When picking a gift for someone it is normally assumed that you know the recipient – they could be a partner, a family member or a close friend. Sometimes, though, you’ll be asked or tasked with buying a present for someone you may not know as well.
And quite often this will happen to be a leaving present for a work colleague. Choosing a gift like this can be rather difficult. Even if you feel as though you have a good, professional, working relationship with them this does not always equate to actually knowing them.
So, a colleague is leaving work and you’ve been asked to buy the leaving present or you’ve elected to get them something. How do you approach this ‘shopping challenge?’
What Makes the Perfect Leaving Gift?
Firstly, you need to decide on the type of present. Will you get them a work related present or a more personal gift? Obviously buying them a leaving present which is related to their work life is substantially easier than buying them a personal gift – especially if you don’t know them very well.
If you are going to buy them a work related present consider not what they do now – in the current job which you know them to do – but rather what it is they are going on to do.
Too often people have been given leaving presents which are of no use in their future career but would have been handy to have had during their time working with you!
Consider their new job carefully and think about what they would need; what you would need if you were moving into that position. This type of leaving present can be quite clinical, it can come across as quite ‘thoughtless’ because of the perceived ease of finding something to ensure that it is somehow related to them – maybe in their favourite colour or from a favoured brand.
For example, maybe their move is into senior management and you feel an executive diary or organiser would be useful. Instead of getting them something ‘off the shelf’, select their favourite colour and personalise it with initials or a message – a thoughtful yet useful leaving present.
If you decide to opt for choosing a leaving present which is more personal then it’s no good just aimlessly wandering around the nearest shopping centre, going into every shop that looks remotely relevant to the person you’re buying for and trusting your luck that you’ll see something appropriate.
This may work but it’ll take far too long and, frankly, there is a very real chance of having some form of breakdown during the process. It is then, far better to take a moment and write down a few bullet points about what you know about the person in question.
Anything you have come to know from them, or others, regarding their life outside of work – family, interests, hobbies, activities or just snippets of information from general conversation. With these bullet points you should start to be able to build up a more concise picture of their ‘out of work life’ and find a suitable gift.
There is a balance to strike from whichever avenue you opt to buy the leaving the present, personal or work. A leaving gift should be thoughtful, sincere and meaningful. Whatever someone’s experience during their time in work, the right leaving gift can mean the world to them and it should be something that they can look upon with fondness – not with disdain.