Mackay: Every company ought to have a Santa Claus attitude

Do you believe in Santa Claus?

Whether you ever did -- or still do -- there are some things about the jolly old elf that wise businesses should consider emulating if they want to establish a year-round aura of goodwill. Santa has attributes that easily translate beyond the holidays. Some I think are worth noting:

Good reputation. You can't buy a good reputation; you must earn it. Santa has a positive reputation because he is a magnanimous soul who stands for goodness and generosity.

Nothing is more important than a good reputation in building a successful business. Stand for what is right, and you won't get knocked down.

Fun-loving. Santa's elves always look as if they are working very hard, yet loving their jobs. A fun workplace is more productive and attracts people and profits. Your company motto should be, "Thank God it's Monday." You should want your employees to look forward to coming to work.

Great memory for names. Santa never forgets a name. If you want people to know how much you care, show them how much you remember. The sweetest-sounding word in the English language is your name being said by someone else. There are many methods for remembering names, such as name association and repetition. It's an important skill to develop.

Creative gift giver. Santa's gifts relate to the recipient, not the giver. To do the job right, you have to know your customer as a living, breathing human being with likes, dislikes and interests. A knock-your-socks-off gift doesn't have to be expensive. A gift that shows you have paid attention and have taken a genuine personal interest in your customer says a lot more than a dollar sign.

Santa also understands the importance of rewards. I hate to say this to Santa, but Thanksgiving cards still pack a bigger punch than Christmas cards because they stand out from the crowd.

Good listener. If you remember sitting on Santa's lap, you probably also remember that he paid close attention to your requests. You can win more friends with your ears than with your mouth. People who feel like they're being listened to feel accepted and appreciated rather than isolated and rejected.

Humility. Santa doesn't take credit for all the happiness he spreads. Humility is becoming a lost art, yet it's not difficult to practice. It means you realize that others have been involved in your success.

Enthusiasm. How can Santa Claus continue to do the same job year after year? He's a pro. He gives it everything he's got. His focus and enthusiasm are obvious. He loves what he does.

Positive attitude. Santa promotes goodwill and good behavior wherever he goes. He encourages children to "be good for goodness' sake." A positive mind anticipates happiness, joy, health and success. If you get used to behaving in a positive way, you will form good habits. And your habits will help define the kind of person you are.

Loyalty. Santa has his elves, just like the Lone Ranger had Tonto. One of the first qualities I look for in employees and friends is loyalty.

Respects deadlines. If ever there was a job with deadline pressure, Santa has it. Getting the job done on time is essential in building trust and loyalty.

Good judge of character. A naughty or nice list isn't necessary for most businesses. But demanding that people in your organization act with complete professionalism and respect for your customers is not up for discussion.

Well-dressed. Say what you want, but Santa dresses for success!

Mackay's Moral: Happy and safe holidays to all!

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail harvey@mackay.com.

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