The biggest mistake an employee can make is to think of a holiday party as anything other than another “day at the office.” If you wouldn’t show up at the office in the attire you’re thinking of wearing to the party (even though it may a bit more dressy than usual) don’t wear it. If you wouldn’t say it to your boss at the office, don’t say it at the party.
The holiday party is your opportunity to have fun, get to know others better, thank others for their contributions and have informal exposure to the senior leaders and the executive team at your organization. And yes, you’re allowed to have a little fun in the process, but be sure to remain grounded in reality.
To ensure your success and a great time . . .
· Choose a simple, non-revealing black dress or suit with great shoes and bag for women and a simple holiday touch such as a red tie for men. The holiday party is not a time to make a fashion statement (or any statement for that matter).
· Practice your best business manners and executive presence. Holiday parties are where we in HR learn a great deal about your potential for future assignments with great responsibilities.
· Don’t stay connected with a single group. Spend a few minutes touching base with those with whom you have worked with and for – use the time to thank them for their contributions to your year and development and move on.
· Stay out of pictures except those professionally taken. Posing with a group makes you part of the group and the pictures will definitely circulate – if not sooner, then later . . . right after your big promotion.
· He or she who drinks more than two drinks is certain to lose credibility. Make a decision to nurse a drink while you circulate. If you would like to refrain from drinking, grab a soda with lime and no explanation is necessary but if needed, try, “Oh, yeah, I decided to start my health kick early this year and not wait for January 1.” Or, “I’m a designated driver.” Or, “I still want to tuck the kids in when I get home.”
· Talk to your team about your expectations for their behavior also. Give them this article and coach them on professional behavior.
· Don’t assume that everyone celebrates the same holiday as you. A great conversation topic to use with multiple groups is, “How do you celebrate this time of year? Do you have any special plans for the month?” Use the party as an opportunity to learn about your co-workers.
· It’s OK to talk about personal life. A good rule of thumb is to ask twice as many questions as you give answers to. Use the time to better know and understand your co-workers, not to gain their understanding into your life or personal issues.
· Come early in the evening and leave early. Make plans for a great evening that just begins with a stop at the holiday party. Make the rounds, thank the boss and head out for a date with your spouse or select group of friends. After all, you’re out and about, looking great, already have a sitter, etc. Enjoy the night but split the evening.
· Lastly, be assured that the holiday party is another chapter in your ongoing job interview. In today’s challenging times, the core competencies of great decision making, executive presence, dealing with ambiguity, trustworthiness, and inclusivity are more important than ever. View the party as one more opportunity to show off your fluency in these areas.
And lest you think I’m a prude, I’m actually a very fun party girl and very successful businesswoman – separate but equal.
Remember, Cy rocks and you rock.
Lead on my friend.