It is Friday afternoon and the entire gang is going out for happy hour. Do you go along or take a rain check and get another hour’s worth of work in before the end of the day?
You do not want to lose your credibility as the leader, yet you do not want to be seen as a party-pooper. Just what are the rules for participating when you are the boss?
Your role when you are out of the office might be tricky, so here are a few quick guidelines that will help you enjoy your time out and maintain your professionalism at the same time.
If the office is heading out for happy hour, you should go, too. A lot of the bonding activity within an organization is made at the bar versus the boardroom, so even if you do not drink, go along for the camaraderie.
2. Stay professional.
Always remember that you are still the leader, so set the standard for behavior. Even though it is after hours and alcohol is likely involved, your office happy hour is still a business function. Have fun but do not let the good times roll away from you.
Maintain your professionalism. Carry your office code of professionalism over to happy hour. Do not flirt with co-workers, use bathroom humor, or gossip about someone not present. If you are drinking, be careful that the alcohol does not loosen your tongue to where you are saying things that are inappropriate or could be misconstrued. In other words, be your best self.
3. Drink responsibly.
You are not going to the bar to get intoxicated, so sip rather than guzzle your drink. That way you can make one or two drinks last a long time. Even better, if you do not want to drink, fake it. Tonic water with a lime makes a pretty good visual substitute for a gin and tonic. This is not the time to let it all hang out with “shots for all.”
Along this same line, do not push alcohol on others. If someone chooses not to drink, help defend their choice. Do not ask questions or make them feel guilty. Help others drink responsibly too. If you see someone overindulging, step in or offer to call a cab or drive them home.
4. Eat before you go.
Eating even a little something before you go out to happy hour yields two good results. First, having food in your stomach will mitigate the effects of alcohol. Second, you would not be tempted to drink more, scarf down the bar snacks or order unhealthy foods just because you are hungry. Use this time to talk and network instead of eating.
Related: 7 ways to go from a boss to a leader
5. Avoid therapy sessions.
Alcohol can reduce a person’s inhibitions. If someone begins to “let it all hang out,” steer them in another conversational direction. Do not try to be their therapist and solve all their problems. If they complain about a business issue, ask them to table it until you are back in the office.
6. Don’t be the last to leave.
Make a graceful exit earlier rather than later in the evening. This allows your co-workers to relax once the boss is gone and sends a responsible message. Wish everyone a good evening and then exit gracefully.
With these simple guidelines, after-hours events should be enjoyable and they will provide excellent opportunities to get to know your co-workers on a more personal level.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.
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