Office party

With the festive period right on our doorstep, several CEOs and business owners sometimes find themselves between a rock and a hard place when it comes to deciding whether they should attend the annual office party.

The dilemma arises from the fact that this is generally the one day in the year when staff members can let their hair down and have a good time. But how can they have a good time if their boss is standing right across them in the room?

Whether to attend is typically an internal discussion had by CEOs of large companies. For smaller and medium-sized firms, which make up the majority of businesses in Malta, the question tends to shift towards how long a CEO should be present for, and to what extent should they mingle with staff.

Here are five tips on how you can still retain your business-like composed self and, at the same time, be perceived by your team as fun.

1. Make an appearance, but don’t overstay your welcome

The most important trick when handling office parties is to not stay for the whole duration of the event. Instead, it is recommended that the boss joins the fun for a short while, speaks to everyone, has a drink or two, and then moves away and allows the rest of the team to have fun and let loose without feeling like they are being watched.

2. Make sure you speak to everyone at the party – your staff expects that

It is generally advisable for the CEO to speak to everyone at the staff party rather than just stick to the usual group of friends or directors. The office party is a chance for people to mix and mingle and leave their usual group of colleagues, and it is vital for the boss to lead by example.

3. Get to know your staff, over and above their role at work

Rather than stopping at the mundane “are you having fun?” phrase, try to make an effort to get to know the person behind the personnel. Take a genuine interest in their holiday plans, and their family traditions, and share some of yours too. People like to get to know the person behind the boss as well.

4. Leave office conversations for another day

Whatever it is you choose to converse about, leave office conversations and client follow-ups for another day. The office party is there to celebrate a year of hard work, and the best way to do it is to leave work out of it.

5. Have fun, but not too much fun

While it’s good to be perceived as fun by your team, it is never ideal to be seen as drunk or loud. Therefore, it is generally suggested that at office parties the boss stays away from the liquor bottle and from the dance floor (or the karaoke mic).

The next day could be quite uncomfortable unless you stick to these suggestions, not to mention that your team could start to look at you in a different way (and that is not necessarily a good thing).

There is a very fine line between being the “cool” boss and losing one’s reputation, therefore, even if you might be the one footing the bill, you are not expected to be the life of the Christmas party. At least not the one involving your staff.

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