It’s the season to be jolly, right? That’s why going to a party should be one of the first things on your to-do list. Partying would be your first choice if you were like a lot of people at many companies. But I was talking with another business professional and she was actually debating whether to go to a party. What was the dilemma? It was more than the season.
Even though the party was at year-end, this was not a holiday party. It was a going-away party. This professional alternatively referred to the guest of honor as either “The Bad Seed” or some other unprintable description. Here’s why.
At business meetings with peers, the guest of honor had no problem taking credit for other people’s work. Other times the guest of honor would undermine the work of other members of the team. When he was responsible for work on a project, the only certainty was how he would take steps to extricate himself from actually doing any work.
Intrigue and espionage had nothing on this guy when you realize how he played the corporate political game. As I commented to the business professional, “You have to give him credit for how he plays the game. He may be the laziest man in corporate America, but look at how many people he has fooled.”
That was the dilemma with going to the party. Should this professional celebrate a disliked soon-to-be former peer?
My advice was to absolutely go to the party. Why? Here’s my spin on corporate intrigue and politics. I have found that over my years in business that there will always be people like this guest of honor. They fool a lot of people who are mostly in senior management. They anger even more who are mostly below. If you take them on with direct confrontation, you may win a few battles, but you certainly lose the war.
Here’s why: If you reveal to senior management that they’ve backed the devil, you have shown them that their judgment is really poor. They don’t like that. It’s like sales where you show a customer he’s bought the wrong product from your competitor. You make them look stupid. Everyone in business needs to save face. Management especially has delicate egos.
Also, by staying on the sidelines at the end of this guy’s tenure, there’s nothing to be gained by showing your displeasure. So what if the guy was a jerk? What value do you get by a visible absence at the party? You show the guy you hate him. You show management that you’re not a team player. You show your cards. None of those are good for you.
So here’s what I told the business professional: “Go to the party. Just don’t think of it that way. Instead of celebrating the guy, you’re going to his funeral. Thankfully, he’s going to be gone from your life really soon.” She said, “Now that you present it that way, I can see there’s something to celebrate.” I hope she has a great time at the party.