The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

203: Surviving the Office Party: A Holiday Guide

November 28, 2023 John Neral Season 3
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
203: Surviving the Office Party: A Holiday Guide
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Feeling the holiday stress creeping in? We get it. The jingle bells, the mistletoe, the office parties - all while managing your work commitments and personal life. This is where we come in! This week, we take on the tricky task of balancing holiday cheer and work duties. We'll provide handy tips on setting boundaries for holiday events, juggling work and family commitments, and supporting junior colleagues who might be feeling overwhelmed by it all.

But that's not all. If you're dreading the office party or feeling the pressure to attend all the holiday events, we've got you covered. We dissect whether this pressure is self-imposed or from the higher-ups, provide strategies for attending these parties with a game plan, and discuss how to bow out gracefully if you need to. And for our virtual folks, we offer suggestions on inclusive activities and designing that perfect exit strategy. We wrap up with a thank you, reminding our listeners to engage with us on social media, leave your reviews, and tune in next week for more insights. And remember, our special digital course for mid-career professionals is always there to help you redefine your career path and worth. So join us, and let's navigate the holiday season stress-free, together!

Enrollment is open for John's new digital course, "From Career Crossroads to Career Clarity: A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding Your Sweet Spot at Mid-Career."

Click here to join the course. Enrollment is open until November 30, 2023 at 3:00 p..m. Eastern. 

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Speaker 1:

