5 Things the Boss Should Never Do at the Staff Party

December 14, 2015 BY Sharon Soliday, CCC-SLP

Hard to imagine, but there are social rules that apply just to the boss. Co-workers can talk about anything and everything at the staff party (and they always do) but administrators in leadership positions need to keep the following in mind when gathering at that inevitable school potluck. Counting down our Top 5 Don’ts . . .

boss staff party


5. Everyone has friends at work, the select people we prefer to spend our time with over others. Unless you’re the boss. The boss has to treat everyone equally which sort of ends up looking like liking everyone equally. We know it’s not true but perception is reality in the minds of those you lead.

Don’t single out anyone as your favorite.

4. Gift giving is one of the primary love languages and some boss’ want to give gifts to their staff to show their appreciation. Even if they are the same gift distributed equally between folks, don’t do it! Anything more than a $5 gift card, a hand written note, or homemade treats will result in some, if not many, feeling obligated to do the same in exchange. It shouldn’t be so, but it is. We never learned how to accept graciously and leave the giver with warm feelings alone.

Don’t give a gift over a $5 value.

3. It’s tempting when you have the whole staff together to make a few “quick” announcements about what’s to happen after January 1st. Don’t. No one listens, really cares, and some feel set up that “party” was just code for group meeting with food.

Don’t talk about work to come after the holiday.

2. Administrators have so much to tackle on their desks. There’s a huge temptation to shut the door and get some things done while the rest of the team is frolicking to holiday carols. Don’t do it. It sends the message that you value work over celebration and worse, you value the piles on your desk over connecting with your people. For a fleeting moment, forget the To-Do list and remember a good leader does the job. A great leader connects with their people. As a bonus, it also models the value of staff taking the time to connect with kids and families.

Don’t pull a no-show for the staff holiday party.

And the #1 complaint we received?

1. The boss who, punch in hand, corners you individually with, “I know this isn’t the time but real quick, I wanted to talk to you about . . .” Seriously? Staff hate this. If number 3 was bad because the whole group was being set up for a meeting, this one is far worse because there’s no escaping the 1:1 request of a boss. Ask about their kids, their vacation plans, or how they’d spend lottery winnings. Just don’t spend time problem-solving or going into more detail about something related to work. It’s called a holiday for a reason.

Don’t single someone out for a work conversation while everyone else is enjoying the party.

Big thanks to everyone we reached out to in order to identify these big no-nos. Follow these simple rules and you can be assured that both you and your staff will have a fantastic celebration this year.