Christmas Down Under

Here’s a little wish for the last post of 2016: Let’s stop copying the Northern Hemisphere, particularly with our holidays and our seasons. And since it’s almost Christmas, let’s talk about how to have an Ossie Christmas.

A lot of us have already farewelled the hot turkey dinner and moved to a mixed grill on the barby on the beach or by the pool. Me, I like a cold buffet.

What about farewelling Father Christmas, too? Poor man must get heat stroke down here with all those heavy clothes. Let’s adopt the Swag Man. He can wear a brown Akubra, a blue singlet, long baggy shorts (pulled up high enough for modesty please) and thongs. He can spend the year under Uluru with his merry dingos until Christmas, when he sets off in his big four-wheel drive to deliver presents.

And what about farewelling some songs? I’m dreaming of a Brown Christmas doesn’t have the same ring to it as dreaming of a White Christmas, but what about Deck the Sheds and A True Blue Aussie Christmas, maybe sung to a traditional tune unless we can come up with our own tune, and I don’t see why we can’t.

I’ve had a bush Christmas tree for years, basically a dead branch that I spray paint white or gold and decorate. Last year I made a bush wreath for the front door, another dead branch sprayed white and hung upside down and decorated. One year, I picked some bright red kangaroo paws, popped them in a vase and put tinsel all over them. Beautiful, until the cats discovered it.

Happily, there is a growing selection of Australian Christmas tree decorations, too. I couldn’t resist a kookaburra wearing a swag hat with corks – corny but cute, and a kangaroo with a star to use as a tree topper, and a joey in a boot.

Really, now, why can’t we come up with a lot more of our own ways of doing things, eh?

‘Ave a bonza Chrissy everyone! Back in the New Year!



Five easy steps to a great Christmas

Are you winding down already for the silly season? Probably. Given that there are only 11 days until Christmas, I’ve got a five step plan you can begin with your next coffee break. It brings sound management planning into ‘the real world’ — work-life blending, as it were. Following the plan will keep you not only sane over this holiday season, but help you enjoy it to the utmost.

  1. Decide what you want to achieve, your Big Goal, your Guiding Vision. It might be, for example, To have a wonderful, relaxing, joyous Christmas season or To bring cheer wherever you go. Keep that in the back of your mind at all times and refer to it when you need to decide what to do next or how do do something, when you need to make a choice between alternatives, or even when you need to remember to bite your tongue. Write your Guiding Vision in the centre of a sheet of paper and draw a circle around it.
  2. Brainstorm the main areas you need to manage in order to achieve your vision, for example: Special Meals, Community or School involvement, ‘Me Time’, Family & Friends Time, Presents. Write each area you want to manage around your Guiding Vision.
  3. Now quickly jot down a To Do list underneath each main area. For Special Meals, it might be Menus and Shopping. You might subdivide Menus into Pre-preparation and Last Minute Preparation and Shopping into Buy Ahead, Pre-order and Buy Last Minute.
  4. Decide when you need to do each of these and diarise it electronically or draw up a weekly plan on a piece of paper.
  5. Follow your plan. Now you’re fully on top of everything and raring to go!

And here’s how to wish everyone a great Christmas in three languages:

  • American English: Merry Christmas
  • British English: Happy Christmas
  • Australian English: ‘Ave a bonza Chrissie, mate!

Impressive, isn’t it?

The Case for Quotas

Quotas or the merit principle? I’ve seen persuasive cases made for each. But some recent long term meta-research sways me towards the case for quotas.

Traditional measures to increase organisational diversity have failed. Mandatory diversity programs haven’t worked and may make matters worse (people learn the lines and ignore the sentiment behind them). Recruitment testing hasn’t worked (people can ignore the results). Performance ratings haven’t worked (women and people from minority groups tend to receiver poorer reviews whatever their performance). Robust grievance procedures haven’t worked (people don’t trust them and therefore use them only when they’re desperate; complaints drop and organisations conclude there is no problem).

What does work?  Increasing contact with disadvantaged groups works. ‘Gosh, they’re not so bad after all. Wonder what the fuss was about?’

Quotas are one way to increase contact with people from disadvantaged groups. So are formal mentoring and sponsoring programs aimed at people from minority groups. Cross training and job rotation work when they involve contact between different groups of people. High-level diversity task forces that examine the causes of low diversity and find ways to increase diversity work, too.

Compliance isn’t the answer. Steps to protect the organisation from complaints and litigation aren’t the answer. Stealth seems to be a more effective way to increase diversity.

If you want to read more about this study and these and other measures that increase diversity, check out Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev’s article, Why Diversity Programs Fail, in the July-August 2016 edition of Harvard Business Review.