Like so many accidental managers, Santa is absolutely brilliant at many aspects of his “day job”.  
Or in this case – his “one day a year” job. 
He gets the job done – you can always rely on Santa to get the job done on time, and to the highest standards. He might only have one night to deliver all the presents, but he makes sure at the start of the night that he has everything he needs, and he gets his head down and gets on with the job, and doesn’t give up until all the presents have been delivered before the children wake up on Christmas morning. 
He never lets a customer down – whatever the customer asks for, Santa delivers, on time every time. Bicycle, Xbox or dolls house, it will be there, in perfect condition, on Christmas morning. 
He always looks the part – you can rely on him to be well turned out on every occasion, in full uniform and instantly recognisable as Santa. 
But there are definitely 7 signs Santa is an accidental manager 
1. He’s stressed 
Sometimes you can’t see stress building up because someone is outwardly quite jolly and cheerful. But the signs are there if you know where to look. Eating and drinking too much unhealthy food and alcohol, particularly when you are pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline, is a classic indicator of someone under stress. And he might say he doesn’t have time to talk to children while he is delivering presents, but when someone who is normally quite extroverted and cheerful becomes introverted and stops interacting with others, that’s another sign they have taken too much on. 
2. He’s not good at giving feedback  
No-one knows if they are on the naughty or nice list until Christmas morning. And it’s too late by then to improve your behaviour or performance during the year. You might say everyone should know the rules, but they only know the rules if they have received an effective briefing about the rules, and ideally had a written copy given to them. When did you last receive a set of rules from Santa?  
And feedback needs to be nuanced – no-one is naughty all the time, just as no-one is nice all the time (present company excepted of course!) Some more detailed information about what specific behaviours were considered “nice” will help people to know what to do more of, while being told quickly and specifically when you have been “naughty” reduces the chances of it happening again. 
3. He avoids conflict and doesn’t deal well with bullying 
There’s been name-calling going on for a long time within the reindeer team. One member of the team has been laughed at and victimised because of an immutable trait, and Santa seems to have ignored the situation. He only took action when it escalated to the point that one poor reindeer was ostracised from the group, and not allowed to join in with the rest of the team.  
But instead of following a fair procedure and making sure the bullies were formally warned about their behaviour, Santa avoided conflict by giving his favourite reindeer pole position in the team on Christmas Eve. While he might have avoided a scene this time, he has really only papered over the cracks, and this could come back to haunt him in future years. 
4. He isn't great at delegating  
He sends out his elves at the beginning of December to sit on shelves in houses across the land to check if children are being naughty or nice. But the elves clearly haven’t been briefed on Santa’s disciplinary rules, so they get up to all sorts of mischief while they are away. And Santa doesn’t appear to have any way of monitoring what they are doing, nor does he seem to use any formal sanctions against those elves who are clearly breaking the rules.  
And Santa seems to have completely overlooked his duty to take reasonable care of his elves’ health and safety, which is why we see elves hanging out of Christmas trees without proper safety equipment, or floating in fish tanks, or eating things they shouldn’t. Santa might want to think about a remote working policy for next year, so that all the elves are very clear on what is expected of them. 
5. He doesn’t take calculated risks  
He knows what has worked in the past and keeps repeating it rather than looking for new and possibly more efficient and effective ways of working. Santa hasn’t changed his recruitment process for many years, and clearly isn't monitoring the diversity of his workforce. He can’t see beyond elves as toymakers and reindeer as sleigh-pullers. But imagine the potential for improving productivity or innovation if, for example, he tried to recruit pixies or imps to help out during the year? 
6. He uses shortcuts and unorthodox work methods 
It’s unlikely there is a current risk assessment in place for descending into houses via the chimney. Taking shortcuts to get the job done more quickly can be a sign of stress, overwork, or poor judgment, particularly where there might be health and safety implications. So many blocked up chimneys these days – just how does Santa do it? 
7. No Contingency Planning  
What happens when Santa doesn’t want to do the job any more? Or if he is poorly one year and can't do the job? Has he identified a successor and put a training plan in place? Do you think he has systemised the job and put written instructions in place so that anyone could pick up his role and run with it in an emergency? Has he updated his job description and thought hard about the skills, knowledge and experience needed to do his job? 
Because the trouble with believing you are irreplaceable is that when you aren't there any more, neither is your business.  
Find out more here about how how I coach accidental managers - just like Santa - to get back in control of their teams, their time and their sanity
Wishing you a very happy Christmas, and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.  
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