We’re surrounded by people with a holiday spirit.


Yes indeed, your business is brimming with holiday people. I see them every day when I visit clients. In the right position, these special people can really add to your business. In the wrong spot, they’ll hurt you.

There are many types of holiday people. You, as a manager, need to learn to identify and properly position your holiday people.

Here are the holiday people you need to identify.

Christmas trees and Santas. These are the folks that light up a room when they enter. They sparkle. They are well decorated. People look forward to seeing them and tend to gravitate toward them. Something is obviously wrong if they are missing. Christmas trees need to be on the front lines with your customers. If you’re lucky, you have a Santa or two. These are the cheerful givers. They like to make people happy. Santas are good in customer service and sales. Santas also make good team leaders because they encourage groups to be good and they reward their fellow team members.

There are people who are Easter eggs. You have to be careful not to confuse an Easter egg with a Christmas tree. Easter eggs are also nicely decorated and tend to be exceptionally sweet. Sometimes though, their center isn’t what you expected. Easter eggs have to be watched. They melt in heat. Their surprise centers can throw people off. Too much sweetness can cause cavities. Easter eggs, though always sweet, can get on your nerves. Easter eggs make good admins because they can get simple things done—they can keep your schedule straight, book travel, arrange meetings—all because of the little suprises of pleasure Easter egg people like to give. People like Easter eggs and they can do wonders to keep things flowing smoothly but Easter eggs don’t make good leaders. They lack substance because their main ingredient is sugar. But every good team has at least one.

Some people are fireworks. I feel for these people because they are often misunderstood and under utilized. These are the people that rocket up to high places and explode with a dazzling array of beautiful energy. Everyone oooohs and ahhhhhs and then they fade. Fireworks make great innovators. They can bring fresh ideas into your business. They can add the oooohs and ahhhhs that you’re missing. Because fireworks tend to do their thing in a relatively short time and then fade, management tends to forget about them. Fireworks get the reputation for being a “flash in the pan”. He was great on that one project but hasn’t done anything since. Fireworks can be very valuable if you understand them. First thing to remember is that fireworks have a fuse that needs to be lit. A little motivation goes a long way with a firework.

Because their colorful and impressive displays come in short bursts, they need to be used for short term projects appropriate to their talent for stunning and energetic display. For fireworks to impress, there needs to be a short pause between ignitings. Reward them well and they will repeatedly reward you back. Don’t expect fireworks to be always in full display. But don’t shelve them for that shortcoming. Use your fireworks with the understanding that they are best at short term, creative projects.

Vampires. These are the people that suck the life out of everything they encounter. They kill projects and parties alike. People hate to work with vampires because they find themselves drained by them. Vampires are clever. They’re smart and often occupy positions of trust with management. That gives them access to the best blood. It also gives them access to new blood. They gain the confidence of management by being very good to them, often through creating dependencies. All the while the vampire is sucking the life from those around them. Feeling a little tired today? Look around for vampires. Most businesses have at least one. They’re easy to spot. They are the ones that always have a reason why something should not be done, tried, innovated or celebrated. Don’t let a vampire near any new people and never put a vampire on any project that requires creativity. Never.

That brings us to the turkeys. Turkeys are popular but full of stuffing. Turkeys talk a lot. Turkeys talk about all the wonderful things they could do if just given the chance. Turkeys often complain about not being given opportunity to show their stuff. Think about it. Why do we only have turkey once a year? Because turkeys make better sandwiches than dinners. It’s good to have turkey once a year. It seems like the thing to do and it just looks so darn good on the table. But turkey isn’t prime rib and it’s not surf and turf. It gets the job done on Thanksgiving but once a year is enough because you know it’s just a bigger version of chicken.

Your business has Christmas trees, Easter eggs, fireworks, vampires and turkeys. You also have people for all the days in between. They get the work done. The between-the-holidays people keep things running for you. The vampires can mess things up by killing innovation. The Christmas trees can brighten and lift spirits. The Easter eggs can sweeten up business and surprise you with new ideas but you’ll have to hunt for them. The fireworks bring the oooohs and ahhhhs of new thought and ”wow“ moments.

The smart manager makes good use of every day.

Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog

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