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Enjoy the Party, Don't Be the Party!

Are your employees prepared to safely navigate holiday parties?

It is the time year for company parties and year-end sales events. Leaders spend lots of money and time planning and putting together these events as a way to show their employees how much they appreciate their hard work and recognize their top performers. But you can bet many of them will have the hangover of that famous question the next morning, “Hey did you see that guy last night at the company event?” That question can elicit many answers and some may sound like, “Oh yeah, he got on the microphone and slurred profanity for everybody to hear. Or, “Did you see that girl? She was so drunk; she was saying all kinds of inappropriate things to her boss.”

I can guarantee his or her boss remembers it and their boss’ boss remembers it and they are for sure talking about it, but not as a funny story at the coffee maker. Chances are good they are talking to HR or legal on how they are going to handle the situation. Many great careers have been ended at company events by someone who thinks he or she is the life of the party.

I have been the boss in this scenario a few times in my career.

Appropriate Behavior

In 2000, our area had our annual planning session and awards event. This event was hosted by my boss, the area vice president, and all of my fellow directors and all of our managers and sales reps were in attendance along with an estimated 300 employees. It was the first night and until then, we’d made it through the first day without any major incidences, but it was still early.

Later in the evening after dinner, many of the employees went to the bar in the hotel to continue celebrating and having fun with their peers from across the country. A few us were in a room with my boss, having a discussion on how the event was going and reviewing the next day’s activities, when another manager walked in and said, “One of the employees is throwing up in the middle of the bar.”

With confidence I said, “I know it’s not one of my people.” I was confident because I had a talk with my team prior to this event about how everyone needed to act. We discussed dress code and good and bad topics to discuss in public. They knew that under no circumstances were they to be the people who saw the bartender leave for the night. Since I just had this conversation about the do’s and don’ts, I knew it could not have been one of my people.

Well, I have been wrong a lot in my life and tonight was no different. The manager then looked at me and said, “Actually, it is your employee.” I instructed her immediate supervisor to aks one of the other female employees to escort her safely to her room.
This was not a terminating offense, but it was a “that girl” event. Needless to say, she was embarrassed for the remainder of the event. I bet she remembers the advice we gave her regarding corporate events. Here are a few simple company or business event rules:

  1. Use the two-drink maximum rule or, if you have low tolerance, then soda probably is what you should drink.
  2. Remember no matter your surroundings, you are at work.
  3. Don’t be the last one at the bar, because that would mean you probably broke the first and second rules.
  4. Have fun.
  5. Make sure someone else is “that” guy or girl.

Take it from the boss of that guy or girl, the story never has good ending when you are that person.

What Should An Employer Do?

Many leaders are doing fewer events and some are eliminating them altogether to help avoid the human resource and legal issues that happen so often during these events. This is a mistake that can and will cost the company good employees and good morale.

Keep doing the events, and focus on educating your teams on the appropriate behavior ahead of time. Know at every event there will be that guy or that girl and you can deal with them. The good news is that there are hundreds of great employees talking about the fact they work for a company that shows how much they appreciate them.

Events can be expensive and a pain for many leaders, but they are cheap compared to unmotivated and unhappy employees and clients. Have a great end of the year and happy holidays to everybody!

About the author:Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group, is author of the The Sales Leaders Playbook, as well as a radio host on CNN 1190. He is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former executive for Fortune 500 companies and the owner of several small businesses, Jamail travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. For more information, visit or contact 972-377-0030.

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