Is this season of multiple holidays a stressful or positive time in your workplace?
For many it can be stressful because people are afraid of saying the wrong thing to co-workers or team members from different cultures or religious backgrounds. Or doing the wrong thing in terms of celebrations in the office.
Many of us have the intention of being inclusive, but end up treading carefully and doing nothing. We think about changing the way we celebrate diversity at this time of year, but often get stuck in fear mode – rather than turning our thoughts/feelings into positive action.
At the Centre for Character Leadership, we talk a great deal about intention, which is about being clear (rather than vague) about what the real issues are. It’s a wonderful time of year to intentionally honour diversity and find ways to celebrate our similarities and differences – here are some tips:
1: Be inclusive: Most people are looking for reasons to celebrate -- ensure they feel comfortable/included. But don’t just change the title from ‘Christmas party’ to ‘holiday party’. Make this season of holidays a time to share cultural celebrations through stories, decorations, and foods. If you have a work party, make sure decorations and food from all cultures are represented.
2: Don’t make assumptions – find out: Do you know enough about what is celebrated, and how, by each one of your team members, especially those who come from different cultures or religious backgrounds? Find out! Being educated will take the fear away.
3: Open up a conversation about values: Ask team members about what is important to them during this season of multiple holidays. During regular one-on-ones, or during a full team meeting, ask: What is important to you as we go through this season of holidays? This simple question will help you understand the values of team members around this specific issue.
4: Do something real to show you care: Whether you learn traditional greetings and correct pronunciation for different holidays, decorate the office in a way that respects diversity, or make time at meetings to talk about different cultural observances, take some kind of action to show you really care.
5: Stay up-to-date: Ensure you are up-to-date on your organization’s mandates or best practices regarding cultural diversity, whether it is about holiday cards, accommodating diverse foods, gift giving, days off, etc.
At the Centre for Character Leadership we are passionate about helping leaders communicate effectively and with intention. And we are interested in learning how your organization has already taken an intentional approach to this season of holidays. Send me an email and let me know!
Kathleen Redmond, MA, MCC