Q: Last night, my department was taken out to dinner by a professional contact. I am new to the company, and have the role as Senior Manager of the department. One of my employees ordered many drinks, an appetizer, an expensive meal (which was only half eaten) and then was the only person at the table to order a dessert.
I feel that it was inappropriate to ‘take advantage’ of a person’s kindness when being treated to dinner. I would like to set some guidelines for future business events as this will be something that occurs on a regular basis.
Can you please give me some guidelines for when someone else is picking up the tab for a business lunch/dinner?
A: We agree that employee acted inappropriately. He should have taken his cue from his hosts. It’s always best to err on the conservative side. If the hosts only had one drink, he shouldn’t have ordered several. The same holds true. The same holds true for ordering the meal. He shouldn’t be the only one ordering an appetizer and/or dessert. As to what to order, there are three guidelines:
- Order medium-priced dishes, not the most expensive on the menu.
- Know the food you’re ordering. This isn’t the time to be adventuresome and order something you’ve never had before. Not only might you not like it, but also it might be difficult to eat. You want your focus to be on the people at the table not on your food.
- Order food that is relatively easy to eat. Linguine with clam sauce is very tasty, but eating linguine is a challenge that’s nearly to leave your tie or blouse spattered with sauce.