Helping others at work

Business expert Paul Butler points out that great managers look out for the needs of their employees, whereas mediocre ones usually do not — but both set the expectation for their employees. (MC)

Today — the day after Christmas Day is not just Dec. 26, but for many it’s Boxing Day.

It’s often said in England, “Christmas Day is for family and Boxing Day is for the people you really want to be with.” Charming!

For the last 14 years, we’ve hosted a Boxing Day party at our home — whereas this year, of course, we will be Zooming folks in, hoping they’re not all Zoomed out.

The exact roots of this holiday are unknown, but there are two leading theories, both of which are connected to charity traditionally distributed on the day after Christmas.

One idea is that Dec. 26 was the day centuries ago when lords of the manor and aristocrats typically distributed “Christmas boxes” often filled with small gifts, money and leftovers from Christmas dinner to their household servants and employees, who were required to work on Dec. 25, in recognition of good service throughout the year. These boxes were, in essence, holiday bonuses.

Another popular theory is that the Boxing Day moniker arose from the alms boxes that were placed in churches during the Advent season for the collection of monetary donations from parishioners. Clergy members distributed the contents of the boxes to the poor on Dec. 26.

Regardless of which of these two theories is accurate, or if they both are correct or neither is true —  what I see common between them is the giving to someone else who may be in need.

Have you noticed there are some fine leaders who look out for the needs of others whereas most mediocre managers only tend to look out for their three favorites — me, myself and I?

Leaders must have followers. Without followers, a leader isn’t leading anyone—they’re just wandering around aimlessly barking orders no-one else hears. It can be exhausting for a leader to have to keep “carrot and sticking” their subordinates. If their people perform, they give out a carrot, if they don’t, they metaphorically yield a stick.

Great leaders always look out for the needs of others — they turn the organizational pyramid upside-down and seek to serve than to be served. They give because they’ve received the same gift from another in the past — just like Boxing Day.

Likewise, have you noticed there are some coworkers who will go out of their way to help their colleagues — whereas others will run the other way complaining about how “frazzled” or “stressed” they are to see beyond themselves?

Some coworkers will go over and beyond to delight the customer whereas others will do the bare minimum. It’s almost as if some people need no job description because they always exceed expectations and volunteer assistance before they’re even asked. Other colleagues seem to be a walking-talking job description.

I remember working with a client organization once and a rather unfriendly-looking employee had her job description mounted in a plastic frame on her desk, which proudly declared her own independence from any requests her boss or coworkers asked that were not present in the plastic. I guess that’s one way of seeing the working world.

Great coworkers are great colleagues because they are constantly reminding themselves that the “co” in coworker and colleague means us, working together interdependently to support each other in our service to the person who pays our wages — the customer. Just like on Boxing Day.

As we head into this new year after the one we’ve all endured, let’s stay focused on regifting what we’ve been gifted. I am sure each of us has much to be grateful for, regardless of whether we’re a business owner, a leader or a coworker to our colleagues. We need each other now perhaps more than ever as we climb out from under the cloud of COVID.

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Signal newspaper. For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected].

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