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Performance Management and the office Christmas party

December 1, 2016



Christmas is looming and the party season is nearly here; so what is the extent of the problem for the managers if staff let their hair down a little too much at the office party?


It is said colleagues spend more time with each other than they do with their friends and family; for those less thoughtful of the consequences, they perhaps drink more than they normally would, with the result they behave more like they are in the pub with their mates than with their colleagues and managers. The immediacy and highly visual nature of social media only serve to exacerbate the problem. The incongruity between being outside work but still on view muddies the waters still further.


When the office party becomes a management issue


Pre-empting temptation

If you are concerned there may be an issue (because there will be free alcohol, for example) you might consider a proactive pre-party briefing to ensure people are clear about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. You could even ask people to make suggestions on how to ensure the party spirit doesn't lead to a post-party headache. A timely reminder that:


  • Not everyone drinks alcohol, and

  • Not everyone celebrates Christmas


whilst stating the obvious, may suffice. For example, you could send a general email clarifying the organisation's expectations (that the party is a social event but with boundaries, and clarifying the consequences of overstepping the mark, perhaps). It's surprising how many assumptions fly around when it comes to events outside of the day-to-day norm; assumptions about what is acceptable can be even more wide-ranging than the instruction 'smart casual' on an invitation.


Post-party performance blues



Dealing with people who have overstepped the mark can be difficult after the event. Emotions may be running high, and could range from embarrassment to guilt, fear or shame to 'It was a party, I was just having fun' at the opposite end of the spectrum. As a manager, it will be your call as to whether to make it formal or file it under 'harmless fun' and let it go.


For more information on how we help people deal with difficult performance issues, please call or email us  - 020 7183 0081 info@management-learning.co.uk

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