The festive period is now upon us. After several years consigned to the doldrums by diminished, recession ravaged budgets, I have it on good authority that this year, with the green shoots of recovery the good old office party is back in full force.
With an optimistic outlook about an upturn, many organisations are going back to hosting their annual office Christmas knees-up. A simple Google search on the topic produces almost one million results in 57 seconds would testify to this hearsay. The physical reminders are all around us. Tacky earrings, seasonal ties and notices about Secret Santa gifts.
For most companies the lavish pre-2007 budget, with no expense spared events at restaurants or hotels are still history. I’ve only ever read about the ones featuring ice sculptures, flowing Veuve Clicquot and cabaret artists that people have actually heard of. My experiences, especially in my early career, have been more centred around parties characterised by Micawber like frugality: a few mince pies thrown together in the staff cafeteria, accompanied by a solitary glass of something singularly and poisonously unpleasant. My first ever boss invited me for Christmas lunch, ordered two cheese and onion sandwiches, before knocking back five double G & Ts and then going on to eat my leftover onion to take away the smell of the gin.
But for a great number, these renewed office festivities are a return to the dread that they faced prior to the economic crisis. This is synonymous with being forced to make small talk with the boss (or worse still his/her partner) eating limp canapés and drinking inferior plonk with co-workers they would prefer to spend less time with, not more.
However, there are always the super office party goers who regardless of the economic climate subscribe to the theory that if the drinks are on the house they are most definitely going to make the most of it. These are the ones whose drunken aberrations (which they don’t remember happening and have no wish to recall … ever) provide the high-octane fuel of office gossip, well after the half-year results have been published.
For the savvy networker they can represent a great and unique opportunity to raise internal visibility and make strategic alliances. On what other occasion is the whole company brought together under the one roof, at the same time?
By that I don’t mean chasing the co-worker who figures in their sexual fantasies around the photo copy machine with a sprig of mistletoe. Or slurring to a senior executive that a box of cereal contains more strategic elements than the latest sales plan. That is a true story. Nor obsequiously trying to ingratiate themselves with executive Board Members who wouldn’t recognise them in a line up thirty minutes later.
The office party can be a great opportunity to look into your own organisation to simply identify the people whom it would be great and useful to know. How can you best help each other and work together?
Research them. Introduce yourself and tell them exactly that!
Have a great time!