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The Very Best Gift You Can Give Your Team

Oh, Christmas - what a wonderful and tragic holiday you have become!  Full of lights and song, and seasonal food & drink specials, and time with family and dear friends - and stuff!  In America, we have multiple sub-holidays to our Christmas season - Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Green Monday too!  The UPS and Fedex and Amazon trucks are clogging up the highways and ‘hoods of our nation en mass in December! Our focus on consumerism at Christmas would have Jesus rolling over in his grave - if he hadn’t rolled away the stone!   

What he would approve of, however, is the focus on others during this season.  We buy gifts and make fruit cakes and knit scarves for the people we love and appreciate in our lives.  We sponsor a needy family through a local non-profit, or buy gifts for kids through the Rotary club. Colorado Gives Day is smack dab in the middle of it.  It’s a season of gratitude and I love that aspect.  

For many of us, we have co-workers or employees for whom a Christmas gift is appropriate - or expected.  What to give though? The Christmas bonus is an ever-popular item - helps to cover that discretionary spending escalation since Black Friday!  “But I always give them money” you say, “it’s what we always do to say we appreciate them - what can I give them that will be more meaningful?”  

Well, for starters, money is always meaningful, and usually it seems, in short supply, so don’t drop the Christmas bonus completely - but I hear you.  Fruitcakes are challenging and time consuming to make, (and I hear, some people don’t like them!) and knitting isn’t your thing, and we don’t know what people want as gifts! They don’t want desktop cornhole, I promise, or more cookies.    

Some of you saw my post earlier this month that LoCo’s Marketing Manager, Rory Schaar, celebrated six months with LoCo in December.  Rory’s role has grown and changed significantly during that time, and we recently added a part-time administrative support person to the team to free Rory up for a more-active business development role alongside her marketing hat.  She’s killing it so far - we added a few members in December and LoCo has always struggled to grow during the holidays!  

As we reflected on her journey with LoCo so far, Rory shared with me a note that she discovered from late 2018 - that I share here with permission.  She had begun looking for her next challenge and made a list of characteristics for her next “dream” job. As it turned out, she wasn’t able to find her dream job, and set about to create it by founding her marketing consulting business - roryschaar.com - and then joined LoCo part-time a few months later.  It was remarkable to both of us how well her current role at LoCo overlays with what she defined as her ideal job characteristics.  

Dream Job:

  • Meet people in the community | LoCo stands for LOcal COmmunity Think Tank (✓)
  • Performance Incentives | At LoCo we have incentive plan installed alongside business development role  (✓)
  • Contribute to business growth | (✓)
  • Help with growth strategy through marketing, sales, and community partnerships | (✓)
  • Get inside knowledge/experiences | Rory can see/know anything we have at LoCo (✓)
  • Connect people to needed resources |Pretty much what we do (✓)
  • Match morals and company mission | We’ve been doing some exercises (✓)
  • Work with a small team, mentors | (✓-ish)
  • Leadership opportunity- small team | (✓)
  • Local, low key vibe with big impact | (✓)
  • Travel opportunities | (Not much - yet)
  • Work from home sometimes | (✓)
  • Fun collaborative team | (✓, I think)
  • Work with inspirational women/people | So many inspirational W/P in our chapters! (✓)

With Deb on our team, we’ve been working to define roles and responsibilities with greater clarity.  Deb’s title as Member Experience Coordinator speaks to her focus - she coordinates the services directed toward our existing members and readership.  Conversely, Rory’s role is more outward-facing - marketing toward those who don’t know us yet, plus networking and business development activities focused on growing our client base and impact.  Curt’s focus is split between business development and managing the facilitator relationships and finding new facilitators to empower future growth.  

A question came up a few weeks ago, as to whether Deb or Rory would be the primary support person for Curt in his interactions with the facilitators.  The answer wasn’t immediately clear so we set the question aside for another day. As I reviewed Rory’s list above, however, it became clear that she should have that primary responsibility.  This aligns with her existing activities, in that even among existing chapters we must occasionally add new members to maintain robust chapters. But I was keyed in on what the role required that wasn’t among her existing activities.  

The LoCo Facilitators are mentors to me, every one and in different ways, and they are a small team.  To provide Rory with additional opportunities to engage with our facilitator team allows the -ish to be removed from her ideal characteristic of working with mentors, and takes the pressure off of me to be the boss, and the teammate, and the mentor at the same time.  Also, as we grow LoCo Think Tank along the Front Range in CO, and eventually beyond, we’ll need to engage with would-be LoCo Facilitators in these other areas. I can imagine a very positive impact in having a teammate alongside in these conversations and engagements, and Rory’s marketing skills will help us find them.  Hey, it’s not travel to New York or Paris, but we do what we can and Boulder is nice!  

I know where I’m going with all this, but you might not yet so I’ll just get to it. The best gift you can give your team is to be sensitive to their individual needs and preferences, and become aware (and help them do so if necessary) of their special talents, and to be willing to adapt roles and responsibilities so that people can find their best fitment.  This must all be to the benefit of your business of course - we can’t have people sitting and writing poetry when they’re supposed to be operating the pizza oven! But if you’ve got a great writer on the team - maybe let them participate in updating your website, creating a flyer, or posting on social media - even if their main job is making pizza. If a young office staffer shows an interest in joining for client calls, bring them! - they might be your next great sales person or account manager.  Especially in a small business where everyone has to wear a few hats - let people try on different hats so they (and you) can know which ones fit best!  

Just as you plan for and develop growth in your business, make time to plan for growth and development of the people within it.  Help them find their best fitment on your team which will result in their biggest impact for your company, it’s a gift that keeps on giving! 

- Curt Bear

LoCo Think Tank Founder 

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