Christmas in August: How to Leverage Anticipation at Work

Christmas in August

As a child I remember clearly the painstaking agony of waiting for Christmas Day to arrive. A true child of the 1980’s, materialism was my middle name and Christmas gifts were my game(s). Of course in comparison to many of my peers’ parental units, my mother and father were quite strategic in their approach to gift allocation. My brother and I might receive a small item here or there over the course of the year, but the windfall clearly came at Christmas, and only then because it was Santa doing the buying. Much like the iconic Ralphie, the anticipation would begin to build just after Thanksgiving until it reached a fever pitch during a sleepless Christmas Eve. Then, in what seemed like an instant, it was over. And the long wait would begin again.

The Family Truckster from the 1983 movie Natio...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fast-forward approximately 30 years. In February, calls begin between my father, my brother, and myself making the necessary prearrangements for the annual summer vacation. Dates must be set, accommodations secured, transportation and logistics put in place. Every detail must be planned, right down to the appropriate tee times and the color scheme for the family photo. And, as August rolls around, I once again I feel the tinge of anticipation as it builds right up until we set sail in our very own Family Truckster. But of course, just as in the days of my youth, the moment I have been pining for slips through fingers all too quickly and I am left dreaming of the next family vacation.

A team of researchers in the Netherlands published a study where they examined the effects of vacations on Dutch participants’ happiness. But wait, aren’t European workers always on vacation? That is another topic for another blog. The researchers found that very few participants reported any increased happiness following their vacations, and for those lucky few, the boost of happiness only lasted about two weeks post vacation. However, the anticipation of the vacation that was yet to come boosted happiness for up to eight weeks prior to the actual event.

This study illustrates an important point, that, while not all that surprising, is often lost when companies try to increase worker morale, satisfaction, and even performance. Improvements in these areas are not the result of workers gaining the carrots that are dangled so carefully in front of them, but rather because of the anticipation or, in motivational jargon, the expectancy, that great effort and planning will lead to the attainment of these valuable outcomes. You see, much like vacations and Christmas mornings, the energy and excitement that occurs prior to reaching your destination disappears quickly once the ride is over.

So what then, are companies and managers to do if they wish to keep their workers satisfied and energized? First, as the Dutch so eloquently put it, “take more trips per year”. Employees need to be constantly striving in anticipation for some event or reward, but those events cannot be too far in the distance or the anticipation is lost. After all, it is a long time from December 26th 2011 to December 25th 2012 and the prospect of being good for such a long period is enough to take any child from giddy anticipation to helplessness and despair. Second, just as one event is passing we must have another goal in our sights. The “post-holiday blues” are in part due to the long dark winter months seen looming on the horizon. Some managers, in an effort to “give their employees some down time”, rob them of meaningful work. You don’t have to be a hard taskmaster, but you should always have meaningful milestones and rewards that employees are trying to reach. Third, equip employees with the belief that they CAN reach the destination. Anticipation exists because an individual truly believes that the outcome they are seeking will, in fact, come to pass. Sometimes this requires improving the self-efficacy of the individual along the way. Lastly, make sure the “vacation” doesn’t punish the employee. If you ever returned from vacation to find that you now have twice as much work as when you left, you know this can certainly temper excitement over the next vacation. Rewards must truly be desirable and not contaminated with adverse consequences.

So there you have it, the “keys” to leveraging anticipation at work. In case you were wondering I have just returned from a little vacation myself. My intent was to write this piece prior to leaving, but fortunately for me the anticipation was just too great.

 

 

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High Point Furniture Market : Fanshawe Blaine and Interiors from the Road Less Travelled

FanshaweBlaine Map Desk at High Point Furniture Market

For years I have collected maps to hang on my walls, fill my shelves and tuck in my weekend travel bags. My adventurous spirit has lead me on many journeys and I freely admit that I am drawn like a moth to a flame to the travelers design style, especially when I see vintage maps that speak to me in soft nautical colors.

While exploring the Antique and Design Center at Spring High Point Market, I was brought to a full stop by the eclectic antique collection of Amanda and Victoria of Fanshawe Blaine.

See for yourself why I was smitten by their incredible eye for the global travelers style. From FURNITURE, TRUNKS BOXES & TRUGS and ARCHITECTURAL & GARDEN elements to CURIOUS DISCOVERIES – I am in heaven!

 

John Strauss at High Point Market, Spring 2012

Linking Triad attended the Spring 2012 High Point Furniture Market. We met John Strauss through Twitter in 2011. We’re very impressed with his sustainable approach to furniture design. We think you will be as well.

John Strauss, furniture designer
http://www.straussfurniture.com/

100 For 100 Event at The Center For Visual Artists

Currently on display at the CVA Gallery. Piece is made entirely of cardboard.

When is the last time you have been Downtown to the Greensboro Cultural Center? I have to admit that as someone who is born and raised in Greensboro, I don’t take advantage of visiting the great art, music, retail, food and historical venues we have at our disposal Downtown as often as I should or as I would like to.

I will, however, be going to this:

On Friday, April 20, 2012 there is a great free event that will be featuring 100 different works from 100 different local artists held at The Center for Visual Artists on the 2nd floor of the Greensboro Cultural Center. Some of you may know the building better if I say that it is across from Center City Park and that Cafe Europa is connected to it.

Each artist has been given a 10×10″ canvas to work with and each piece will be offered for $100 with all proceeds going towards sustaining the Center for Visual Artists. Works are available first come, first serve so you may want to get there early to acquire your favorite. It may end up being my creation, as I was asked by Gallery Curator Kristy Thomas to contribute!

For more information about the Center for Visual Artists check out www.greensboroart.org.

What events have you enjoyed most at The Center For Visual Artists?

 

 

Visiting the Piedmont Triad

There are many reasons visitors come the the Piedmont-Triad.

 

High Point Market | The World’s Home for Home Furnishings

Wyndham Championship

Piedmont Triad International Airport

 

Why do you love visiting the Triad?

Taste Carolina Brings Flavorful Tours to the Triad

Who doesn’t love a great meal. Right?! Now, thanks to the folks at Taste Carolina, you can go behind the scenes with the Owners and Chefs of  some of North Carolina and the Triad’s tastiest places.

Choose from a variety of walking tours in DurhamChapel Hill/Carrboro, Downtown Raleigh, Hillsborough, Greensboro and Winston-Salem as well as Custom/Private Tours, The Whole Hog Barbecue Bus Tour and Cocktail Hour Tapas Crawls.

Meet the folks behind Taste Carolina and stay up to date on what they have planned!

It’s a safe bet if there is a foodie in your life, a gift certificate from Taste Carolina would hit the spot!

Learn more about Taste Carolina in this great article from The Triad Biz Blog and  while you’re at it – follow them on twitter and show them how much you like them on facebook. Tell them @linkingtriad sent you!

Have you been on a Taste Carolina walking tour? Share your favorite Triad experience!

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