To Happy Hour or Not to Happy Hour: That is the Question

April 13th, 2012 | Matt LaCasse | 5 Comments

happy hourTwitter rabbit holes can easily claim 20 minutes of my day. I click on one interesting link someone tweets out, and the next thing I know I’m on the HR blog at Ragan.com ranting in my office.

I came across this post the other day. The basic premise of the article is that it is a bad idea for managers to attend a non-work-related happy hour with their subordinates.

While I see the point, I wholeheartedly disagree.

This is not a one-size-fits-all situation. As a manager, you have to know if your authority will be compromised by attending these functions, and if so, you shouldn’t attend. However, I’ve had several managers in the past that I gained MORE respect for by having a drink or three with them at an impromptu happy hour after work.

You see, we often wear “masks” at the office, or in our professional lives in general. We have a certain role to be filled, and (depending on the office) our personalities take a back seat.

How much do you really learn about someone in that setting? Not a whole lot.

On the other hand, attending some kind of social function (it doesn’t have to be happy hour) with your co-workers, including managers, that isn’t work-related in any way allows people to relax and just be themselves.

If you know a person outside of the confines of the office, you’re much more likely to understand why a manager is making that decision, or why an employee is challenging you on a specific issue.

It has potential to defuse situations inside the office because you’ve taken the time to get to know each other outside the office.

What do you think? Is it a good idea for managers and subordinates to hangout together outside of the office?

Image: Tjeerd Wiersma via Flickr CC 2.0

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Matt LaCasse

Matt LaCasse

Social Media Account Manager at KimberMedia
Matt LaCasse believes that finding the methods and channels customers and audiences use, and engaging with them in their comfort zone, is the key to effectively communicating with those groups on behalf of clients. He does social media management for  KimberMedia and teaches for  @bgckids. He is a husband, Iowa Hawkeyes and Chicago Cubs fan. He may, or may not, use humor as a defensive mechanism. He also blogs.
Matt LaCasse
Matt LaCasse

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5 comments
rachaelseda
rachaelseda like.author.displayName 1 Like

I think one of the best ways to do this is to have work lunches or after work functions that while work related still allow people to get to know each other on a more personal level. Which I too think is important. 

Erin F.
Erin F.

 @rachaelseda I like that idea, too. We're trying to do that more often at my workplace - have casual lunches or breakfasts while providing updates about what's happening at the company and such.

Latest blog post: Is It Time for New Glasses?

MattLaCasse
MattLaCasse

 @rachaelseda A great idea, Rachel. My big grouch with the article is that I think it perpetuates a divide between workers and management. Every situation is different, and should be treated as such. Rarely is there a one-size-fits-all solution.

Erin F.
Erin F. like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I think it's like you say - it depends on the situation and the type of people. With my co-workers, it would be fine to spend time together outside the office. Then again, we've gotten to know each other pretty well at the office. They know I'm a complete nerd when it comes to The Avengers and literature. I think getting together typically doesn't happen because we're leading different lives. My co-workers are married and/or have kids. Their time outside work usually is spent with their families. 

Latest blog post: Is It Time for New Glasses?

MattLaCasse
MattLaCasse

 @Erin F. Agreed, Erin. It definitely depends on where you are in your lives as co-workers or as a manager. 

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