Management Matters –Holiday Office Celebration Hazards

The seasonal mine field of the workplace holiday celebration has arrived. While some adore them and others loathe them, the end-of-year celebration is yet another professional opportunity that is filled with potential. The question is: can you leverage the potential for good or evil!? Is it an opportunity for you or will the result be a missed chance, or possibly a disaster?

Some thoughts:

  • No matter how much you try to make the workplace holiday celebration an out-of-work function, it isn’t! It is an extension of work. The boss is always the boss. The relationship does not change just because the location may change.
  • Party clothes are not the same as office attire, but you are still an employee, manager, or owner no matter what you are wearing. Don’t go too far in any direction: low, high, or tight.
  • Conversations that are lubricated with alcohol or too much informality and relaxation can get you in the same trouble as if you were at work, so watch your words. While there are probably judges who are lenient when it comes to sexist, racist, or harassing comments at a workplace holiday celebration, an offended employee can still bring a lawsuit. The rules that apply during the day apply in the evening as well.
  • Liquor makes people more relaxed. People who are more relaxed tend to say things they might not ordinarily say. Confidences, company secrets, and non-public information can be shared because people are more comfortable. Know where the line is drawn between comfortable and TOO comfortable.
  • Use this occasion as the opportunity it has the potential to be. Rather than spend time with the people you talk to every day, the more casual atmosphere of celebration provides the chance to talk with people you want to connect with but may not usually have the opportunity to do so. Create some conversation starters before the event and walk over to talk with the people you want to know better (or people you’d like to know YOU better).

The end of year workplace holiday celebration is a chance to enjoy the holidays with the folks you spend a great deal of time with all year long. It doesn’t have to be a test of your stamina or the story everyone is talking about next week.

Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management consulting practice that specializes in developing human resources in the areas of leadership and management, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 30 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at

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