The dreaded holiday party

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I have thought about this for years, and I finally decided to write about this because several people have approached me already this year about dreading their work, holiday party. So I’m going to say it:

Most people hate your holiday party.

Consider these 3 groups in your organization

To the executives and the people who help plan these things, please consider the following.

About half of your employees are introverts, and forced socialization is not pleasant for them. So no matter what type of party you have, the introvert segment of your employee base will never see this as a perk. It is just an additional, energy-draining social requirement.

About half of your people are extrorverts and while they will likely love the idea of a party, the love will stop and will also turn to dread when they find out your party is on a weekend. I have never seen anyone in my whole life, on their way to a weekend work party, who was excited about it.

About 100% of your people are extra-busy in December with their own holiday prep, personal parties, and social obligations, so a holiday party that is not during regular work hours is an unwelcome time-demand.

What is your real desired outcome?

So when you are planning your holiday party, I suggest you first consider your real desired outcome.

Is it to:

* Thank people
* Motivate People
* Do Team Building

Thank People

If your only motivation is to thank people, I humbly suggest you take the per-head budget for the party and just give people gift cards.

If you really want to achieve your desired outcome, deliver the gift cards personally to each employee and thank them personally for something specific they did. Tell them how their effort helped you or the business this year.

That sounds harder than having someone arrange a party. Yep, But it gets you your desired outcome.

Motivate People

If your desired outcome is to motivate people, do something that makes their job more meaningful. Remember, a party will never be the thing that motivates 100% of your people.

Do team building

If your desired outcome is team building, and you believe that a holiday party is a good opportunity to get your team together, then perhaps you are on the right track now….

But please…. Just don’t do it on the weekend.

If you sent out a confidential survey and asked people to rank in order which things they would prefer for the holiday celebration and gave them the choices of:

* Gift Card
* Party during work hours
* Dinner on a week night
* Party on a weekend

No one would choose the weekend.

What you are basically saying by having your holiday celebration on the weekend is that “It’s not enough for me to tell you what to do during the work week. I also need you to demonstrate your loyalty to me by giving up weekend time during the busiest time of the year in your personal life.”

I’m not saying don’t have a holiday party. I’m just saying please respect your employees, and don’t pretend that a weekend party in December is a perk.

Show people that you are doing this for THEM. Make it an actual perk. Make them feel appreciated and motivated by making it convenient and fun, respecting their personal time, and giving them a break from work. (And if you don’t want to give them a break from work, give them a gift card.)

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.

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About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at, follow her on twitter or facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.


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You can find Patty at, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her books RISE and MOVE.

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