Christmas is approaching and the lunches are getting longer. How do I play it?

Dear Aunty B,

The silly season is upon us and in our business it’s expected that our sales team will wine and dine a few select clients to keep them sweet for next year.

As a former salesperson myself, I know it’s a time-honoured tradition and a pretty important one – we’re in the sort of blokey industry where if you don’t go out and get sloshed with the clients, it reflects badly.

But long lunches bring a few dangers.

First, there’s the general worry about staff getting boozed and making geese of themselves – even when the client is doing the same thing.

Secondly, there’s the specific worry about staff coming back to the office after getting boozed and making geese of themselves – something that has happened a bit in the last few years.

Aunty B, what’s the best way to tackle this? I know I’ve got to grin and bear it to some extent, but I want as little risk as possible?

Not Tired and Emotional,



Dear Not Tired and Emotional,

Ah, the festive season. Don’t you just love it? Not.

You’re right in that the lunches are going to happen and you do want to keep clients sweet. But you’re also right that you should try and minimise the damage.

I’d get your sales team/lunch crew together for a quick meeting and tell them you want their help with the problem.

Tell them that you are all going to come up with the Long Lunch List – a set of rules to govern the behaviour of long lunches.

Here are a few non-negotiable rules:

  • No driving to lunch if you are going to drink – lunch near public transport
  • Only one venue – if you leave the restaurant to go to the pub, it’s time to go home
  • Every glass of booze is matched by a glass of water
  • The booze bill should not be more than double the food bill
  • If it’s past 3.30pm, you’re working from home after lunch
  • Remember, this is work time!

Yes, it’s a bit silly and, yes, you should keep the discussion light-hearted, but the point is that by discussing this openly your team will understand what good conduct is and what isn’t acceptable.

Be Smart,

Aunty B

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