I had to smile to myself on Friday.
It was the staff Christmas outing. We’d been ice skating in the afternoon and we were going out to dinner afterwards.
We booked a hotel room for one of our team who lives out of town so we all repaired there after skating to get changed before heading off to the restaurant. It was fairly typical Christmas fayre – a three course meal with three choices for each course.
There were five of us at the meal; four of us were traditional in our main course, three of us with starter and main course and one of us was 100% traditional in every way. Ahem… I had prawn cocktail followed by turkey followed by Christmas pud with brandy sauce!
One of our team, though, opted for vegetable tart.
We had our starter, which was very nice. And then our main courses turned up. Five lots of turkey.
And here comes the thing that made me smile.
Four roast turkey meals were placed in front of the four people who wanted them. The fifth was placed in front of the team member who wanted the vegetable.
The head waitress looked over in dismay and said (this is the thing, finally, that made me smile), ‘No, no, no, she’s a tart!’
Utterly hilarious, particularly to a group of people who had already had a couple of drinks. Of course, we were entirely sympathetic to our member and didn’t take the mick out of her at all. Actually, that’s not true; we ribbed her mercilessly all night long.
Now it seemed to me that she took it all in good heart and joined in with the fun poking. But do I actually know that she was okay with it? I don’t. And that’s a problem in businesses. How do people know where the line is? And when they’ve crossed it?
I guess one way is to surgically remove any sense of humour from all employees, just in case the line is crossed, but I don’t believe that anyone wants that. I also suspect any surgical procedure may be illegal without the consent of the employee!
So, it’s kind of down to individuals to be sensitive to other peoples’ feelings. And when they aren’t sensitive, it’s down to you, the boss, to referee. This means you need to have your finger on the pulse in the office and you can’t really get sucked in to any of the office ‘banter’ just in case you have to step in.