Corporate birthday ideas hit
Shocking but TRUE!
Although Raphael was not there on his
birthday his co-workers got him a cake, blew out the candles...and ate it too!
And when he returned...they had another cake. Couldn't miss his "birthday"
now, could they?!
Better Business Birthdays
7 Habits of Highly Effective Birthday Rebels
Navigating the Birthday at Work minefield.
Yes, Raphael's celebration is like out of the pages of the National
The office cake carousel usually gets a full work
out during the year. It seems to be as far as corporate birthday ideas go in
some places. Depending on who is in the mix and what initiative they
show or are allowed to show, this can either make for an exciting diversion or a
valid reason for, as they say in Australia, to take "a sickie"
[NB: sickie = day off work for apparent illness]
The whole birthday thing at work is a very gray
area. The clash of expectations and the need to show no favoritism given the
diversity of the staff is a real hot zone of emotion and, sadly, stupidity.
Relax though. Here is the an answer to all who
"IAren't there any decent corporate birthday ideas anymore?"
Yes, there is.
timely thoughts about...
What we want to AVOID: The Cake Conspiracy
Something is better than nothing. Right?
Nothing -- repeat -- NOTHING! says you have no
imagination or you don't really care like a store-bought birthday cake.
If the ritual isn't meaningful to the person don't do it! Put some thought into
What's worse than a cake...?
There was a time -- I hope I forget it -- when I experienced
the lamest of all lame corporate birthday ideas. Four people and one
cake! How nice that our fathers shed sperm 'round the same calendar
time and our mothers gave agonizing birth in the same week of the year!
SO!!?? Ripped-off! I have to share your birthday wishes with these bozos? I
am not impressed. I have heard of doing more with less but that is
Yes, I hear the CEOs and VPs saying: "it's
not our responsibility to organize cakes and corporate birthday ideas
etc., this IS a business you know!" No it isn't, in work-speak your core
business-KPI-Milestone-Blah-Blah. But think of the return on your small
investment in productivity terms.
It's part of the culture, your business
folk-lore and the smooth running of a social group called a place of
And it takes NO EFFORT.
Replacing the Cake Conspiracy
Be mindful of the landscape. Think of call
Hard to sing happy birthday to a person who receiving a complaint call.
Surprises are out too. They will be expecting something.
And the grapevine no doubt will add to the spilling of the beans. Have you ever
tried to act surprised? Not even Jack Nicholson stubbing his toe can act surprised. It's very
So, roll up you sleeves and become... a Corporate Birthday Ideas Rebel.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Birthday Rebels include the following:
They really have their finger on the pulse. A good first action could be to
lobby staff to Ban the Cake and then go under cover to work your birthday-ops
your Hand Up.
Showing initiative comes easy to Rebels. So too does ownership. They
like doing things for others.
You Challenge the existing power cartels.
Those who don't like social office change OR who think
their way is the way will clash with the rebels. Bring it on!
You Engage others.
These rebels have social influence. All you need is 5%!! Once 5% of the staff
love the idea, they will convince 20% and the revolution is here!
You Acknowledge and
Understand the importance of this. Most business -- in my business
coaching experience -- don't get this. They will acknowledge and validate
CONDITIONALLY. And they wonder why "good staff are hard to find". Their
conditional approach extends to customers too. They treat them well when they
have money in hand. And they wonder why the business never seems to have enough
customers...always looking for new ones is the sign that the existing ones
have been forgotten. No wonder they "walk".
Don't allow the "don't make a fuss for me" syndrome to take root.
You know your Main Mission
..allow the Birthday Celebrations to enhance the work
place and take the time to POINT THIS OUT TO MANAGEMENT.
- Talk to lots of people every day.
Communication is the key.
- Build anticipation rather than the surprise.
- Public acknowledgement is a good option..20 seconds
applause directed at he b-day person is all it takes.
- Keep it different and special. Look for
ideas and ways to do this. Keep a file. label it: Our Corporate Birthday
- Everyone plays! Everyone! How do you feel when you get
left out or forgotten?
- Donations to a charity in lieu of a cake.
Have a target
for the year and celebrate the handing over with the money at a time that is
appropriate to the charity. Celebrate that!
- Fuzzy Boxes - people get to place an
anonymous, caring -- underline caring -- warm fuzzy note in the box.
Must be genuine and not a place for romance or abuse. This
could be left up all year. The concepts of giving and receiving can be seen in
this activity. Those with no messages get perfect feedback. 21C twist? -
do it with email and a web page.
The birthday culture at work is only a
reflection of the other cultures present in the business: Customer Service,
Sales and Marketing, Management, Quality Assurance, etc.. With a focus on
diversity in world corporations presently, it makes beautiful sense to examine
the diversity of how well we manage employees. This is at the heart of the
Corporate Birthday Ideas revolution.
If you sign up as a Corporate Birthday Ideas Rebel remember:
...keep your head low, wear a smile and have a few standby candles in the
stationery cupboard -- just in case.
Neal Lohse © 2006