Last Minute Office Gifts 2021

By Maren Perry, Founder and President, Arden Coaching

As we move into a hybrid work environment, where you may or may not get to celebrate this season with your colleagues, we offer you our annual gift-giving guide to the books we’re reading this year. These books are great for colleagues in digital or hard-copy format.

As to gift-giving 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 give whether you’re in person or virtual.

Here are some of our favorite workplace books this year:

How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. A powerful combination of memoir and explanation of racism in its structural elements. Illuminating the systemic biases and offering us a path forward. For the reader on your list who wants to be moved and challenged (and appropriately so)!

Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals by Heidi Grant Halvorsen. This book is not new, but it’s brilliant.  Columbia University professor explaining the differences between the mindsets of those who reach their goals and those who don’t. There’s a reason the forward to this book is written by….

Mindset by Carol Dweck. Growth mindset is the whole game. Read how and it serves you in general and particularly in navigating uncertainty.

The Motive by Patrick Lencioni. This book distinguishes those who lead to gain reward and those who lead from a place of responsibility. As with all of Lencioni’s work: simple yet hugely impactful idea, keen insight, easy to read.

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. The subtitle says it all: “Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way You Lead Forever.” This is a simple to read book laid out over seven basic questions you can practice. Practical, concise, specific.  

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”  

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. Racism isn’t just something “bad people” do. This book helps us understand how behaviors such as silence are complicitous, and helps us understand how to engage more productively.

The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman: Aimed at women, but useful for all, this addresses the nagging self-doubt faced by many. Know someone who wants to crack the code on coming out of their shell? This is the book!

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!

Make it personal:

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 are 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! Email or call us at [email protected] or 646.684.3777. We’d love to add your recommendations to our bookshelf!  Maybe we’ll feature your suggestion in 2022!

Maren Perry, Arden Coaching, executive coach, office gifts, holiday office gifts, executive gifts, giving at work, holiday giving at work, holiday gift books, business books for holidays, work gift giving etiquette