When Gifts Say More Written by Robert F. Abbott
What's a gift mean? If you're like me, you probably focus on giving and getting.
But, have you thought of gifts as a medium, a channel, for communication? In a book called The Gift, French anthropologist Marcel Mauss argues that gifts are universally used to create and manage relationships.
For those of us interested in business communication, idea of managing work relationships with gifts brings several interesting issues to our attention.
The most obvious notion is that in sending gifts, we communicate our appreciation for what someone did. It signals awareness that recipient did something exemplary. Usually, communication is implicit, perhaps even subtle, even though gift may be tangible.
In a workplace context, bonuses are often seen as gifts, a discretionary act on part of a manager to show appreciation. It is in manager's power to reward or not reward, and hence gifting effect.
Stock options, on other hand, represent something different; there is no managerial discretion in their value, but there may be discretion involved in giving them.
And don't we all consider type and value of a gift as an indicator of strength of relationship? I think we've all been through those debates about how much we should spend when a staff member gets married, has a baby, retires, or quits.
In each of these examples, it's not hard to see gifts as a tool for strategically managing relationships. We can also see gifts as a medium (like a newsletter) for exchanging messages.
Middle-Aged Managers, the Forgotten Digital DivideWritten by Mary Carroll
The digital divide is defined by role computers play within widening social gaps in our society, as condition of one group having an advantage over another group in regard to computers, technology skills and Internet access.
This is usually thought of as being a divide between white middle class and minority communities; but there is another often overlooked class of nonusers, middle-aged corporate manager. As computer skills play an increasingly important role in building careers, many have not acquired necessary technological skills needed to keep up.
Being computer illiterate in todayís high-tech business world is almost indistinguishable from being functionally illiterate. And itís difficult to believe there are successful people in business world who do not know how to use a computer. Unfortunately, these corporate managers are mistaken in belief that they can avoid computers and remain successful in workplace.
In late 1990ís, I was hired by a successful direct sales catalog company to design their sales catalogs. The Director of Advertising was in his mid 50ís and had, over years, had a successful career. He was in his late 40ís when desktop computers first came into workplace and he had no interest in learning a new technology. He assumed, that because he had never needed computer technology to succeed in past that he didnít need it now.
At first he escaped learning computers by joking about new technology, and later he relied on his employees to write his emails, schedules, spreadsheets etc. Eventually, he became only company executive who didnít have a computer on his desk. In his stubbornness not to learn new technology, he had become a dinosaur.
He resisted and resented learning how to use a computer. At beginning of every year he made a resolution to get a computer and learn all about it; but he never followed through.
When he attempted to modify a computer file himself, he would hold mouse backwards. When he didnít get response he wanted, heíd slam mouse down hard on desk in frustration.