One of the unforeseen challenges of the season is the annual holiday office party. This event can be one of the most dangerous nights of the year, as how you behave in social settings is just as much a part of your personal brand as in a serious company environment. With proper planning, it can be a night that adds to your company’s culture. Remember, the purpose of the party is to raise morale and celebrate the your employee’s achievements.
Here are 10 keys for success.
1. No “wild card” guests. Don't bring a guest except for your spouse or a significant other. The office party is a night where people who get all dressed up and drink and dance together can become unpredictable. Guest behavior can’t be controlled.
2. Dress up. This is still an office function, so make it clear to everyone what the appropriate attire for the evening will be. Revealing or flashy night club clothes never send the right message. Remember, this is not Halloween.
3. Eat first, and drink little later. Eat before you attend so if you want an alcoholic drink, you remain sober. Then switch to drinking club soda or soft drinks early in the evening. While it may feel fun to cut loose and tell some of your employees what you “really think” of them, this is not the right night to do it.
4. Mind your mouth. Even though you're in a casual environment, there is still no place for foul language, bad jokes or office gossip. Don't forget to watch reruns of The Office the week before to show how you should not act at the party.
5. Give a toast, but not a state of the union. This is a good opportunity to thank all the employees and brag about their achievements. Don’t give a long drawn out speech that no one wants to listen to (especially the guests). Make your positive comments about the staff, not about you.
6. No contact sports. While this is a more social environment, the “no contact” rules still apply. This is not a singles bar. You do not want any of your physical actions on or off the dance floor to be misinterpreted.
7. Step outside your circle. Use this opportunity to talk with people you do not know well. Try to hang with employees you rarely get a chance to talk to. Keep the conversation upbeat and don’t try to tackle any difficult issues or announce any big decisions.
8. Don't sing karaoke even if there is a live band. Everyone has a video camera on their phone so whatever you do tonight will be on YouTube or Facebook by morning. Your karaoke performance of "Hotel California" by the Eagles doesn’t seem as fun the next day. Let someone else be "the life of the party."
9. Come early and leave early. Never be the last one to leave the party. The later the party gets, the more of an opportunity for things to happen that you will regret.
10. Have fun. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either. If you follow these simple rules, you can still relax and have fun. It's a party, remember?
What rules to office parties do you live by?