Hey there, have you heard the news? If you are stuck and unsure where your career is headed, I will help you build your mid-career GPS to whatever is next for you and your career in my new digital course from Career Crossroads to Career Clarity a step-by-step guide defining your sweet spot at mid-career. Feeling uncertain about what's next for you and your career is a natural part of your mid-career journey. But you don't want to stay stuck and you're probably questioning the value you provide to your current or future organization. I want to offer you that is one of the things holding you back from having the career you want. When you confidently know your career direction and value, you show up differently to every meeting, networking, conversation and interview. Do you want that? This is why I created my digital course, because I know everyone doesn't have the time or money to work with me individually. But this digital course is another way I am fulfilling my mission to help as many mid-career professionals as I can. Registration is now open through November 30th at 3 pm Eastern to sign up for my digital course and you will get access to the entire course on December 1st with a seven-day risk-free guarantee. Now I want you to know two things. One. This is the only time I am offering this course for the rest of the year, so you've got to get in now. And secondly, you can take advantage of a special Black Friday sale you do not want to miss. So to learn more, go to my website, johnnarrellcom, and click on the Digital Courses tab in the menu to learn more and save your seat. And you can also find a link to the course in the show notes or on my LinkedIn featured section. So I will see you in the course. And now let's talk about dealing with all of that holiday stress that is starting to come up. The sprint is on to the end of the year. Whether you work for a small company or major corporation, you will probably have to deal with some festive parties and holiday cheer. Well, depending on your work situation, you may not be feeling so cheerful or want to attend, but then you feel like I got to play the game in some way. In this episode, I'm going to help you navigate these holiday events and work stressors by giving you three quick tips to navigate these holidays more intentionally than ever. Let's get started. Hello, my friends, this is episode 203 of the Mid-Career GPS Podcast. I'm your host, john Narrell, I help mid-career professionals who feel stuck, undervalued and underutilized show up to find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four-step formula. When I was younger, there was a time in my career when I was looking forward to those holiday parties and celebrations where I worked. I was never one to get out of control at these events, because, after all, they are work events but I did enjoy the parties and getting an opportunity to socialize with coworkers. But I will tell you, if I were still working in corporate, honestly I think I would dread them right now. See, I find comfort and sanctity in my house and, as a dear friend of mine and I often joke, sitting on the couch in my fat pants after a stressful day can only be too comforting. But what do you do when you feel as if you have to go to these events or wonder if you should Wish you could see me doing the air quotes right now? Well, I'm gonna help you right now by giving you three tips to help you navigate these holiday parties. And as I share these tips with you, I want you to think about how these tips relate to your current situation, both at work and at home and where you can find the best solution for yourself. So the first tip is all about managing your work and family responsibilities. If you have children and they're running back and forth between their holiday events, sports programs, after school, winter or holiday concerts, church activities, whatever they might be, those things only compound your own schedule because of you needing to take care of your family. And, additionally, if you're taking care of your parents or having other family responsibilities as well, those things can only compound how much time you have. And while all of this is going on, you are still having to do your job, and your job has pressures and commitments and deadlines and responsibilities, and the one thing I know is that the last thing you want to do is make a mistake with any of that. So, given all of those things that you have before you, my first tip to help you is to set ground rules for how you want to show up. Now, in my show up six strategies, setting ground rules is the first one that I normally talk about. When you set ground rules, you know how to play, and when you know how to play, you move through making decisions with fearless confidence to do what you need to do so? What are your ground rules? Maybe you will attend the major holiday function at your company, but the small department gatherings you may have to pick and choose or not even attend at all. I remember in a previous organization where I was also traveling for work, this was definitely pre-pandemic, but there were holiday parties at satellite offices and holiday parties at the main offices, and so you want to be there because being visible and being seen is certainly important to career growth. But at the same time, you have to understand your bandwidth. If you don't have the energy or you are feeling burned out and you're sitting there going, honest to God, I can't deal with one more holiday party. That is a sign for you to check in and figure out are my ground rules serving me or do I need to set a different ground rule in order to determine how I'm gonna show up with these things? I do wanna offer one additional point here, and this is something that, especially if you are leading teams and you may be leading teams of younger or junior level professionals, I want you to listen really closely to this. Sometimes our younger colleagues can get caught up in all the excitement of the holiday parties, and if your holiday parties include things like alcohol or even an open bar. I wanna offer you that this is a time to have a conversation with them about what appropriate workplace party behavior looks like, and I would offer to do this from a place of looking out for their best interest, their safety. But also, I will tell you I have seen this across multiple places where I have worked. We know when some people have a few, too many drinks, defenses get down and sometimes their mouths can get a little loose and they may say things they may regret the next day. Or they may have said something to the boss or an executive at the company and all of a sudden they are in your office crying their eyes out, wondering if they have ruined their career there as a leader, as a colleague. I wanna offer you that this is an opportunity to have those conversations, if you feel compelled to, but also to simply remind your people that you work alongside of your team. Hey, when we go to this party, it's not just about me, it is about us. It is about what we do as a team and how we work together we do as a team and how we represent. What's the brand we wanna put forth? What do we want people to know about us when they leave that party and how we operate as a team, or what we do on the team? I really want you to think about what some of those conversations may look like and just decide what is best for you in those situations. But I have been on the other side of the desk where I have had junior level employees come to me and just be really embarrassed the day after, and it's never a good thing, right? It's never a good thing when, all of a sudden, your professional brand around the offices, you're the one that had too much to drink at the holiday party and were barfing in the trash, can? I'm not exaggerating on that one either. So keep that in mind, right? If you're leading a team, make sure to look out for your team as well. Okay, tip number two what do you do when you don't wanna go to the holiday party? You don't wanna be social, you don't wanna hang around with colleagues, you'd rather just go home, you don't like the venue, whatever those reasons are. Here's the thing I want you to keep in mind Identify the pressure that exists about going to those holiday