Whatever trinket or cash reward you decide to give your team, here are 10 must-have employee gifts for 2017. If your team already has all 10 of these gifts, congratulations to you and to them!
1. The gift of latitude. Let your employees decide how to do their jobs. Within a few weeks on the job they will know more about their jobs than you or their managers do. Let them put their own stamp on the job, whenever possible.
2. The gift of self-leadership. Once you establish goals and put dates to them with your team’s input, let your employees figure out how to hit the goals. Daily and weekly sub-goals and yardsticks often do a better job of stressing people out than of helping them reach the big goals that really matter.
3. The gift of your attention. Very little is more frustrating to a hard-working employee than difficulty getting the boss’s time and attention. Make time to listen to your employees when they want to talk to you. It’s much better to have them tell you when something isn’t working than to have your customers inform you — by leaving in droves!
4. The gift of respect. Ask your employees for their views before you enact new rules or procedures. Ask them for their ideas about any aspect of the business they care to comment on. Involve them in running the company, and they’ll care about it. Fight against the management mindset that most of us were taught as children, the one that says “You can tell these folks what to do and they have to do it, because you pay them!”
5. The gift of boundaries. Put a mental wall around your employees’ personal lives. Unless it’s an emergency, leave them alone to enjoy their off-work hours.
6. The gift of backing off. When you feel stressed out, your employees do too. Be aware of your own tendency (all managers have it) to stress your employees out even further by riding them about whatever issue you’re most worried about. Take a long walk or run up and down the stairs instead of standing over them, fretting.
7. The gift of being human. Everybody gets frustrated at times and so will you. Nobody expects you to be a saint. When you lose your temper, apologize. When you were wrong, say “I was so wrong about that!” Be human with your employees, and you will never regret it.
8. The gift of flexibility. Any time you have the opportunity to be flexible with an employee who needs a day off or some other small accommodation (or even a big one), take it! Nothing builds trust on your team more than your ability to bend and flex when their lives get crazy — the way all lives do.
9. The gift of awareness. Your employees do amazing things for you and your customers every day — so many that you couldn’t count them all if you tried. Pay close attention so you can see and hear about as many of these triumphs as possible — and celebrate them!
10. The gift of trust. Take down any barriers to trust that exist in your organization (typical barriers being bureaucratic HR policies, unaddressed conflict, and uncertainty about the future) by talking openly about them. When you talk about sticky topics, your employees will trust you enough to bring up new sticky topics you didn’t even know you were dealing with.
The sign of a trust-based organization is that everyone is always talking about things that have to be addressed or problems you may encounter in the future. That’s not complaining — it’s organization-building, and it’s exactly what you want.
Give your employees these 10 gifts and your 2017 will be even more bountiful than your 2016 was!