It’s that time of the year again and many offices are planning to have what has become a tradition of sorts in the corporate world; the office Christmas party. The office Christmas party has become synonymous with Christmas and has become so popular that it is a staple practice in countries where Christmas isn’t even an official holiday and Hollywood has even made a movie with Jennifer Aniston in the leading role based on the shenanigans that have become synonymous with such parties.
While the office party is usually a time for employees to take a break from the stress of the job and have a moment of fun relaxation while mingling with their bosses at a more informal setting, many have misunderstood that there are principles that apply to such parties and have found themselves in embarrassing situations which have soiled their reputations long after the last guest walked out of the party venue.
Dear Career Sensei,
I am an intelligent and business savvy professional with over 10 years’ experience, 8 of which I’ve spent with my current employer. Though it’s a small company with a staff strength of less than 20, we control approximately 10% of the market.
There’s really not much of a future for me here as I hold the highest office an employee can within the company, the only two positions higher than mine are held by the owners and co-founders of the business, a married couple.
In the early days when the Facebook userbase were mainly milenials, I would often update my status to reveal what I was upto from the important (job interviews, work functions) to the mundane (what I was eating for dinner). As the medium started to become more popular with generation x’s and baby boomers, and my network began to grow to include older relatives and colleagues, I began to tone down the amount of information I shared but would occasionally share my plans for Friday nights. My typical Friday posts were often funny depictions of my love for alcohol, so I’d share something like “TGIF- Totally single so tonight I’m going to be spending the night alone with a bottle of Grey Goose Vodka” or “I’m going to dance and get wasted with my girls tonight”, you know, typical single girl living a life of debauchery posts.
A personal poor first impression incident happened early on in my career as an entry level e-business banking officer. Part of my job scope at the time, included going to client locations to pitch our electronic banking applications to a group of often high ranking officials. It was a pretty standard routine, I would start off by delivering a power point presentation to highlight the product features, follow it with a Q&A session after which I would launch the application and proceed with a live demo to emphasize how user friendly the products were.
I delivered these presentations so often that it got to a point when I could do my presentations without having to look at the slides and could predict the questions that would be asked and answer them preemptively. I had also learnt from doing so many sales pitches that almost every audience had a ‘problem person’ and could spot them almost immediately I stepped into the meeting room. A ‘problem person’ in this instance refers to that one person that pretends to have more important things to do than being bogged with ‘your’ sales pitch, they usually spend most of the meeting fiddling with their phone/tab and would only spring into action during the time for questions to ask questions with the sole purpose of throwing you off.
Over the course of doing these pitches, I had learned that to manage the ‘problem person’, I needed to pay them more attention than necessary and answer their questions as politely as possible no matter how mundane or meaningless the questions were. The trick was to identify them for what they were (distractions), navigate their obstacle courses as effortlessly as possible, stay on focus and never lose my cool or let them get on my nerves.
On one occasion, I was tasked with making a pitch for an important prospect of the bank and before heading to the meeting my manager informed me of how big the prospects account was and the decision as to whether they would start banking with us rested on the product I was going to talk to them about. So I was already a bag of nerves heading into the clients office and it didn’t help matters when I spotted the problem person the moment he walked in as I was setting up. He sized me up and said to my hearing that he would have preferred someone ‘more senior’ than I was to handle the presentation.
Dear Career Sensei,
My boss is lazy, rude, crass and vindictive and I really hate him.
He makes what would have been an otherwise great job stressful and even though I am actively searching for another job, I’m starting to think that it’s best I quit now because I fear that I may soon be forced to react to his mood swings and constant condescension by lashing out at him and saying what I really feel about him which could lead to me losing my job on the grounds of insubordination.
Please help because I am at my wits end.
As a mother of two young children myself, I can tell you a thing or two about the pain I felt when I had to go back to work for the first time after having a baby and how jealous I would get every time my son would light up when my sister (his caregiver at the time) walked into the room. Working mom guilt is a recurring topic on several of the mommy boards I belong to and any thread on the topic garners hundreds of comments from mothers sharing how much they cry alongside their babies/preschoolers when they have to leave for work or how sad it makes them that their children have become more attached to their nannies, daddies, grandparents or even daycare teachers.Working mom guilt, yes there’s such a thing and if you are a mother who has a career or work outside your home, you probably know a thing or two about this phenomenon. Working mom guilt is not to be confused with just plain good old mom guilt which is the kind the shame mothers feel for issues they face in the process of raising their children such as making a choice of not exclusively breastfeeding your baby to giving in and letting your child eat candy before dinner. Working mom guilt is another kettle of fish entirely, as it is exclusive to mothers who work to support the family income and in doing so are not spending time with their children as much as they would want to.
Dear Career Sensei,
I’m in a fix. I think I’ve fallen hard for my boss!
She’s hot, flirts with me, assigns the best projects to me and sings my praises to our director.
My colleagues have even noticed that she treats me differently and now refer to me as ‘Teachers Pet’ behind her back.
We are both single with nothing to lose should I go ahead and ask her out?
Hot and bothered
Earlier in my banking career, I was redeployed to the sales unit without requesting for it and on short notice. Even though I like to believe that I love taking on new challenges I took on the redeployment with a lot of anxiety and trepidation because all my years in banking, I had been told that sales was the most difficult job function to excel in as the market was saturated with several commercial banks selling the same products to the same customers.
My manager at the time tried to calm my nerves down by giving me a prep-talk by sharing some nuggets that had helped her excel to become a star sales person with several promotions and awards to show for it. She explained that like me she had been thrust into sales but that she was able to succeed by leveraging on the strength of her network. She advised me to take advantage of the people in my social circles and to always be prepared by having my call cards and a couple of account opening forms I would never know when the opportunity to meet a prospective client will come.
Have you ever identified an advertised job that you were qualified for and applied for it only to never get a callback or worse still received an impersonal auto response notifying you of your ineligibility for the position?
If you answered yes, know that you are not alone. You see in todays saturated job market, recruiters are expected to sieve through hundreds of applications for a single advertised job. To make the selection process easier, recruiters have been trained to select applications based on very specific criteria and if your resume does not contain these key terms, you will continue to be passed over for jobs you are qualified for.
I’m sure like me your social media channel feeds are flooded with TGIF status updates, posts and memes.
Fridays are the least productive day of the week with 35% work being less done than on Mondays the second most productive day of the week (after Tuesdays). Even the commute to work on a Friday is chill with less traffic.
There’s a generally relaxed vibe when you walk into an office on a Friday, meetings are not as intense, no one seems to be in a rush and people at the office are in a more celebratory mood.
So why is Friday such a special day for employees?