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As you run a marathon of your festive favourites over the holidays, you may begin to notice some eerie, albeit comical similarities between your best-loved (or loathed) Christmas movie protagonists and the plethora of personalities you encounter and manage in your workplace.
Workplace personalities can be as brightly lit as an entire block of suburban households on Christmas Eve, or as cold and unforgiving as the frosty winter season. But if there’s one thing we can learn from Christmas movies, it’s that it is indeed possible to build bridges and positive (or at least civil) relationships at the office.
In this blog, we highlight our top 3 Christmas movie personalities you’re most likely to meet and manage at the office!
Movie: Office Christmas Party
Clay (T.J. Miller) and Carol (Jennifer Anniston) Vanstone — the brother and sister team who inherit a tech company in the film – are as different as night and day, with radically conflicting approaches to running their business. On the one hand you have Clay, the fun-loving party-popper who wants nothing more than to see his employees having the time of their lives, and on the other you have Carol, the chief executive who is all business, and ultimately the Scrooge of this Christmas story. When she cancels the holiday party, Clay stages one anyway, hoping to use the glamourous (and wild) festivities to impress a potential client.
You’ve no doubt encountered Clay in your workplace – the happy-go-lucky chap who keeps the engagement and wellbeing of his colleagues and employees on top of his list of priorities. While his heart is certainly in the right place, his rowdy enthusiasm and lust for fun may need to be reigned in somewhat, lest the party spins wildly out of control to the point where a client ends up disassociating themselves from your business or worse still, in the emergency room!
The Clay of the office does not respond well to a strictly authoritarian approach, and will not take ‘no’ for answer without a reasonable explanation to back it up. As such, you should aim to bring out the best in him by establishing middle ground that allows him to positively take initiative and unify employees, without tarnishing the reputation of the business.
Movie: The Holiday
After a string of failed relationships which have left her cynical and unable to shed a single tear, Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz) is the jet-setting workaholic from Los Angeles who instantly grows bored and twitchy with quaint country life and the sound of silence – so much so that she books a flight home after just one day into her house-swapping exercise with Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet).
Amanda is that one employee who permanently has the phone to her ear, and never seems to take a day off! It’s as though her very survival is dependent on how busy she is, to the point where she will deprioritise hobbies and leisure activities in favour of work.
Workaholics often present a mixed bag for managers, but with the right management, you can minimise negative effects and highlight the positives that workaholics bring to the workplace. While there is certainly an opportunity for you to get the most out of a workaholic’s effort and willingness to help other employees, you also need to practically minimise the risk of tension and a subsequent burnout that is also associated with self-described workaholics.
The key to getting the most out of workaholics lies in providing them with the resources they need to take full advantage of the positives they bring to the table. Providing access to personnel, rest, equipment and social support at work can have a positive impact on workaholics in a variety of different ways, including higher job satisfaction, perceived job importance and career fulfilment.
Movie: Daddy's Home 2
Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell), the mild-mannered radio executive who struggles to be a good husband to his wife and stepfather to his new kids, is just the sort of socially-awkward and sensitive softie you would encounter in workplace. Brad is easily intimidated and hates confrontation – traits which ultimately leave him reluctant to initiate difficult ‘birds and bees’ conversations, or fight for his family!
Although sensitive and emotionally intelligent employees certainly have their strengths, including their ability to listen and empathise with others in order to solve problems and build good relationships, they can also be resentful of constructive criticism, yet unwilling to communicate their reservations and concerns. They also have a tendency to ‘run scared’ when faced with the opportunity to claim ownership of their projects and responsibilities.
For these employees, it’s important to create and uphold a workplace culture which opens up the line of communication across all ranks of the workforce, and discourages the fear of failure. Most important of all, you need to remember to listen to what they have to say, and let them know that you value their insights and what they bring to the table, as this will encourage them to be more communicative and assertive about their ideas!
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