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LightsOn Book by Claire Knowles"Here's a quick peek at the Table of Contents" of this exciting new book! Women in Leadership...focus your attention to Chapter 10 especially!

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To Go? Or, Not to Go?….The Office Holiday Party

Written by Claire Knowles on . Posted in Choice

It’s an age-old story….one that is written about each holiday season!  Yes, that Office holiday party can be an enjoyable boost to your career…or it can be a destructive career bomb!  You don’t want to be part of the fall-out.

What makes it so intriguing? The holiday office party wouldn’t create such a buzz if it didn’t have the potential to cripple one’s career.  So, know what is at stake!  Think it through…naughty or nice!  It is those “missteps” that happen that office gossips love to remember.  The holiday party event presents the wonder-fodder for who will prove to be the biggest fool (this year)?  So here are some Do’s and Don’ts!

Do…Keep a level-headed approach…look at it as an opportunity to develop and increase your office networks to further streamline and improve workplace relationships across all levels of the organization.  Maturity is the watchword!

Do…Recognize that many businesses no longer have office holiday parties for economic  and liability reasons.  There are numerous warnings put out by legal groups and HR Departments about the legal implications and dangers of holiday parties.  While there are fewer and fewer gatherings, note that if there is a scheduled office party, do go!  Recognize it for the networking opportunity it presents.  Respect that your employer has invested time, money and energy in this gathering.  It can provide you with good exposure, networking opportunities and important visibility…if you play it smart.

    If your company doesn’t have a scheduled office party, consider an alternative, holiday gathering…like a Happy Hour…organized by someone in the office, with an extended offering of inclusion to all—thus making it fully optional and non-obligatory—Dutch treat, buy-your-own; self-liable.  And play it smart there too.

Don’t… overindulge.  Holiday party missteps can frequently be traced to misuse of alcohol—over-imbibing, which in turn, makes you the subject of gossip, the target of ridicule and can potentially lead to the end of your job.  Boozing and schmoozing often leads to smooching…and then to shenanigans.  Innocent “nice” can quickly turn “naughty.”

Do….Remember that you are being watched.  Everyone is a subordinate to someone at the office gathering—remember that business fact of life. Someone is watching you and your behavior. The holiday office party is your chance to remind your supervisory chain and your coworkers why you were hired—not what you’re suited for after hours…and after a few drinks.  If you consider how hard you worked at presenting the best image possible during your original hiring interview, and how much you really wanted the job/career, you can better put this post-hire experience into perspective. Its still business!

Do…Arrive on time or even 10 minutes early. Punctuality is important…and the least stressful time to introduce yourself to your senior staff is before festivities get started. Remember these leaders make the decisions—key decisions about your future—be smart and don’t monopolize them.  Again, maturity is the watchword.

Do…Realize that this is a business event. It may be called a holiday party but it is still not a party-party.  It is a business event—albeit it is one that is taking place in an enjoyable venue and with a more relaxed ambience. So wear proper attire.  The quirky Christmas tree sweater with the blinking lights or the Santa Baby outfit will undoubtedly be remembered but most likely not in a good way.

Do…Meet new people…but don’t talk all business-business….this is a chance for you to grow your network…to meet people you may not always work with…finding out about peoples lives and interests outside of work…and this can help you to strengthen those relationships, connections and goodwill.  Make sure you have your conversation starters ready. Be professional.

Don’t… Troll for affection at the company event.  This is not the place for flirting. It only erodes reputation, can damage your work relationships, hurt your career. Consider cooling your hormones; you don’t want to have to deal with sexual harassment potentialities.  And always remember that women have keen intuitiveness—including higher ups’ spouses/significant others.  You are being watched!

Don’t… Hook up. Holiday party hook ups are typically anything but a good idea….too much fun, too much booze, too loose tongues, too much skin, too little sense. The next day you’re left with a hangover, a tarnished reputation and even a job on the line.  You don’t want the tale-tellers to be repeating  or exaggerating what you and so and so did…(made worse if you’ve forgotten you’re married). So if you’re crushing on somebody, don’t use the holiday party as your excuse to make a move. The function is, at is core, a business gathering. Hook up with your desired hot flame…another time.  As wisely written in an HR column a few years ago: The special person you are going home with after the party…should probably be your cab driver!

Do…Consider the company newsletter…Be totally aware of pictures being taken. You don’t want to be captured in a compromised position, doing the lowest of the limbos or have two cocktail glasses in your hand….you don’t want to be captured inappropriately…so be aware….because those pics will live long after the company newsletter meets the web.  Prepare for a calm and collected pose.

Don’t…Call in sick the next day…because, definitely, no one will believe you!Do… Come out looking like a winner…because you went in as a winner and maintained your maturity throughout.


Lights On!

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