While the office Christmas party is the time of the year when companies keep their promise of making work fun, the mix of Baby Boomers, Gen X and Y can create a formula for disaster for young up-and-comers.
Dominic Thurbon, leading authority on Gen Y from the Centre for Skills Development and a Gen Y himself, has 10 tips for his peers on how to make a Christmas party work for them. He lists them below:
1. Have a plan and make it work
There are two main objectives. One is to have a good time and celebrate – let’s not forget it is a party! The second is to meet people and network in a relaxed environment.
2. Work the room
Do it like you’re not working it at all. In organisations where senior management is dominated by Xers and Boomers, there can sometimes be unfair perceptions about younger people at work.
3. Warm into networking
Start with friends, then move to people in the extended network. During that ‘enough drinks to be loosened up but still coherent’ phase, that’s when you should look to talk with key people.
4. Small talk leaves a lasting impression
Making small talk is the key to good networking. The most important advice is to listen. Resist the tendency to speak rapidly and frenziedly. Listen closely and ask intelligent questions.
5. The rules still rule
Just because it is after hours or offsite, the regular rules still apply. You’re still an employee and you still have a boss. Trust that has taken years to build can be lost in seconds because of a single incident.
6. Tone it down
Gen Ys often think they have to be the life of the party, but they don’t. At a client party you obviously have to be on your best behaviour and to turn it down a notch further.
7. To drink or not to drink?
It should probably go without saying that you should avoid getting drunk. The tough reality for the office party is that there is so much pressure to drink that people wind up doing things they otherwise wouldn’t.
8. Getting yourself out of trouble
If you do find yourself drunkenly fusing Flashdance with MC Hammer, or stumbling into an uncomfortable insult, there are three simple steps for trying to recover: acknowledge, apologise and move on.
9. Don’t overdress to impress
The first consideration in what to wear is personal comfort. The second is the advertised dress code. If it says casual, go casual. If it says black tie, suck it up and sweat with the rest of the penguins.
10. Stay motivated at work through the Christmas party season
The best way is to acknowledge motivation is low and find ways of integrating fun activities into your workflow. Do something a little wacky each day but limit it to about ten minutes. That way you get it out of your system and can still get down to work.