Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

WORKPLACE ETIQUETTE

Ten ways to ensure your career doesn’t flame out at the boss’s BBQ Add to ...

As George Gershwin put it, it’s “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” And what hospitable boss with a nice pool, house or condo and state of the art barbecue doesn’t want to show his appreciation to employees who have toiled through a long winter to get them ready for a busy fall?

Regardless of the motivation, for some, socializing with their boss (and conceivably his family and even his pets) sparks fear. For others, they relish the golden opportunity to enjoy some serious face time with their superior.

If you want to not only survive but actually enjoy some pool time with your boss and colleagues, here are 10 tips to help you make it through the event.

1. It’s the boss’s party: house rules apply.

If he wants to be the main chef at the barbecue, let him. Being overly helpful in introducing new and better ways to cook are best left for another visit when your boss is not taking the stage. And if the family pet has a pool pass and joins in the fun, try to hide your disapproval.

2. Arrive on time.

As well, consider not being the first guest to leave – nor the last.

3. Keep cell phones invisible.

If you must make or take a call, do it out of sight of your hosts and co-workers. No one is impressed by a colleague who brings work or personal stuff to an office social event.

4. Leave your adorable Nova Scotia Duck Tolling puppy at home.

Your boss may have a dog (or two) and may not wish to integrate canine bonding into the event. Use the opportunity to find a common bond with your boss over dog ownership, but realize you don’t need to physically show your boss your dog to make that happen. A dog fight can put people on edge even on a pleasant summer afternoon.

5. Include all your colleagues in conversation.

The whole idea is to get to know your co-workers so try to avoid hanging out with higher-ups to the detriment of getting to know other colleagues.

6. The unwelcome house tour.

Your boss may live in a castle that begs exploration but wait until he offers an invitation to look around.

7. Enjoy the cooking.

Most invitations contain a chance to list food allergies. But if you arrive and don’t see anything to your liking, try and enjoy a salad to participate in the food fest. The same applies to alcohol. Unless you are allergic to alcohol, even if you are just a very light drinker consider accepting a lighter beverage and make it last versus turning down alcohol all together. And drink lots of water. The sun combined with alcohol can pack a brutal punch.

8. Not too much skin

As buffed and tanned as you may be, parading around the pool in your skimpiest beach costume during the dining portion of the event (when everyone else is wearing a coverup) may garner unwanted attention.

9. Save the shop talk for the office.

Your boss is more concerned about watering and feeding his guests than hearing about your idea for a new product line. Personal impressions can last longer than those formed in a formal business setting.

10. Thank you: the two sweetest words.

Thank your hosts upon departing with a handshake. If you want to stand out, pen a short thank you note and pop it in the mail the next day. One or two lines suffice. It’s not sucking up, just acknowledging the time and effort your boss has expended to provide a pleasant evening.

The successful navigation of an informal work-related event can have a positive impact on your career. If you follow these 10 tips, your attendance at the next company social will be pleasantly anticipated.

Evan Thompson (@CSuiteProspects) is president and founder of Evan Thompson and Associates. He is a personal and business branding expert and motivational comedian.

In the know

Most popular videos »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular