Yikes!! Did you forget someone in the office for your annual gift giving?!  

Everyone does it at least once per holiday season…fully intending to get a gift for someone in the office (maybe our boss’s administrative assistant, maybe your new counterpart in Marketing) but then it slips our mind and we’re desperately considering a generic gift card to try to rectify the oversight?! Stop!!

It’s become an Arden tradition to offer a list of our favorite safe-for-office-gifting books each year — just in time to rescue you for the holidays. So once again…here we are!  

First, we recommend you stock up and prepare ahead: pick up a couple of these on your lunch break, wrap them up beautifully, put them in your desk with a post-it to remind you what you wrapped (don’t forget the blank cards that you can fill in at the last minute!) — and when your new Regional Director arrives for the first time in three months — you’ll be prepared and look great when you pull this (there the whole time!) gift from your desk drawer!

As to etiquette, we suggest:

  • Give from the heart, not from obligation.
  • Give a GIFT, not a lesson: DON’T give a gift as a hint, as in “I think you need to be a better listener, so here’s a book on listening.” Instead, give them something they may be curious about based on your conversations with them.
  • Give (overly) appropriate gifts, rather than risk offending someone. This includes not giving alcohol, and probably not food…Certainly nothing political or religious.
  • DON’T give a gift to curry favor. (see first bullet)
  • The thoughtfulness of the item is more important that the item itself. Better to give a thoughtfully chosen token than an extravagant-but-generic item.

For these reasons, and just because they’re generally wonderful, we love giving BOOKS! Sure, they may not be the most original of items, but chosen well, they can express a lot of thought and care, be incredibly valuable to the recipient far beyond the investment from the giver, form the basis of interesting conversations to come, and are easy to purchase (and to stash in your desk for that last minute gift for the colleague you accidentally left off your list!)

Here are some of our favorite workplace books this year

The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni. Wonderful outline of the values of successful team members, how to identify what type of team player you are (as well as those on your team), and how you can maximize the contribution (and minimize the weaknesses) of various types.  Give to everyone on your team!

Fearless Feedback by Glenn, Handscomb, Kosterlitz, Marron, Ross, Seigworth and Signorelli.  Co-authored by our very own Kelly Ross this book explores the process of coaching leaders in a 360 process.

Emotional Equations by Chip Conley.  A nice blend of emotional intelligence meets engineering brain. Formulas like “Innovation = Creativity minus Cynicism.”  

Immunity to Change by Kegan and Leahy. This one makes it to our list every year for a reason. A dense and valuable read for anyone leading a substantial change within their organization (or themselves). We use this work as the basis for many Leadership Off-sites. Not a particularly breezy read — but worth it!  Great examples and case studies.

Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois Frankel. It’s been around for over ten years, and unfortunately, still applicable to many. Complete with a quiz at the beginning to determine which sections to focus on, this is for the woman who wants to advance but isn’t coming across as executive material. Especially good for the younger ones on your list.  

Quick Emotional Intelligence Activities for Busy Managers by Adele B. Lynn. Pretty much what it says it is – quick hits. These activities will not transform the EI level on your team forever, but the activities will get things rolling, plus it’s good for sparking the imagination to help you think deeper about what might work with your team.

Getting Things Done by David Allen. Got someone on the list always struggling with their inbox, or with how to organize their desk or projects? This is the guide to getting your deck clear and your communications in order!

Executive Presence by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. Ever wonder what the heck Executive Presence actually is and how to break it into components you can do something about?  You’re in luck!

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. A completely practical guide to anyone wondering “what’s next for me?!” Whether it’s at work or in the rest of life, these Stanford Professors teach this material in one of the most popular classes on campus and you’ll see why. Easy to read, grasp and apply – great exercises!

Remember, with any of these, the thoughtful personal note you provide along with the book will be the true gift and go toward establishing the connection between you, the recipient, and the book. If you’ve read a book you’re gifting and enjoyed it, say why. If you’ve not read it but heard it was good, tell them why you think they might enjoy it.

Give from the heart… and you can’t go wrong.

Please send us your recommendations! We’d love to add your recommendations to our bookshelf! Maybe we’ll feature your suggestion in 2020!