1. Company socials provide a rare chance to connect with your staff on a personal level. Imagine how caring you look when you grill your employees on the new expense-reduction plan or strategic marketing initiative between every sip of holiday punch. Lesson: Demonstrate a keen interest in your people, not only in their work.
2. Encouraged by employees or alcohol, some double-left-footed CEOs will work the dance floor to disastrous effect — and show an unmanagerial lack of dignity in the process. Lesson: Play to your strengths, and avoid your weaknesses.
3. Yes, some all-staff get-togethers can be a bit of a drag. But people won’t buy into your party — or your company — if you show up late and leave early. Lesson: Lead by example.
4. Just because you shouldn’t talk shop at the company Christmas party doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think shop. The occasion offers an opportunity to observe how your people behave outside the moral and social constraints of the workplace. Watch carefully, and you just might spot that seemingly bonus-worthy employee spouting foul language, being rude to wait staff or — gasp! — holding his fork like a shovel. Lesson: You can’t judge character in the office alone.
5. “Hey, check out this year’s parting gift! A company-logoed coffee mug normally priced at $1.12 per unit, with 14 jelly beans inside! I can’t believe I’ve been pondering a new job!” Lesson: Gestures of appreciation can be small but not cheap. It is Christmas, after all.