I remember once attending an office staff party where there were 2 speeches from the executive team. It was a large company with many employees.

The First Leader’s Speech:
The first leader pointed out that everyone should “Do better”. He repeated this phrase several times through his speech. “Don’t be selfish; Be better.” It was not constructive or encouraging. He did not articulate or explain any specific or helpful tips on how to “be better” or how to “do better”. Perhaps this leader is normally brilliant, and on-point; perhaps he was just under extreme pressure with any number of frustrating staffing and financial issues, but it was clear to everyone there that on this occasion his method and timing were poor. He finished his speech by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, but the damage had been done. His speech soured the mood and just made everyone see him in a negative light. Yes, it is the responsibility of management to manage their teams, encourage, reprimand, critique and discipline when necessary, but the method and timing does require discernment. An office Christmas party is supposed to be a celebration – a time to say thank you, a time to help build relationships and a time to have fun! Disciplinary speeches and complaints should be kept to a regular staff meeting or a one-on-one meeting between a manager and the problem staff member.  

The Second Leader’s Speech:
Another from the executive team also gave a speech. This leader was a Christian and whilst only a small percentage of the staff were Christians, he used his position and his speech as an opportunity to share some Biblical wisdom. He explained that the company was like a body with many parts. He quoted from the Bible to say that “If the whole body were an eye, it would not be able to hear. If the whole body were an ear, it would not be able to smell. If each part of the body were the same part, there would be no body.” The speech was encouraging, well received and helped to make every employee feel appreciated.

The lesson here is simple. Imagine that you have a child who is terrible at keeping his bedroom tidy. The time to reprimand or discipline him is not at his birthday party!

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