Santa hatAll year long, Santa watches over the children of the world, taking notes on their behavior, their growth, and the effort they’re investing in trying ever so hard to be good. Nobody knows exactly how he gets this job done, but the outcome is clear: the good receive presents, the bad receive stockings full of coal, and both get to end the holiday with a valuable lesson in the books and a clear plan for the year ahead.

If you’re an experienced HR pro, this whole scenario might sound familiar…Is it possible that Santa Clause is actually an all-seeing HR manager in the giant workplace otherwise known as childhood? Maybe. Or maybe we’ve had too much eggnog. But in either case, HR pros have a lot to learn from Santa’s methods. Here are a few of the most important take-aways.

1. Santa never stops paying attention. He doesn’t just form rushed opinions and snap judgments two weeks before toy season. He watches and takes careful, fair and accurate notes all year long. This doesn’t change just because his “employees” scramble to bring out their best behavior during the final countdown.

2. Santa knows the difference between high performance and high growth. Bad children who make an effort to sweeten up during the year sometimes deserve as much praise—or even more—than good children who haven’t changed much from last year to the present.

3. Santa understands that effort should be meaningfully rewarded. He offers praise and approval that are worth working for, not just meaningless lip service. Like Santa, great HR managers know that a strong review should be backed by appropriate raises and bonus compensation.

4. Santa leaves children with a clear performance approval plan that can guide them during the year ahead. Actually, no he doesn’t. But effective HR managers do. After the celebration is over, the work doesn’t end—it begins.

5. Santa understands the value of a strong performance management platform. Or at least, we assume he does. After all, Santa does have a list and he checks it twice. But in a world where HR is a year-round gig, a paper list just won’t cut it. If Santa’s list is ever eaten by reindeer or if Mrs. Claus nudges him into the 21st century, chances are he would be using emPerform to set, track, and align performance goals and automate his methods.

Santa sounds like the perfect HR manager right? Maybe not. We can’t help but feel like HR might have some things to teach good old Saint Nick and those lessons would revolve around timeliness. Sure, Santa does a great job, but only once a year. What about the 364 days in between Christmas? We are not proposing a year-round Christmas bash (although we wouldn’t object), but maybe Santa should drop some lines throughout the year and provide feedback and coaching on an ongoing basis so everyone involved is crystal clear on expectations and can remedy bottlenecks more quickly. HR definitely knows the value of that!

If you’re in the mood to automate your ‘list’ this year, check out emPerform – talent management software guaranteed to bring loads of cheer.