How does Santa do it?

By Jim Annis, CEO

When we think about how Santa accomplishes all that he needs to, there is only one true answer: It’s his wife. Somebody has to run the place while he’s gallivanting around the world. Therefore, we decided to have some fun and create a parable in the form of a poem about how Santa – the CEO of the North Pole – is like today’s CEO in business. Enjoy as this takes the rhythm of “T’was the Night Before Christmas”:

T’was the Night Before Christmas and the CEO said,

“I can’t get these bright shiny objects out of my head.

“I know my task for tonight is terribly clear,

“But I’ve jumped ahead visioning about next year!”

Mrs. Claus jumped right in and said, “Now focus, Santa.

“You’ve presents to deliver from Shanghai to Atlanta.

“Work on those new initiatives when you return,

“Because we’ve got your back here and we’re willing to learn.”

Said Santa, “I am so happy with everyone in one central space,

“All working hard to provide a wonderful, fun-filled workplace.

“Now that the North Pole operation is back under one roof

“I’m giddy listening to elf feet and each tender reindeer hoof.”

She said, “Our new management structure’s reliable and strong.

“Your delegation’s a must and the team’s come so far along,

“They’ve implemented LEAN programs – like Six Sigma but better,

“We’re efficient following ‘The Eight Reindeer’ process to the letter.”

“It’s true,” said Santa. “We’ve all done very good work.

“From the elves to the reindeer, no one is a shirk.

“Let’s reward everyone with a great bonus plan,

“And recognize success all year ‘cuz we can.”

Mrs. Claus said, “Let’s add health insurance for the whole bunch.

“The Affordable Healthcare Act has packed quite a punch!

“It’s like the holiday fruitcake that no one ever eats,

“The recipe keeps changing and keeping up’s quite a feat!”

“Dear, your pack is heavy from high-tech, tweets, posts and blogs,

“Last year it was Tweety, Pokemon and Lincoln Logs!

“Times they are a changing, social media this and that,

“Tradition is important but Santa must be a cool cat!”

“Dear wife,” said Santa, “those sweet sleigh bells are ringing.

“Like the Polar Express book when I hear them dinging.

“Saddens me kids grow up, can’t hear, stop believing,

“I lead by example, giving not receiving.

“Beliefs drive behaviors, my inner strategist screams.

“To do the right thing daily and not just in dreams.

“So I’ll shout from the rooftop, on each house I alight,
“Believe, hear the bells, and to all a good night!!

Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Applied’s COO, contributed to this article.

Read the article in the RGJ here.

Switching to a virtual office? 6 things to consider

By Jim Annis


So, you’ve been thinking about giving yourself a “gift” this year and going virtual. Perhaps you’ve made a list of assumptions about going virtual — in whole or in part — that might need to be checked twice. Here are some things to think about.

This is not a big deal: This can be a game-changer, positive or negative. Your productivity might increase. It might decrease. Your customers might love it. They might hate it, too. This is one of those decisions that cannot be made quickly or lightly or without the analysis from your core team as to whether it is the right thing for you to do.

Everything is in the cloud anyway: That’s not 100 percent true, but yes, we are leaning that way. The biggest questions to ask yourself are “What does my customer base require?” and “Is there a need for bricks and mortar?” For a great example, think about if Santa’s workshop were considering going virtual. Probably not possible, if they want to keep the mystique about the Santa’s Workshop alive and well.

Staff communication: How well does staff communicate now, and how? Going virtual requires a firm commitment to a communication plan which outlines very specific ways of communication (text, email, shared documents/calendars, video, in person, phone conference), dependent upon the purpose, as well as frequency and guidelines as to how to keep everyone engaged (no cellphone use during virtual meetings, etc.). Getting together in a virtual setting may take more pre-planning as you cannot physically get everyone together around a desk in two minutes.

Leadership adaptation: Communicating is not the same as leading! Leadership will need to evolve with a virtual setting to be effective in modeling the way, inspiring shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act and encouraging the heart. Try patting someone on the back from miles away!

Dipping your big toe in first: Allowing everyone to work a day a week at home rather than create some radically new establishment first is a great litmus test. In this way you will be able to observe who is effective at this type of work arrangement, who is not and then make decisions from there. Do they need software? Better time management? What are best practices? Then if it works for you, great! You may not have to go “full throttle” virtual in order to reap some of the benefits.

Office holiday parties: Going virtual could simplify things, reducing your liability and HR headaches the next day. Everyone would meet online in a video chat setting. Drinks are not a budget item because everyone would BYOB from home (or just open the cabinet). Driving home intoxicated and that liability goes away. No worries about food allergies or annoying social media photos showing up embarrassingly after the fact. You can institute a virtual whiteboard where everyone shares their holiday traditions and a live chat allowing everyone to comment. Each person could buy a gift for the Rotary Holiday Toy Drive or other nonprofit gift program, then virtually “gift” it to another employee and explain why he or she chose that item for that person.

There is a lot to “virtually” love about this idea. Just like any important decision, due diligence and open communication based on your particular business, culture and employees will point you in the right direction.

Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Applied’s COO, contributed to this article.

Read the article in the RGJ here.