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Picking Your Presents Makes You A Better Manager

December 24, 2014

My daughter was having a conversation with her new husband about Christmas lists.

What are you doing?

Making a Christmas list.

What is a Christmas list?

It’s a list of gifts I would like to get for Christmas.

That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of.

As she said, a Christmas list is a list of gifts that you want. Our family does the same thing for birthdays. It’s a plan that works well and you should adopt it for work.

I don’t mean ask people you work with what they want for Christmas. I mean that you should have them make a work list. In fact there are several that people can make.

What Do You Want Out Of This Job?

Wouldn’t it be great to know exactly what your boss expects of you? To not have to guess what the last random email was about?


If you don’t ask, don’t be surprised when you don’t get an answer. I talked about this in some length in Bring Me A Rock.

What Do You Need To Be Successful?

We are a very adaptive species. We figure out how to make do. And lots of employees are quite accomplished at speaking up when they need something. But, not all are. I’ve had jobs where I assumed there was no travel budget, for example. Turns out there was budget but no one typically used it.

In my current role, I asked for a office supplies when I first started. Turns out that office supplies were difficult to get. I ended up taking a bunch from home.

My son-in-law doesn’t understand Christmas lists at all. A Christmas list doesn’t mean you expect to get everything on your list. It’s simply a list of suggestions.

We also draw names in our family. My name might have been drawn by a 12 year old, a teenager or even my wife. My list reflects that. It includes things like a homemade apple pie. . . something that anyone could do, as well as a karaoke machine. . . something that my wife or an older kid might get me. It also includes a range of gifts in between. There are service gifts like a car wash, or homecooked meal, to accommodate kids who might have more time than money.

In addition to knowing that I will get something that I would want, Christmas lists ensure that I know how to shop for a 13 year old girl, or a 15 year old boy, or most importantly, my spouse.

Christmas lists are valuable, and are something you should consider for your employees.

Merry Christmas.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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