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Were You Naughty or Nice in 2014?

Posted on 11.30.2014

By Amberly Dressler, Managing Editor

Anyone who has spent any amount of time on social media during the holidays is at least somewhat familiar with the holiday tradition, “The Elf on the Shelf.”

In a quick summary, parents place the elf in surprising locations (like in a silverware drawer) or in clever predicaments (like being trapped by Barbie dolls), while the “scout elf” serves as Santa’s eyes and ears at children’s homes around the world. And, if the number of Pinterest boards dedicated to “Elf on the Shelf ideas” is any indication, the ritual might be most fun for parents. Regardless, Santa Claus’s little spy is meant to keep kids on track to make his “nice” list.

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Aside from some clever social media campaigns or e-commerce upsell opportunities (of course the elf has accessories, such as reindeers, game day jerseys, ice skates, etc.), there is more that Internet professionals can take from Elf on the Shelf than meets the eye.

Enter: accountability. Managers on the ground floor of a business, per say, generally know which employees are working and which are not (being nice or naughty). They also have plenty of resources at their disposal to measure productivity, track hours and even gauge employee sentiment. Enterprises that are actively analyzing and optimizing their products, services and operations want individuals, however, who internalize the brand’s successes and failures, and look to improve on a personal level and for the company on the whole, not those only meeting minimal quotas, short-term goals or are watching the clock. In other words, the most successful team members – whether assistants or presidents – are those who are holding themselves accountable. They are their own Elf on the Shelf, watching and analyzing their own moves. They are looking for productivity hacks – only checking email twice a day, using productivity apps like Evernote or IFTTT, or tracking their own time and output with tools like DeskTime.

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Being self-motivated and personally accountable isn’t a line item on a balance sheet, but team members actively demonstrating these qualities are not only good for their enterprises, but are also likely influencing their peers to be too.

All Internet professionals can hold themselves more accountable and, in turn, kick themselves into high gear this New Year. Under their own watchful eye, they can start spending more time analyzing the numbers they report in robotic fashion each month; they can set and follow up with personal goals; they can avoid negativity and be a more motivating colleague; they can generate new ideas and not hold on to the status quo; they can be more in-tune with what is happening in their respective industry; they can mentor a younger team member; they can take breaks to refresh. The list of improvements each of us can make is long and unique to each individual, but what is important is to keep at it – whatever “it” may be.

At the end of the day, there are those whose jobs it is to make sure each team member is accountable for the time they put in and the work they give out. Just like Santa has his ways, today’s managers have the tools – many of which have existed for quite some time – to monitor emails, website visits, attendance and more, but there is nobody more powerful and more motivating than each of us as individuals. Children may be “good” for the Elf on the Shelf until the holidays are past or the novelty wears off, but a strong foundation of self-motivation and personal accountability lasts all year long – for both children and adults.

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