Why Santa, as a boss, is authentic AND an ass.

(A parable of the workplace.)

According to the reindeer, at Christmas Santa gives out cards and bonuses and sometimes pays for a lunch full of turkeys. Dancer can’t stand it any longer; he’s looking outside the company for a new role. Prancer is learning the advanced skills of sucking up and always being positive and has achieved two undeserved promotions. Dasher is concerned that the numbers just don’t add up and that the new performance management system is doing the opposite of its intention. Whilst Comet and Cupid have yet again caused mutterings because of their closeness at this year’s office party and are already gearing up for full-bodied activity during the Christmas break.

Donner and Blitzen have intellectually left the building seeing no point to their new roles as Change and Commitment Managers, and Rudolf has now gone into Human Resources reckoning that his large red nose will be a real asset in sniffing out how to engage with employees. The elves are concerned about forthcoming automation and the impact of the new digital age. Santa ponders on just how he will achieve the ever-increasing customer needs and compete with the march of Amazon and eBay.

41% of under-35-year-olds feel organisations are falling short on their expectations that business should be a force for good. As they achieve senior leadership positions themselves, will the maturing millennial workforce affect the changes they wish to see and realize their potential? Will they make a difference or just yearn for a happier and more peaceful world when they see how their elders, though not necessarily their betters, have done on their watch?

Employees of all ages and stages want something unique. Yes, there are common themes, and yes, there are differences but by these very differences they offer organisations a vast capacity for learning, innovation and cross-generational advantage instead of the let’s all be jealous about what another generation has, or had.

Employees want a purpose, they want a chance to do something meaningful –  by the way this is what bosses want too. So, what gets in the way? Well, what we say and how we say it is not always a true reflection of our intent and ability to get it right for us, and for them. So choose your words carefully and think about how you say them.

Employees want something that they have choice over and the freedom to work in a way that is best for them. As Daniel Pink says in his best-selling book Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us; “Let people figure it out for themselves by choosing the best path to the goal rather than breathe down their necks and micromanage. “

Employees want innovation. Google announced its 20 percent creative time policy, which encourages employees to work on any innovative ideas they have that are company-related. Okay, not every company is Google but what about starting with a regular innovation half-day where encouraging creative freedom allows something else to take flight.

I’m also reminded of some executives I have coached who are so overwhelmed by the vastness of the problems and the sheer volume of issues they encounter, that they abandon thinking time. As a result, they start to make decisions that are not the best for them or their organisation but merely reduce their bursting and demanding email inbox.

With the incredible march of technology, the advancement of robots and the dumbing down of debate, for example the “tweetaverse”, it is left to humans to see where they can best use their skills for the development of organisations and the advancement of their self worth and subsequent legacy.

As the festive season approaches and a bright shinny New Year beckons, perhaps it’s time to reflect. What’s next? What now? What do you really, really want for yourself? Not in a selfish way, but in a way that enables you to give of your best, to yourself, to your colleagues/employees, to your organisation.

The skills and leadership required for the next ten years will be the ability to build relationships with groups of colleagues, create meaning and purpose for them and yourself and develop innovative/creative thinking, and truly believing that creating space and time to think is invaluable.

Dig deep this holiday period and search out your inner five-year-old, full of play and invention, so that next year may be the best you’ve ever had.