Don’t Be That Guy or That Girl!
You can enjoy the party without being the party.
Have you had your company ‘Holiday’ party yet? It is that time of year for company parties and year-end sales events. Events that leaders spend lots of money and time planning with the intent to show their employees how much they appreciate their hard work as well as recognize their top performers.
Festivities aside, you can bet your bottom dollar many of them will ask that famous question the next morning, “Hey did you see that guy or girl last night at the company event?” That question can have many answers and some may sound like, “Oh yeah, everybody did when his drunk self got on the microphone and slurred profanity for everybody to hear. Did you happen to see that girl; she was so drunk she was saying all kinds of inappropriate things to her boss”.
Here is one thing I can guarantee-his or her boss remembers it and the boss’s boss remembers it and they are for sure talking about it, but it is not a funny story at the coffee station; no they are talking to HR or legal on how they are going to handle the situation. Great careers have been ended at company events by someone being that guy or that girl.
It was year 2000.
I, fortunately have not been that guy or girl (as far as I remember), but unfortunately I have been the boss of a few in my career. In 2000 our area had our annual planning session and awards events spanning over three days. This event was hosted by my boss, the Area Vice President, and all of my fellow Directors, Managers and sales reps were in attendance with an estimated 300 employees total.
It was the beginning of the first night and so far we have made it through the day without any major issues-though 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 of us Managers were in a room with my boss having a discussion on how the event was going and reviewing the next day’s agenda. 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 its not one of my people”. I felt confident of this because I had, had a talk with my team prior to this event on how everybody needed to ‘behave’. We discussed dress code, good and bad topics to discuss in a work/social environment and I was adamant that under no circumstance should you be the person that closes the bar down. Since I had just had this conversation about the do’s and don’ts I knew it could not have been one of my people.
I have been wrong a lot in my life and that time was no different. The Manager looked at me and said, “Actually it is your employee.” I instructed the ‘ailing’ employee's immediate supervisor to have one of the other female employees get her safely to her room- immediately. Now this was not a terminating offense, but it was a “that girl” event. Needless to say she was embarrassed the remainder of the event. I bet she now remembers the advice we gave her regarding corporate events (one could hope). This example was not as extreme as those that are out there (or that may be running through your mind right now). Keep in mind; these events cannot only cost you your reputation, but your job.
Simple company or business event rules:
- Use the 2 drink max rule or if you have a low tolerance then soda is probably what you want.
- Remember no matter your surroundings (a hotel, a restaurant, etc.) you are still at work.
- Don’t be the last one at the bar, because you probably broke the 1st and 2nd rule.
- Have fun.
What is a company to do?
Many leaders are doing fewer events and some are eliminating them all together to help avoid the human resource and legal issues that happen so often during these events. I believe that is a costly mistake that can cost companies in morale. Keep doing the events, and focus on educating the teams on the appropriate behavior for the event. Know that at every event there will be that guy or that girl and you can deal with them, but the good news is there are those remaining great employees talking about that guy and how thankful they are to be working 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 year and Merry Christmas to everybody!
Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group, and author of the best-selling Playbook Series, is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former Executive Director, life insurance sales professional and business owner of several small businesses, Nathan travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. Nathan has worked with thousands of leaders in creating a coaching culture. Get your copy of Nathan Jamail’s most recent book released by Penguin Publishers, “The Leadership Playbook” of the Best Selling Playbook series.