Sunday, November 29, 2015

Do I Need to Attend Manager’s Party?

Remember my company’s HR Manager; the owner's family friend who personally attacked me, has caused problems in my department for years and was the impetus for my strength challenge. Well she is back at it again. The other day she called me into her office to complain about my boss and the employee we share. She proceeded to say how unhappy the owners are with both of them and that they were going to have a serious talk with my boss about his attitude along with my employee’s performance. Also, in the New Year my awesome new part-time employee is going to be working for her instead of me and I will be stuck with the employee she doesn't like full-time. Oh and by the way she is having a party at her home for all the corporate managers and their spouses in December. She thinks it will be a good opportunity for all of us to meet outside of work and that it will help with team building which our management staff desperately needs.

My head began to spin. I went back to my office and tried to work, but kept thinking my boss, who has been with the company 30+ years, was going to say to heck with this B.S. and retire. How will I manage if he leaves? I wondered down the hall into our operations manager’s office. Our HR manager also has issues with him, but feels she now has him wrapped around her finger. I told him this and relayed the entire conversation to him. He said, "It is all a lie."  None of this is going to happen; the owners aren’t going to talk to my boss, they aren't upset with him or with my employee and they would never allow my new part-time employee to be transferred from accounting to HR. 

I started to feel better and got up to leave saying, “I don’t think I’m up to going to her party.” Surprisingly he already knew about the party and had even discussed it with one of our owners. The owner is not fond of these types of events, because other employees hear of them, think they are company events and feel excluded. He advised our operation’s manager who also doesn’t want to attend, to have his wife drive and get drunk on our HR manager’s booze. The operations manager recommended I do the same.

In my fitness class that night, I couldn’t help but vent about my day. As I rattled off my list of complaints, one of my gym mates kept interjecting incredibly intelligent comments. Finally, I asked her where she worked.  She was self-employed, a writer and a leadership instructor. Who was she? Susan Marshall of the Backbone Institute.

I now know how I will respond when I meet someone I admire in person – I become a blubbering idiot. I read Susan’s column every month in Wisconsin Woman Magazine. Her October column "Good News About You" is currently sitting on my night stand with the following paragraph underlined:
Aggressive people are no more confident than you are. However, they have learned how to use their voices, posture and position to get what they want. When you understand this and refuse to be bullied by it, you gain freedom to go about your business in a professional manner. You need not try to change them, but you don’t need to be cowed by them either.
As to the holiday party, I still wanted to decline, but was concerned I would be missing out on the team building. Will not going be a bad career move?

 “NO," Susan replied, "Not going is called setting boundaries.”

Susan Marshall’s book Of Beauty and Substance: A Backbone Guide for Womenhas been on my reading list since I first heard of it. I went home and ordered a copy.

Have you been invited to a co-worker's house party you dreaded attending? Did you go?

Note, I am an Amazon affiliate.


  1. Once i even passed on a co-worker's wedding. I skillfully planned to be out of town that weekend ... "oh, so sorry". We all know how busy things are in December - what with all the events for family, spouse's work, our work, neighborhood, church, etc. YOU are going to be so very sorry that you didn't know the exact date sooner, because you made other plans. Or, you're going to put on your very big girl panties and tell her, "I'm afraid we won't be able to attend" when she finally gives you the exact info.

    If the Ops Mgr is really your friend and has given you straight scoop, it sounds like she is not really all that popular with the owners - not that they seem to have the "cajones" to get rid of her. Just cross that even off your "to do" list - one less thing to worry about over the holidays.

    1. I have the invitation and know the date, but am putting off RSVPing because I don't want her to change the party to a day she thinks I can make it. I'm going to just say sorry can't make it with no excuse a couple weeks beforehand.

      Yes everyone is pretty much on to her, but won't do anything about it because of the family friendship - which she uses all of the time. Even in the meeting I had with her she said my boss would take her directive if she had the owner's last name.

  2. I worked at a highly dysfunctional family owned business once and there was a huge office party where everyone was expected to attend. To be fair, the party sounded pretty amazing, with door prizes that included things like flat screen televisions and such. But I had worked there long enough that to know that I did not fit in with these people and no amount of schmoozing was going to change that. Fortunately, my mother surprised me with a weekend trip to visit her, something she had never done before and hasn't done since. I don't know if she did it knowingly, helping me to avoid the company nonsense altogether. I don't know that I cared. I was just glad not to bother with the party and was even happier to turn in my two weeks' notice nine months later.

  3. I agree wholehearted with Susan and Webb. You won't benefit from going at all, and not going means you're setting boundaries to be healthier for yourself, even if she has no idea the real reason you're not going. There are plenty of events we want to attend that we can't, no reason this can't look like one of them with the same end result: You get to enjoy your time NOT being at that party.

  4. Heh. Good for you for turning down the invite! There is only so much that I can put up with and when it comes to infringing on my personal time... no thank you. There was a department dinner one evening and I was so worried about whether or not I should go, and if I felt like it would look bad, but at the end of the day, I did not want to go and I did not have to go. So I didn't.

  5. I was once unable to stand mixing business with pleasure...back when I worked in the corporate environment I hated it. My boss hosted a huge Christmas party each year and not only did I have to go, I had to plan the entire thing, setup, and drive over 2 hours to his mansion to get there ahead of everyone else. With my kids. Because it was family friendly.

    Now that I'm on my own I'm loving the simplicity of it all. I don't need to interact with my clients outside of work. I typically only work with acquaintances, so these surface-level pleasantries are already in place and ready for me when I begin negotiations. I am good at my job, so that always leaves a good taste in their mouths. There's no need for parties because I don't work in a team, and I certainly don't need them to improve client relations. It's glorious.