Want to be really Happy in 2013? Here’s a Christmas Wish List

"You'd better watch outYou'd better not cry"

“You’d better watch out
You’d better not cry”

Dear Santa, a quick ‘heads up’ to keep you in the loop. I’ve been an exceptionally good boy this year and offer the following as evidence:

Busy Busy: Not competing in the ‘race to the bottom’ consulting jobs that everyone seems willing to do at any price. We worked on a range of interesting, tricky projects where the answers were not easy. I love being busy (it’s a mental health thing Santa, and that’s as much as I’m prepared to say at this point).

Keep Learning: I’ve learned a ton of consulting stuff and poached great ideas from working with the other consultants in Tandem. It’s humbling to see how other people view the world differently and to be reminded that there is no ‘one best way’ to improve organizations.

Research Focused: The Transformation Roadmap, a book on managing change, was published this year and the Tandem crew put a ton of new stuff up on the website, making it content rich. The secret to success if to find a load of smart people and work alongside them. I’ve cracked the code. Yes!

Payback Time: Now Santa, as you know, there’s no free lunch. If it doesn’t come across as too arrogant, I want 3 things this Christmas. Here’s my wish list…

1. Be Happy: To know when I’m happy. Not laugh out loud happy (well, not all the time), but the ability to stop moaning about Mickey Mouse stuff (like playing bad golf, as if anybody cares). Live in the moment and stop worrying about what might happen in the future. Become more like Nadine Stair who said: “If I had my life to live over, I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones”. Can you organize that?

2. Total Control: Give up on the idea that I’m 100% ‘in control’ of my kids. They have to live their own life, even if it’s not the wonderfully, successful life I’d mentally envisaged. Becoming an adult means making decisions for themselves – including driving down some cul-de-sacs. I find it difficult to know when to push them to be the very best they can be while stopping short of undermining their confidence. Perhaps I will remind my 3 kids of the poem on adoption by Fleur Heylinger: ‘Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart, but in it’. I know it’s a stretch to get that one across. Can you help me with this?

3. External Focus: Focus on more stuff outside the immediate family. Yes, playing music is great (Sheryl Cole was wicked busy last year; is it any wonder I haven’t been discovered yet?). In 2013 I want to extend the horizon and work on more pro bono projects. It’s time to call an official halt to my role as an armchair socialist. Turns out that supporting noble causes in the not-for-profit world is the ultimate selfish act. Now, who would have thought that?

Santa, I know a lot of this stuff is down to me but thanks for listening. You’re awesome. Having written it down, I’m starting to feel better already!


PS: To all non North Pole residents who follow this blog, a huge Thank You for keeping in touch. Have a safe and wonderfully happy Christmas. Enjoy the time out with your family and making your own New Years resolutions. Regardless of what happened in 2012, next year is full of possibility.

PPS: Lighter Note: I know I’m quite emotional at this time of year, and this great story (courtesy of Kevin Griffin) about managing the Christmas party touched me deeply. Dedicated to those long-suffering staff in HR Departments everywhere…. (send this to your HR Director immediately).

Company Memo 1
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 1, 2012
RE: Gala Christmas Party

I’m happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks! We’ll have a small band playing traditional carols… feel free to sing along. And don’t be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00 PM.

Exchanges of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over €10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone’s pockets.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.


Company Memo 2
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 2, 2012
RE: Gala Holiday Party

In no way was yesterday’s memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However, from now on, we’re calling it our ‘Holiday Party.’ The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians and to those still celebrating Reconciliation Day. There will be no Christmas tree and no Christmas carols will be sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment.

Happy Holidays to you and your family,

Company Memo 3
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 3, 2012
RE: Holiday Party

Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table, you didn’t sign your name. I’m happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, ‘AA Only’, you wouldn’t be anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to handle this? Anybody?

And sorry, but forget about the gift exchange, no gifts are allowed since the union members feel that €10.00 is too much money in the current economic climate and the executives believe <€10.00 is cheesy.

Happy now?


Company Memo 4
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
To: All Employees
DATE: October 4, 2012
RE: Generic Holiday Party

What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees’ beliefs. Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party or else package everything for you to take home in a little foil doggy baggy. Will that work?

Meanwhile, I’ve arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get the table closest to the restrooms. Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit with Gay men (each group will have their own table). Yes, I can also formally confirm that there will be flower arrangement for the Gay men’s table.

To the person asking permission to cross dress, the Grill House asks that no cross-dressing be allowed, apparently because of concerns about confusion in the restrooms. We will have booster seats for short people and low-fat food will be available for those on a diet. I am sorry to report that we cannot control the amount of salt used in the food. The Grill House suggests that people with high blood pressure taste a bite first. There will be fresh ‘low sugar’ fruits as dessert for diabetics, but the chef said he cannot supply ‘no sugar’ desserts. Sorry!

Did I miss anything?


Company Memo 5
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 5, 2012
RE: The F***ing Holiday Party

I’ve had it with you vegetarians!!! We’re going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the ‘grill of death’ as you so quaintly put it, and you’ll get your stupid salad bar, including organic tomatoes. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They scream when you slice them. I’ve heard them scream. I’m hearing them scream right NOW! The rest of you weirdoes can kiss my ass. Drive drunk and die!


Company Memo 6
FROM: Toni Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director
DATE: October 6, 2012
RE: Patty Lewis & Holiday Party

I’m sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery and we will  continue to forward your cards to her. In the meantime, management has decided to cancel the Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay. Will this be OK?

Happy Holidays!


Know someone who’d benefit from reading this blog? Forward it on or ask them to contact paul@tandemconsulting.ie and we will add them to the mailing list. If you’d like to have a discussion about management or organization development, give me a call on 087 2439019.


About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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