Year-end, the sweetest time for corporate functions, dinner&dance parties, and pre-Christmas events. The organisers are buzzing; the reminders are out, the number of attendees looks promising, the venue is aware of special dietary restrictions. You, as a manager, have been informed that everything is under control.
Before you put your dancing shoes on though, there is one crucial issue to address, and it could not be more timely: company event etiquette. As they say, better safe than sorry! Let’s start with an easy one.
1. Be there. And be on time
Pretty simple, right? It is, however, rather common for people to ‘forget’ to attend. Well, don’t. Just don’t. Your team is expecting you to show up, no matter what. Not doing that is interpreted as belittling the efforts to put together the event and it will not be forgotten. Always show that you care. Oh, and yes: showing up when the event is already ongoing is also a no-no.
2. Be nice
Ok, you are not feeling in the mood to party, or you wish you could be somewhere else, but still, don’t forget that someone has put a lot of effort into organising the event. As a manager, it should matter to you. Make sure you converse amicably with your colleagues. Don’t fake it, be in the moment.
3. Don’t exaggerate with the drinking
To break the ice and to have a good time, alcoholic beverages are the perfect ally. However, you have to understand when enough is enough. Alternate your wine or your cocktails with ample servings of water and eat the snacks. That way, you won’t make a fool out of yourself, or end up in a street fight, or worse. Use your common sense, be classy. Remember the etiquette.
4. Don’t even think about hitting on your colleague
In your career, you might have personally experienced or observed a colleague coming to work the next day after something inappropriate had happened with a colleague at a company event. Awkward to say the least, right? Now that you are in a leading position, you cannot afford to go down that road. It could not only weaken the relationship with your team, but it could also undermine your career. Gossip can be quite dangerous. If there is a mutual interest, keep it out of company gatherings, invite your colleague for dinner another night. Try to resist your temptations.
5. Your team, your colleagues, are not necessarily your friends
Keep it professional. Steer clear of political or religious discussions. Keep the conversation going on topics such as family, (but not on your recent divorce that ended up tragically), holiday plans, (but not to show off by telling about your next trip to Bora Bora), the weather (always safe). Share about exciting and relatable experiences, try to make it fun for everyone.
6. If you have to make a speech, be brief
The last thing your employees want is to listen to an hour-long speech at a party. Thank everyone for organising the event, and encourage the attendees to have a good time. Compliment on the venue, the food, the atmosphere, show your gratitude. That’s is it.
7. Put your phone away
For two reasons: one, you can check it later. Two, it shows tact towards your coworkers. They should be free to enjoy their evening, without fearing any repercussions that include compromising pictures. However, the same night or the next day, you should post a few lines about the successful evening you experienced together. Everyone will appreciate.
8. Taking a ‘plus one’ to the event
If you are allowed to bring someone with you, please do give some background information to your guest before the event. Who will be there, what she or he can or cannot talk about, what is appropriate to do? While it might sound obvious, sharing about some details beforehand might save you from many uncomfortable situations.
9. Don’t talk about work all night
They see you every day. Save your work topics to the office. If you need to talk about an urgent matter to someone, do it quickly and do it privately. In any case, think twice and make time for work-related discussions another day. Networking is important too, and now it’s time to celebrate!
10. Different setting, but it’s still business
As a manager, be inspired by the way your coworkers behave when they are out of their office environment. The casual setting can give you new insights about your colleagues. A few drinks can open up the most introverted colleague, who feels relaxed enough to talk about an idea he didn’t get the chance to share about in the office. Don’t miss the opportunity to follow on those leads!