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Life of the ‘office’ party: Managers’ most embarrassing holiday party gaffes revealed

Falling into a pool, sleeping under a table, fighting with the boss and screaming like a werewolf – scenes from a rough weekend or a corporate event? Unfortunately, for those involved, it’s the latter. A recent Robert Half survey of executives found these were just a few of managers’ worst moments at holiday parties.

Participants were asked about the most embarrassing thing they have seen or heard about a manager doing at a company holiday party. They reported bosses have:

  • Turned a dance contest into a brawl
  • Opened someone else’s gift
  • Thrown food
  • Slept under a table
  • Tried walking across a swimming pool and – not surprisingly – fell into it
  • Used obscene language
  • Taken inappropriate pictures in a photo booth
  • Broken an ankle while break dancing
  • Fought with a boss
  • Screamed like a werewolf
  • Announced a resignation

Poor etiquette also was a common theme. Survey respondents noted managers have:

  • Sat in a corner without interacting with anyone
  • Left within 10 minutes
  • Failed to show up
  • Discussed confidential company information
  • Talked negatively about coworkers

“Holiday and end-of-year parties are a chance for employers to recognize and celebrate their teams,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half. “As much as they may want to bond with staff or show a different side of their personalities, managers must maintain the same level of professionalism they expect of their employees.”

McDonald added a bad night can have longer-term consequences. “Word travels fast. When bosses embarrass themselves, they risk losing the respect of their teams, executives, and customers,” he said.

Office party pointers

Robert Half highlights what managers need to remember about holiday parties:

You’re still the boss. Show your lighter side, but remember employees will look to you as an example even outside of the office.

Don’t be a barfly. Never overindulge in alcohol. Many of the mishaps respondents witnessed came after someone had too much to drink.

Loose lips sink ships. It’s never appropriate to reveal confidential information about your company or coworkers. If you’re worried about not having enough to talk about, come up with a list of safe topics—weekend plans, movie reviews, food—before the event.

This is a good career opportunity. You may have the chance to speak with executives and others with whom you don’t normally interact. Have fun at the party, keeping in mind it’s also a time for you to expand your internal network and build your visibility.

Keep the focus on staff. Celebrate your team, and give them their moment. By ceding the spotlight, you’ll show how much you appreciate their contributions.

You need to go back to work the next day. A tabletop nap, alcohol-powered soliloquy or inappropriate dance routine may feel like a one-time blunder but you’ll need to face everyone as soon as you’re back in the office. In other words, don’t be that employee everyone is gossiping about the next morning.

Editor’s picks:

Model Notice: Alcohol consumption at practice party

Manage your medical office’s holiday party liability risks

7 tips to stay classy at the practice holiday party









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