Management Tactic #46: The Easter Basket

When I was about 11 years old, my family piled into our minivan and took a trip down to Florida. It was spring break, and we were going to Disney World.

We stayed with my aunt and uncle in Florida for a few days over the Easter weekend. I remember being surprised at how little clothing women wore to church near the beach. Women didn’t dress like that at church in Virginia.

A typical Easter morning in the Stegmaier household involved hunting all over the house for your Easter basket, which was filled to the brim with candy and treats and gifts. This Easter was different, however. There was no treasure hunt. There was only a little candy. And only a tiny gift or two.

I was 11. And I was disappointed.

My parents most have noticed the expression on my face, and they asked what was wrong. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something like:

“Well, I just thought that Easter was supposed to be special.”

I also might have said, “Is this it?” But I hope not.

Then my parents grew stern and pointed out the obvious: They were taking us to Disney World. And to Epcot! That was the present. It couldn’t even fit into the basket it was so big!

But it was too late. Little Jamey had already shown that he was a little brat who didn’t appreciate his parents’ generosity. And it stung, right away. Stung me and my parents.

Whenever Easter rolls around, I think about that day, that moment. This year I realized that there’s a leadership/management/marketing lesson to be learned from Jamey the Brat:

People don’t always realize all the gifts that you give them. So sometimes you need to make everything as obvious as possible.

Basically, put everything in the basket.

If my parents had put tickets to Disney World in the basket, I would have understood that it was part of the Easter package. That it was a huge present, bigger than any previous Easter.

A real life example where putting everything in the basket can be helpful: A few weeks ago, I received an estimate from a web designer regarding a website. There was no mention on the estimate about polling current users and administrators of the site, so I asked if she could add that onto the estimate.

“Oh,” she said. “The comes standard, so I didn’t put it on the estimate. But I guess I should.”

She most definitely should. That way when I decide to accept the proposal or not, I can be reminded of the robust level of service the website is receiving.

Sometimes stating the obvious and being completely transparent about what you offer can be a really good thing. Try it out. This Easter, remind the people in your life know how full their baskets are.

7 Responses to “Management Tactic #46: The Easter Basket”

  1. Red says:

    Spoiled little Red did the same thing. His grandparents always had a he-man or transformer toy for him when they got together for dinner every week. So the one week when he was ~ 8, and there was no toy, “you don’t love me!!! Was I bad?!?”

    Managing expectations is a HUGE part of any relationship (professional or personal), as it is difficult to achieve an expectation you don’t know about. But having an enumerated contract of what is and isn’t expected out of each party can strain any relationship. Sometimes it is necessary, buy for the most part, we tend to figure it out as we go.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Red, that’s a great example. It’s funny how as kids (and as adults), if a pattern of giving or behavior changes, we attribute it to something we did or how the other person feels about us. I think this is particularly tough in romantic relationships. It’s tough to sustain every little cutesy thing you do as a couple, but if you stop, then the other person may wonder if your feelings for them have changed. I don’t think that means that couples shouldn’t do cutesy little things, but I think it helps if those habits change on a regular basis so that the absence of one is just as normal as the addition of a new one.

  2. EmilyRVA says:

    I really like this entry. I like it because it reminds me of the similar things I did as a kid that now make me feel guilty, but I also really like how you translated it into how we can use that as adults. It’s definitely give me something to keep in mind at my job, when I just assume people know already.

    It reminds me a little of Boyfriend’s 12yo nephew, whose grandmother (not Boyfriend’s mom) gave him $40 last time she saw him. She does this b/c she only sees him 3-4 times a year. He asked other grandma (Boyfriend’s mom, who he sees every week at least) why SHE never gave them $40. She told him that she takes him to movies (where she buys popcorn, candy and drinks in addition to the tickets) and out to eat several times a month, which ends up costing her well over $40. When she asked which he’d rather have, he said the $40, presumably because that’s tangible to him. He can see that. He knows exactly what the value of those 2 $20 bills is. He has no idea what it costs his grandma to do everything else. I think he’s going to start getting $40 and have to pay for the other stuff on his own as a lesson…and Boyfriend’s mom will save quite a bit of money.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Emily–That’s such a great example about your boyfriend’s nephew! And I actually like the idea that he’ll have to use the $40 to pay for his own movies. Kids probably have no idea how much movies and popcorn cost, so if you give them to money to spend, they have to make adult decisions about how to maximize their fun while staying within their funds. The lesson will only work if the grandmother doesn’t relent when the kid inevitably runs out of money early.

    • ms says:

      I wish Grandma had put more emphasis on the time she spent with the boy and not the money she spent. But actually I am guessing Grandma did emphasize the memories but the child heard money. Hard to control what someone ‘hears’ — how they hear the words spoken.

      And oh by the way — I don’t remember Jamey’s fateful 11 year old Easter. Generally, I remember how the bunny hid the Easter basket in all sorts of places and sometimes Jamey had to rely on ‘help’ to find his. He was not too happy those times.

      • Jamey Stegmaier says:

        Mom–Good point about time versus money. The child probably hears something different than what the Grandma says.

        There were times when I couldn’t find the basket? I don’t remember that at all.

        • ms says:

          Memory is definitely personal. No 2 people have the same memory of the same event. But that does not mean the one memory ‘ranks’ over the other memory. No competition here.

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