Be a great Xmas Boss – 8 tips


There’s one Christmas tradition that I insist on in my house. It’s for us all to sit together and watch Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation. I particularly love the part where big-hearted Cousin Eddie kidnaps Clarks boss after he secretly cancelled Christmas bonuses. Who hasn’t felt like doing that to their boss at one point? I’m sure many of you have, especially at this time of the year when we all expect a little bit of recognition for a year’s hard work.

If you’re a boss and want to avoid any potential Cousin Eddie situations, it will pay to spend some time thinking about how you are going to recognize and reward your staff.

Here are 8 key points to consider:

  1. You’re the boss; you earn the most money so don’t encourage people to buy you presents. If you hear of everyone chipping in, nicely put a stop to it. Knowing they truly respect you as a boss should be enough.
  2. Don’t get into a habit of handing out money as a Christmas Bonus. People will see this as a reward for performance, not a present. You may also be creating a precedent that people will expect a bonus each Christmas. See how that turned out for Clark. Keep performance bonuses for performance review time.
  3. Consumable goods are appreciated more than knick-knacks. To be honest, the excitement factor of receiving a mug or stationary set lasts about as long as it takes you to re-gift it to the relative you don’t like.
  4. Telling someone they can have a paid day off only works on people who have the guts to use it. Most employees will say great, but draw the line when it comes to walking into your office 2 months later saying ‘I’m not coming in tomorrow and you’re still paying me’. Any payment for days off has to be immediate, such as ‘take tomorrow (Xmas Eve) off and you all get paid’.
  5. Think about it. Yes, actually think about what you are giving. These people have worked for you all year. Would it be too much for you to spend an hour actually thinking about what to give them? This will stop you from giving a bottle of wine to Kevin the tee-totaller or chocolates to Lynn who is trying to lose weight. No matter how good the gift is, it won’t be appreciated.
  6. Give gift cards, not cash. Handing out wads of cash can be tacky. Ensure the gift cards are for shops that sell a variety of things. There’s nothing worse than a man repeatedly walking into a candle shop hoping like hell that they will eventually sell something he wants.
  7. Be appropriate. The sexy suspenders for Jane and leather mask for Nick may seem funny at the time, but wont be to FairWork when the ‘you know what’ hits the fan later on.
  8. If money is tight you can always just say a meaningful thank you. Not a huge ‘staff address’ type of thanks. But take the employee aside, buy them lunch or coffee and say thank you in a personal way. Be specific and mention ‘actual’ things they did well and that you appreciated. Sincerity will last much longer than a ham.

Finally the best thing you can do is ‘be a good boss’ for 52 weeks of the year and not just the last one. That, more than any gift will bring people back next year. And most importantly they will come back willing to give you and your company their very best efforts.

Good luck and a very Merry Christmas from everyone at Nathan Burke Consulting.

Nathan Burke started his career as a schoolteacher before the demands of elite level football with St Kilda F.C. took over. Following a successful corporate career he founded Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers High Performance training and coaching solutions to corporates, schools and sports teams.

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