No, I did not get into a brawl with my colleagues after a drink recently, nor did I get caught by the cops with any of my colleagues who were driving under the influence of alcohol, neither did my HR send me a behavioural improvement notice after witnessing me going crazy after an office party. It’s been some time since I have had a colleague next to me with a drink in hand as I have been jobless for the last few months. Before that I used to love having a drink with my colleagues after long day at work, but I have seen me and my colleagues embarrassing ourselves after a drink post work many a times and hence these reflections. If you are not the drinking types, this post may not be for you but I am sure you do feel embarrassed to be in parties when your colleagues show a new avatar after a drink or two!
Should organizations stop encouraging drinks in official parties or take it to an extreme of having a no drink policy? I think it might be good to have a serious thought around that sooner than later. I am sure soon there will be liabilities organizations would face externally at the rate some of the incidents are happening around us. No moral policing here, as we all know in a grown-up world people are responsible for their act and know where to draw the line. There have been studies which have demonstrated that social bonding amongst colleagues have increased after a drink or two. But I seriously believe the culture of office parties with drinks thrown into it in the name of celebration or socializing have its own perils.
Spare a thought, how many times we organize parties not to be conscious about how our colleagues will reach home after a drink, think about your boss who generously takes you out for a drink paid by your company but forgets that you might drive home under the influence of alcohol. I know you might say you both are responsible and will always be within limits or take Uber home, really? Just wait outside an office party in any of the large hotels to see how many of your colleagues’ drive home after getting high. As organizations, we sort of encourage drinking and driving by organizing such parties.
Now imagine the embarrassment we land ourselves in when we get ‘high’ in the name of bonding with colleagues, no’ I am not just referring to Karaoke’s which I think is sort of fun, but the conversations which can lead to disastrous endings when alcohol takes away the filters of respect/relationships/hierarchy/professionalism/diplomacy.
I was once in a bonhomie with my DRs middle of a night after few drinks when the conversation drifted to a sensitive zone of performance. After all, how long can you discuss about weather, traffic, movies, cricket when your commonality is dominated by work? One of my colleagues asked me what I thought about our performance context, I said the numbers indicated that few of us deserved to be in Performance Improvement Plans (PIP). So, she asked me to name them, I took the names of few of them who were with me, suddenly couple of them offered to resign, and in no time the atmosphere changed, Maybe the boss in me felt challenged and I promptly asked them to email me and confirm their resignation, as you can imagine the discussion then went on till dawn before we retired with whatever peace that we could achieve, the next morning with swollen eyes and apologies to each other we started our annual budget meeting, Just think’ how nice we must have been to each other in a crucial meeting to avoid further face-off’s after the previous night’s experience. I can rate that as one of my most embarrassing moments of drinking with colleagues, before I forget to complete on that night or afterwards, nobody resigned, it was the alcohol 🙂 Did we come closer after that conversation, maybe not, probably we even stopped drinking together thereafter during the evenings before meetings!
Reflect about it, how many times have you regretted going out with a colleague for a drink based on the consequences, we might think it’s part of work to go out with a client, colleague, boss or an office party. But we have seen multiple times, the consequences after drink don’t seem to be perceived as part of work by the organization, law enforcement agencies (cops) or even colleagues depending on what happened afterwards. We have read about how people in leadership roles have misbehaved, groped their colleagues, caused fatal accidents, contributed PR disasters after getting high on drink in the name of socializing with colleagues.
Drinking out with Colleagues is like playing with fire, you don’t know when you will cross the limit and burn yourself!
So, is there a way out? not everybody can quit drinking with colleagues just because few of us can go out of line, Can HR say no to reimbursement bills of drinks with colleagues as a policy? The CEOs may change the HR Head if those initiatives are even thought off 🙂 the annual awards, new year kick off meets, client meets, dealers meet, new product launches, the delayed IT projects going live all need parties with drinks in it. There can’t be ‘dry’ organisations, it will take away the necessary ‘spirit’ required to bond with colleagues 🙂
Almost sounds like we can’t enjoy our colleagues company without a drink, goes on to show how boring our work, colleagues, bosses, clients are!
The original length of this post was about 3 times than what you just read. I am sure you can write a book on this just like me with your rich experiences on drinking with Colleagues!