Difficult Conversations About Bad Behaviour

Shawnee Love   •   November 29, 2019

The slew of holiday parties about to begin inspires this blog on difficult conversations. I.e., the tough chats you have to have Monday morning after someone seriously misbehaves at an office party.  I am talking about things like:

  • Hitting on the boss’s date or actually hitting someone,
  • Getting belligerent with the person encouraging you to drink water or take a cab home, or
  • Dropping your pants so you can get “jiggy” up on a table.

As a leader, you have to address these issues the next day at work, assuming the person shows his or her face.  Hopefully, they find you and begin the conversation with an apology but even when they are too mortified, or just don’t remember, it’s up to the boss to “handle it”.

The method of handling depends on a variety of factors including the seriousness of the bad behaviour, work history, etc. but assuming the behaviour wasn’t bad enough to warrant dismissal, there are a few things you can do to make this conversation constructive.

  1. Ensure it is done privately.
  2. Be up front about why you are meeting and what you want the meeting to accomplish.
  3. Stick with the facts as it relates to the bad behaviour that occurred.
  4. Talk about the actual consequences or impacts of the behaviour.
  5. Speak to what needs to happen going forward to correct the situation as well as the consequences of future bad behaviours.
  6. Hold the person accountable for the corrections, e.g., if an apology is warranted, ensure it happens properly.

One final note, is that you can reduce the likelihood of bad behaviours by advising employees before the party about your expectations for their behaviour (and the behaviour of their dates which is frankly an even more difficult conversation).

I hope holiday parties never go away but I have seen many employers tone down and even end holiday bashes due to the excessively bad judgment of a few. Get out in front of this issue if you can and give us a call if you need assistance with this or any difficult conversations.