Dear Santa Wish List

December 2020

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A friend recently posted a social media meme that said, “We are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm. Be kind.” I can’t think of a better summation for how the pandemic has affected people in varying ways, or a better prescriptive: Be kind.

As 2020 comes to a close, many people are pretty much worn down to a nub resulting from health, financial, employment and/or childcare issues. My heart broke when I was recently on the phone with a company’s service representative with her baby wailing in the background. This service representative fixed my problem and apologized profusely for her crying child, even though I told her it was OK. According to McKinsey’s B2B Decision-Maker Pulse survey, around 90% of B2B decision-makers expect the remote representative interactions and digital model to stick around for the long run, and three in four believe the new model is as effective or more so than before COVID-19 (for both existing customers and prospects). Some companies are easing the burden for work-at-home employees by offering limited reimbursement for work-from-home gear, virtual camps for workers’ children, and some have introduced 10 fully paid days exclusively for caregiver leave. This is a start, but not nearly enough for workers with families to care for and children to educate.

January 1 marks the new year, but the date will not magically erase the world’s woes. Still, it’s a milestone date … a new quarter that signals the beginning of 2021’s business goals that, hopefully, you set in Q4 2020. Remember, hoping aspects of your business will return to normal is not a plan for making it happen.  

Last year, before we would be blindsided by a pandemic, I wrote a “Dear Santa Wish List” in a newsletter with business tips for 2020. I said, “It’s a season to set goals … simple, attainable objectives that will help move you forward without overburdening your life.” Some of the tips worth repeating for 2021 are included below.

  • Make your meetings more productive by communicating the goal and agenda. Shave time off your 30-minute meetings. Invite necessary participants only and allow for every stakeholder to have an opportunity to contribute (don’t hog the stage). Assign action items and deliverables with deadlines.
  • We all need understanding and patience as we muddle through our work days under extraordinary circumstances. Learn how to offer feedback without “judgy” snark, and accept feedback as a helpful critique (in psychological safety). Need guidance? Authors M. Tamra Chandler and Laura Dowling Grealish wrote the book on making feedback a motivating and empowering experience in Feedback (and Other Dirty Words).
  • Last year’s wish list pined for world peace. A peaceful world, community, workplace and home are essential for people to thrive. I would add a healthier environment, free from COVID-19.

Stay well … and spread kindness.

—Maureen Joyce