Could You Select the Perfect Gift for the People You Lead?

It’s here … that time of year when you are faced with finding the perfect gift for those important people in your life!

To be perfectly transparent here, there are times when I feel that I am buying a gift that is somewhat generic and while it’s a nice gesture and the receiver appreciates it, it isn’t “the perfect gift.” What I mean by “the perfect gift” is something that is truly meaningful – it is something that is suited just for that person.

Female hands in winter gloves with christmas gift boxIt’s a gift that is personal and demonstrates that you REALLY know the person. A gift that the receiver will love and always remember you for it.

When I take the time to think about the person I’m giving to, I thoroughly enjoy the whole process of gift-giving. Sometimes I’ll just come across something and it’s clear that “Paul would LOVE that!” Other times, it’s fun to really noodle on what the receiver would enjoy and even more fun anticipating them receiving it and watching them open it.

So my question for reflection is this: If you were going to select gifts for the people you lead, do you know them well enough to find their perfect gift? Do you know something about them outside of work?

Granted, it may take some time to get to know people at a deeper level, but if a leader takes some time to learn about those they lead, it not only builds camaraderie and loyalty, it generates the engagement in the workplace.

Here are a few ideas about how you could learn more about those you lead:

  • Every 6 to 10 months, schedule some one-on-one time with your direct reports and focus the conversation on hearing about what’s important to them and how satisfied they are with those aspects of work. Topics like: Content of their work; How they are rewarded and/or recognized for their work; Their career progression; The support they receive for learning something new and trying new things, etc.
  • Invite a small group to lunch or do lunch with each person with the intent of talking about life outside of work. Their family and kids, vacation plans, hobbies and interests, favorite movies/music/sports teams … you get the idea. Who are they and what do they enjoy when they are not at work?
  • Ask them directly, “If you were going to be recognized for a job well done, what type of gift/experience would you really get excited about receiving?” Do they love movies and would get fired up for passes to a pre-screening of a hot new movie? Would an extra day off do the trick? Do they enjoy a particular sports team? What is their favorite restaurant?

In this season of gift-giving, don’t let the opportunity to learn more about those who are important to you at work slip away. Even if you are not buying them a gift, a personal note and showing enthusiasm for connecting with them personally is a gift in and of itself.

Time together and taking an interest in learning about other’s lives is an investment worth taking. They will never forget the way you made them feel in the process.

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter or connect via email at