How To Behave At Company Events

How To Behave At Company Events

workethic

By Joe Issid
Monster Contributing Writer





I’m not going to lie: I have experienced some less than proud moments involving a deadly combination of cocktails, co-workers and spirited games of Rock Band. While it is all in good fun and a great way to blow off some steam, I have often felt uneasy returning to the office following a night of reverie with my colleagues. While your time away from the office should be entirely yours, you still need to be careful about how you behave around those with whom you share your professional life. And this is especially true when it comes to both formal and informal office outings. You have worked incredibly hard to gain the trust and respect of your peers that it would be a shame to compromise that by behaving poorly outside of the office. Here are some guidelines that can help.
 
Formal or informal?
The difference between a formal and informal office outing is usually determined by the time of the event and by who is paying. If your boss has invited the entire team out for lunch on a workday, you should assume that the restaurant is a virtual extension of the office.  As you are eating on company time (and dime), you should perform exactly as you would in the office. On the other hand, if your boss has arranged an informal Happy Hour gathering after working hours, you are free to behave more casually. Keep in mind, however, that just because you are “off the clock” so to speak, you should still want to maintain a friendly and cordial rapport.
 
Do I need to attend?
If you are invited to an optional work event, you need to fully appreciate the fact that it is not mandatory. Ultimately, you are the only who can determine the value of attending. In many cases, it can be extremely beneficial to interact with your co-workers and bosses in a social setting and to see how they interact with one another. However, do not feel pressured to attend every single event for fear that you may be labeled as ‘uncommitted’. Every decision you make has an opportunity cost (the next best alternative forsaken) so be sure that you are attending these events for the right reasons.
 
Is it OK to drink?
If alcohol is served at the event, feel free to imbibe. But there are degrees to which should indulge. If you are attending a company-sponsored softball game in the early morning, it is entirely inappropriate to guzzle half a dozen beers and try to start a team sing-along. On the other hand, if you are attending your company’s annual open bar Christmas party, feel free to let your hair down a little. This is a good opportunity to interact with your peers in a social setting; your company is (likely) spending a lot of money to allow you to enjoy yourself to you should try to take advantage of the relaxed atmosphere.
 
Competition
Throughout my career, I have played on countless company-sponsored sports teams. Athletics are a great way to build team chemistry and to (literally) place members of a company on a level playing field. I have played soccer alongside my CEO and we both have grimaced when our Executive VP let in a weak goal. It is all in good fun and builds great camaraderie. But, more often than not, I have witnessed people get carried away and allowed their competitive spirits to boil over. Admittedly, playing on an office soccer team is a voluntary exercise and games typically take place outside of office hours. But it is just bad for your reputation if you are unable to keep yourself composed during a friendly game. It is also especially bad if you are throwing a sideline tantrum with your employer’s logo displayed across your chest. You need to always remember that you may not solely be representing yourself.
 
Travel
It may seem difficult to appreciate, but business travel requires you to wear your professional persona at all times. You are representing your company’s image and its best interests when you are on the road so it is incumbent upon you to behave as such. A seemingly innocuous event such as being impolite to hotel staff can leave a far-reaching negative impression on both you and your company. For all intents and purposes, you are a spokesperson for your company and your focus should be on expounding its virtues.

Some people dislike the feeling of being "owned" by their employers and do little to involve themselves in anything more than is required of them. And this is perfectly acceptable as long as you are performing your work. However it can be beneficial to partake in voluntary outings (sponsored or not) as it provides and additional outlet to grow both your professional and social life. But always keep in mind that there is an acceptable level of conduct that is expected -no matter the setting.