gatherings, especially those work-related events. Here's what I mean by that when you check in and identify the pressure. I want you to be clear if the pressure is self-imposed or if the pressure is coming from your supervisor, your leadership, and what you want to do about that. I will offer you that. These are opportunities to network and be visible and, if your schedule allows, in some way, going to these events may be to your professional advantage. However, that doesn't mean you have to stay from beginning to end. Here are some of the things that I've done and I suggest to my clients to help them assess their own comfort level and reasons for going. One of them is go with a colleague, have somebody on the team who you really like, you trust, go with them, but set a timeframe. You set ground rules, like I talked about in the previous tip, and you say to them okay, look, we're going in and we're going to stay for 60, 90 minutes, two hours, whatever that may be. You are going to have each other's back at the event. Here's one of the things I have done with colleagues at these work events that I found to be really, really helpful have a code word. That code word is something that is only shared between the two of you. When you say that code word that reminds the other person that you're done, you're ready to go, you've had enough. Something happened, whatever that may be. Now, two of my favorite code words are rutabaga and volcano. Here's why I choose them. Those are typically words that are not often heard in conversations. It might be something like hey, I was over at the appetizers and they never have rutabaga at the holidays. You give a little laugh, right? That person on Whith is going to know okay, john's probably done. Or it might be something like wow, did you see Sheila in accounting? She was hot over something. It was like she was a volcano ready to explode. Whatever that is, pick the code word, I will tell you. It will absolutely make the night that much more fun because you know you've got that safety net in there. But it also gives you that way to exit. You never leave the event alone. You've got someone with you and you have built in that exit strategy. If you need and the think about Now if you decide you can't go, for whatever reason, there are certainly ways to gracefully decline those invitations and whenever possible, I would encourage you to do so over the phone or face to face if possible, but to simply say something like this I'd really like to attend this year, but I've got some family responsibilities and commitments. I'm juggling some multiple schedules right now and, honestly, while I'd love to attend, I just can't this year. But I want to sincerely thank you for the invitation, certainly look forward to next year's event or I certainly look forward to our next event and being able to attend. That way, then you've given a little bit of a reason or explanation as to why, even though you do not have to right, you don't have to give an explanation. You're just like I'm just not coming. But it gives you that way to gracefully decline, show your appreciation for the invite and then move on about your day. Now the last tip I want to give you is what do you do in situations when you are engaging in a virtual environment? Maybe you're hosting a holiday event for you and your team virtually, or you are including people virtually in the event. So these are some of the things that I've done with my virtual team members in the past, and they just make the events a little more structured, and I find that by having more structure, it makes them more enjoyable and meaningful. So one of the things is make sure you can get everybody involved, set the expectation ahead of time hey, I'm really glad you're coming here's the agenda for our event and have some kind of game or icebreaker that everybody can participate in. One of the things that I like doing and this taps into my game show piece is we would play some kind of version of match game. So if you know the game show, you're familiar with it. You may also be familiar with the board game Blank Slate, but something where people could hold up a sign, and I find index cards work really well for this. So get like a four by six index card. You could even send them to your team members ahead of time if you wanted. Send them a Sharpie marker and be like hey, we're going to use this for our holiday party and it might be things like you know, name your favorite holiday tradition or what's your favorite Christmas cookie or holiday cookie you like to eat, something like that. That gets everybody involved and they're showing their index card to the screen and everybody finds that they're participating in some way. But here is the added benefit they get to learn about other people on their team as well. This way then everybody has the mic at some point. They have an opportunity to share if they want, and they want to speak out about that. But they also have an exit plan, and the exit plan here is simply like here's how long the virtual event's going to go. If you want to stay on, you can. If you're ready to go, that's fine too, but I want to see you. I want to thank you, wish you happy holidays to you and your loved ones, and get really excited about what 2024 is going to bring. So, however you choose to party in that virtual environment, certainly go ahead and do that too. And I'll give you one little bonus tip here Tap into your network about what other leaders are doing to host virtual events. Additionally, if you have someone in your network who has an entertainment background or hospitality background, you may want to tap into them and say hey, do you have any ideas for me about what I could do here with my team? My team has five people on it. We're all meeting virtually. What might that look like? So the idea, especially around the holidays we see time and time again is to build more camaraderie, increase our team, increase the value of our team and why we appreciate everybody and celebrate the holidays for being the joyful time that they are. Keep in mind some people may not want to play. They don't like holidays, for whatever reason. They don't want to be a part of the team. In that regard, they're very work focused. We never, ever, ever, want to pressure somebody to doing something they don't want to do. So unless you have structured this as a mandatory hands-on meeting which I don't know why you would, but for whatever reason, remember that other people have ground rules and we want to be able to respect them as much as possible as well. So there we go. You've got some tips on how to navigate the holidays. In particular, juggling your work and family responsibilities gave you some strategies for how to navigate that holiday event or party at your office and, lastly, what to do in the virtual environment. So, most importantly, what I want to leave you with is this the most important thing you need to be doing during these holidays are prioritizing your self-care and the care for your loved ones. Find the balance between work and your personal life during the holidays and make them more enjoyable than ever for you and your loved ones. This time, my friends, I would be honored if you would kindly do me a favor and tell someone in your network about this podcast and this episode, capture the link and share it with them. If you follow on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, there is a way to leave a five-star rating, and on Apple Podcasts you can leave a review. I would be honored if you would do that. Thank you so very much and until next time, my friends remember this you will build your mid-career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how you show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day. Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS Podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple Podcasts. Visit johnnarrowcom for more information about how I can help you build your mid-career GPS or how I can help you in your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at John Darrell Coaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters.

Navigating Holiday Parties and Work Stressors
Navigating Work and Family Responsibilities
Mid-Career GPS Podcast Thank You