Company holiday parties? Mind your P’s and Q’s
The typical post from HR around this time of year would discuss why we call the Christmas Parties the “Holiday Parties”. How we need to be sensitive to different cultures, blah blah blah. As a minority and I do appreciate the sentiment, but per the below, I will be the Grinch that Stole Christmas. I have a bit to say around this topic so I am going to break this up into two posts. This post won’t just talk about “What” you should avoid. More importantly “Why”, and “How” your manager and HR department view these holidays. I see plenty of lists that say “how not to act”. What I don’t see is WHY this behavior is an indicator of future behavior and how it relates to your career and the business. See this classic Holiday FAIL
How do managers and HR really view Holiday parties?
Each year, I hear from both HR and Execs colleagues, how someone at a holiday party did one thing or another that will stay with them for the rest of their career. The most common complaint from HR and Senior Managers is when employees don’t show up. The company went through a lot of effort to put on a party to say “thank you” to the employees. Don’t give them the finger by not showing up. The sad thing is employees won’t even know that their holiday party behavior is what is holding them back. Everyone in HR will. Trust me, the only guy that will remember you for performing the Heimlich maneuver to save someone’s life is the life you saved. Everyone else will remember the drunks, those getting sick in the restrooms, and the passed out.
What do we remember about holiday parties?
We think that getting drunk is OK at the holiday party because no one is fired the next day. It isn’t OK. Trust me. It is a straw on the camel’s back and these straws add up. When you are up for promotion, guess what will enter the discussion. In this economy, you don’t want any extra straws. In this economy, it takes fewer straws to break the back. Memorable Holiday Party behavior isn’t just a straw, it is a bale. You could have had a Million Dollar 4th quarter, but you will be remembered for dancing on the table long after that commission is donated to charity. The stories that people remember and talk about YEARS later are not how you closed Acme Publishing, but how you got drunk and embarrassed yourself. Think about your past holiday parties.
CLM = Career Limiting Move
1. Most people advise you to NOT drink. Most companies provide alcohol. If you are going to drink, try to eat something so you don’t arrive on an empty stomach. You may see an open bar and Top Shelf alcohol which is being provided “on the house”. I see the lewd and obnoxious behavior. It is usually an hour or so before dinner is actually served and this isn’t Friday night where your wallet paces your drinking. This is a celebration, and someone else is paying. Pace yourself. The first job out of school usually means first experience with an “open bar”. Happens every year.
Your behavior answers the question: Can you be trusted with the company credit card to entertain clients?
2. Avoid complaints about your job or your manager. Alcohol always loosens the tongue and it is easy to bitch about something once the party is started and others also see the glass half full. With unemployment in the double digits, be glad you have a job. You never know who will be around the corner.
Bitching about your manager is a sin only second to bitching about your customer. If you are bitching about one, you are probably bitching about the other.
3. Wear something decent. Wear what is appropriate for the occasion. Make sure it is clean and presentable. If jeans are appropriate, wear some clean jeans. Don’t wear your “I am going to walk my hem off”, jeans to the party. Not everyone understands the distressed, ripped, $350.00 Japanese Selvedge attitude. There will be people who don’t get that fashion statement. There will be others who think you can’t be trusted with a budget. They are usually the ones who have influence on your career.
Behavior indicates: If you aren’t able to dress appropriately when asked, do you follow directions? Will you represent the company to the outside appropriately?
4. Single man or woman? Keep the obvious flirting to a minimum. Be remembered for your intellect. not for your game.
Don’t hate the players hate the game. Once you are labeled as less than a mind and more than a flirt at a holiday party, you might as well quit. Even if it isn’t true, everyone listens to gossip.
5. Don’t drive home Drunk. Get a ride, call an Uber or sleep on the floor. If you work in HR, provide vouchers.
More ways to limit your career in Part 2 of this post here:
Post ScriptHRNasty works for a privately held start-up alongside a small and dedicated group of geeks, hipsters, and technical bad asses’s that have created a very unique culture. Our Christmas party is to say “thank you” to not just them for their hard work, but to their spouses for the patience and flexibility. We will serve alcohol and plenty of it. Fun has a different definition for everyone, and we don’t just respect that, we embrace it. My hope is that this is the best party folks will attend all year-long and we let everyone know multiple times that nothing you say or do will affect your career on this night. Together we are building a culture of “work harder than you ever have and play harder than you ever have”, where the management team will blow off steam at a pace that will be hard to follow. I came to this company to work in a place where people can concentrate on their work and not what others think, where there are no rules, only guidelines. Meritocracy plain and simple.
To the folks I have the fortune to work with. Look for me out on the deck that night. I will have plenty of Cigars for anyone interested, and hope we relax, talk shop, and dream about 2013. The only rule we will ask folks to be conscious of is item number 5 above.
See you at the after party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.
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