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I was rushing to a meeting yesterday in the Sydney CBD – and I was waiting at the pedestrian lights to cross the road. Three people in suits and in their mid-thirties were having an animated conversation – they had just left the building on our right.

Person One said, “We should be paid overtime for the amount of work we are asked to do.”

Person Two responded, “That’s what our Christmas bonus is for – to cover all the extra time we put in.”

Person Three bemoaned “Problem is no one is going to get Christmas bonuses this year.”

The lights changed and they hurried off. I wanted to walk into their employer and tell them what I had just heard. To ask ‘Do you know how you are being talked about?’ ‘Do you know how demotivated your people are?’ They are thinking it is just long hard hours from here on in. I wondered what frame of mind they are in today when talking with customers.

Even in tough times people still have a choice. Organisations want to keep their A grades and have them as productive as possible. To get them to give their discretionary effort. I have blogged about it before.

I got to my meeting and in the general chit chat, before the agenda commenced, one of the participants commented that his business was still performing well, in fact, they had had an uplift in some of their service lines. He then announced that they had cancelled the Christmas party. “Why?” I asked. He responded, “It simply would not look good – us having fun when there are other people who are not tracking that well.” I asked, “Why not just down the scale – but still, do something.” He responded, “Because once we paid the cancellation fee of what we had booked – we wouldn’t have saved any money anyway.”

Go figure…

At the end of the meeting, another person commented that in the past five years he had almost never seen his MD. In the last 5 weeks, his MD has been ‘rushing around like a headless chook’. He continued ‘All he’s doing is making everyone else panic, my people, are all now so concerned they are almost too paralysed to operate and get on with their work.’

I thought to myself ‘as the leadership team goes – so goes the rest of the organisation’ (said that before a few times too). Panic and drama result in more panic and drama. People are looking for steady and balanced leadership. Stick to the plan, deliver on the plan – no knee jerk reactions.

Christmas is fast approaching – it is the time to make people feel special, to honour their contribution, to notice what they do. And to celebrate what was achieved. People won’t mind if what you do is smaller, less expensive. But doing nothing is not an option. It is a long time until next Christmas… and your people have long memories, and now is the time you want more from them than ever before…. so please Don’t Crunch Christmas.

What is happening in your business this festive season?

Reader Interactions


  1. Naomi you blog was so timely and I had to share! The night before you sent this I’d had a conversation with 3 of my friends about their work Xmas parties.

    One works for a major telco = they were told staff wouldn’t receive Xmas presents this year and the Xmas party would be cut down to drinks (rather than the full dinner shindig that normally takes place)

    One works for a major NZ airline = they were told they were still having a Xmas party with some money contribution from the company but staff were now required to pay $40 if they wanted to attend.

    One works for a large outdoor advertising agency = they were told their Xmas party was cancelled.

    3 very different reactions! But 1 common theme from each of my friends was just to have something to mark the occasion and celebrate the end of the year. They all understand why the changes had to made but they all just wanted to celebrate – even a simple Xmas drink would be nice gesture.

    And since last week – the “cancelled xmas party” – there was such disappointment amongst the staff, they realised they needed to be more resourceful. They used the deposit ($30,000!!!) of the hotel that they were going to lose (due to the cancellation of accommodation from interstate staff) to have drinks at the hotel. My friend said that work was a much happier place this week!

  2. The financial crunch is effecting everyone, I have to say I work in a little company with a small team and we are very lucky that we are still having a Christmas lunch when we close for the holidays, I think that something small just to say thanks for the hard work you have given to the company is really the least a company can do for their staff even if its just snacks and drinks.

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