprisingly interesting contributions, too, from imps and
gremlins. Managed properly, these ultra-creative types offer some
fascinating, “outside the box” concepts. (Pardon the jargon.)
Strive for perfection, but don’t obsess.
I make a list; I check it twice. Period. It’s a diligent check, both times, but then I let it go and move on.
Document personnel issues.
up my previous point, the issue of “who’s naughty and nice” extends to
your staff, of course, but it could be seen as highly subjective. Keep
written records of significant events, just in case.
Delegate, delegate, delegate.
there are so many “Santa’s helpers” (or, as I call them, subordinate
Clauses)? Because there’s a lot of stuff to do, and frankly, there’s
quite a bit of redundancy inherent in what we do. A child we’ll call
“Dale” wants a bike for Christmas. We get Dale’s same request many times
over, and in multiple formats: wishes, hopes, letters, visions of
sugarplums (or whatever), requests to Mom and Dad (forwarded to me),
requests to mall Santas, and so on.
Beyond that, you should see my inbox. Now I’m even getting text messages, which baffles me, because I do not give out my cell phone number. (I’m looking into that, believe me.)
Plan thoroughly, but stay flexible.
We have an
established itinerary on Christmas Eve; we’ve been at this a long time.
But we all know how tricky winter weather can be (during the Northern
Hemisphere schlep), so we have contingency plans. Squirrel nests in
chimneys can slow down the process, too. I don’t like making time stop
any longer than I have to.
to keeping up to date with technology (in the gifts we deliver and in
the tools we provide our staff), we make sure we have state-of-the-art
sleighs. (Yes, several; when I’m done unloading one, the next, fully
loaded, is there on the next rooftop. As I said, we’ve been at this a
Stress the importance of continued learning.
have expanded our stable of reindeer. The established pairs—Donner and
Blitzen, Dancer and Prancer, and so on—work together training and
mentoring the newbies. We have some promising young reindeer in our
ranks, and they deserve a special mention: Flaxen, Snowy, Rusty, Cygnet,
Yappy, and Sheldon.
Be diligent about harassment and bullying.
reindeer, we all remember that unfortunate incident with Rudolph. (The
PR fallout from that was brutal; it would have faded by now, if not for
that awful song. But I digress.) At the first sign of anything even
resembling this sort of inappropriate behavior or interaction, put your
specifically to the parties involved that further incidents will result
in disciplinary action, possibly including dismissal. Then remind the
staff at large that such behavior is unacceptable and runs counter to
your mission and to morale and your culture overall.
Emphasize satisfaction in a job well done.
essential for your staffers. A sense of purpose and recognition that
their efforts really matter will manifest itself in a cohesive culture
and in excellence in what you do and make, as well as keeping motivation
high when the doldrums might otherwise set in.
That’s it for now. Happy holidays to all, and to all a good night!