Bluehat Group
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It’s My Birthday and I’ll Quit If I Want To #birthdayetiquette

Trending like mad over the last couple of weeks, Yaya Touré, star of Manchester City’s title-winning season, has sparked a global debate on birthday etiquette after threatening to force a move from the Etihad Stadium after being upset by the club’s failure to mark his 31st birthday sufficiently.

Many have laughed at this seemingly trivial reason to leave his colleagues and while I’m sure the wage packet at the end of the month will provide some comfort to the football player, in all seriousness, how important is the recognition of your colleague’s birthday?

On most people’s birthday an estranged aunt, grandma, second cousin etc. rears their head in the form of a tenner stuffed into a moderately humorous birthday card. People who we rarely see surface on our special day and yet those we see 5 days per week are the ones that fall under the, rather corporate, definition of colleagues. Perhaps they’re closer to ‘family’ than we tend to appreciate and we should therefore not only look at what creates a great business team but what creates a great family. Malcolm Gladwell touched on the use of family structure in the workplace in his best seller ‘The Tipping Point’, he suggested that successful families work because they have a structure of hierarchy and authority but amongst that a flexible distribution of roles. Knowledge of your family lies much deeper than your CV; when the DVD player isn’t working, when you have a dodgy shelf that needs fixing or you just need a chat about an argument you had with your sister, generally, you know which member of your family to go to- and not always the stereotypical one! You know because you know their personalities, their skills, their hobbies, their past experiences and what really encompasses that family member. And it is this personal knowledge and appreciation of each other in a family that can lend itself so effectively to your workplace. A recent study in America by Texas A&M revealed that family-owned businesses beat other firms in both revenue and employment growth as well as proving to be more stable and inspire more trust and commitment in their employees.

By showing your colleagues how much you care, whether listening to a personal problem, throwing them a surprise birthday bash in the office, or fixing a wobbly shelf, you are inspiring your workforce by acknowledging that what they do is important enough to deserve recognition. Dissatisfaction, frustration and lack of acknowledgment can eat up people’s energy and send them looking for other types of work. At a time when organisations are looking for new ways to build high-performance teams, perhaps they should be considering a more family approach to business that emphasises trust and values, creating a workplace culture that celebrates each other’s personalities, personal milestones and individual achievements. Like any great family, they are never going to be perfect, but establishing foundations of trust and appreciation injects a team with a type of motivation that money can’t buy. But colleagues, if you’re reading this, I honestly wouldn’t mind a Bugatti for my birthday either, after all, it’s the thought that counts.

To learn more about your colleagues beyond their CVs, visit our brand new ‘Learning and Development’ page and discover how we can nurture and improve your team’s ongoing development and future success.

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