Author Topic: Dinner with clients at Bosses house  (Read 2179 times)

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texgalatheart

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Dinner with clients at Bosses house
« on: February 23, 2007, 02:14:47 PM »
Coming out of lurking twice in one week....wow.
Here is my dilema. One of my out of town clients will be here next week. My boss and his wife have socialized with this client in the past, out in restaurants and at boss' house. I am fairly new to the company. My boss has invited me and the client to dinner at his house. Now for the question, do I offer to help (clear the table etc) like I normally would at a wholly social occasion.

Rose2Bear

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Re: Dinner with clients at Bosses house
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2007, 02:20:24 PM »
I'd say there is nothing wrong in offering to help. If they want you to help, they will appreciate it and take you up on it, and if they don't want you to help, they will still appreciate it but tell you to just sit back and enjoy your coffee or whatever.

platys

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Re: Dinner with clients at Bosses house
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2007, 03:30:45 PM »
Take the lead of the boss and the clients.   If they don't help clear, then you don't help clear.  It'll put you in a position of weakness to suddenly be doing "women's work".

Which, yes, competely sucks, but you'll lose status.

Chocolate Cake

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Re: Dinner with clients at Bosses house
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2007, 03:44:57 PM »
ITA!   If the boss/client don't help, you sit tight too.

Lisbeth

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Re: Dinner with clients at Bosses house
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2007, 04:54:52 PM »
I agree, too.

By offering to help, you are signaling that you are in a subordinate position.  That does happen to be the case with the boss, but not with the client.

Also, I think it crosses a line between professional and private that is already fuzzy by socializing with the boss.
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Twik

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Re: Dinner with clients at Bosses house
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2007, 11:45:47 AM »
Yes, I'd be very uneasy at the thought of this odd combo of professional/private duties. Really, this should have been held at a nice restaurant, where a business atmosphere can be maintained. Then, if the boss wants to establish personal ties, he could have asked you to his home some time when clients were not involved.

I guess I'm lucky my bosses have never felt the need to do this.
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JeanFromBNA

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Re: Dinner with clients at Bosses house
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2007, 01:48:35 PM »
Don't offer to help, but pitch in if the client does.  Your job for the evening is to help entertain the client.  Come prepared by finding out what your client's hobbies are, if you don't know already, and read the latest industry journals and popular news. 

texgalatheart

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Re: Dinner with clients at Bosses house
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2007, 04:49:36 PM »
Thanks for all the good advice. I'll just take my cues from the client.

Jaywalker

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Re: Dinner with clients at Bosses house
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2007, 05:56:46 PM »
i'm going to offer another view here -- it is NOT the client you take your cue from -- it is the host -- you are there as a subordinate -- you should ask the boss what role he wants you to play

generally flunkies are invited to such things precisely to be flunkies -- the boss may want you to sit there like a princess and be waited on like the client -- who would certainly not be clearing dishes at a business dinner -- or he may assume that as the junior flunky, you are there to take coats and assist with the bar and clear plates and generally make yourself useful --

that would not be unusual -- but you need to ask the boss if you have 'duties' to perform at this dinner -- you might make a very poor business impression if you sit there while his wife serves you when you were invited to assist and he just assumed you knew that

don't leave it to random strangers to advise you -- ask the boss and be specific about whether he would like you to assist with the dinner in any way

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Dinner with clients at Bosses house
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2007, 07:43:33 PM »
i'm going to offer another view here -- it is NOT the client you take your cue from -- it is the host -- you are there as a subordinate -- you should ask the boss what role he wants you to play

generally flunkies are invited to such things precisely to be flunkies -- the boss may want you to sit there like a princess and be waited on like the client -- who would certainly not be clearing dishes at a business dinner -- or he may assume that as the junior flunky, you are there to take coats and assist with the bar and clear plates and generally make yourself useful --

that would not be unusual -- but you need to ask the boss if you have 'duties' to perform at this dinner -- you might make a very poor business impression if you sit there while his wife serves you when you were invited to assist and he just assumed you knew that

don't leave it to random strangers to advise you -- ask the boss and be specific about whether he would like you to assist with the dinner in any way

um, why would the boss invite an employee to 'serve/clean' dinner at his house?

Throw me in with the camp that says this is business socializing - you are not invited as a friend or guest.  Many executives entertain in their homes for out of country clients (or other reasons).  Thus, it is just like you are going out to dinner at a restaurant.  Unless the client starts cleaning up (since it is the Boss's house), I wouldnt clean up either.  Even then, leave it to the hostess (Boss's wife, in this case) to do most of the logistics. 
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Jaywalker

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Re: Dinner with clients at Bosses house
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2007, 07:54:23 PM »
the real question is why would the OP listen to you? instead of the boss?  it is extraordinarily common for the subordinate to be expected to be of assistance in entertaining, particularly at a small home party (e.g. it is common to ask the subordinate to tend bar)  maybe that is not the case here -- but  the important thing is that the OP needs to take the cue from what the boss expects not what any of us fools on the internet expect  -- it makes zero sense to take a cue from the client guest -- the flunky is in  a sense a co-host -- not a 'guest' in the sense that the client is -- ask the boss what he expects

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Dinner with clients at Bosses house
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2007, 09:07:56 PM »
Jaywalker, what if what the boss expects is unreasonable?

Granted, I fully understand that none of us know the industry or what is even expected in the OP's specific working relationship. But the OP posted here, and if the OP thought to simply follow the boss's lead, then she wouldnt have posted here in the first place.  I think the OP is looking for advice on what is etiquettely appropriate in a business situation. And since there were no details posted about the company, industry or culture they are operating in, then we only have the broadest information to go on, and can only give the broadest advice based on what we feel is reasonable from our experiences.  Maybe the OP is young, and cleaning up would only reinforce to her boss and the client that she is subservient, or doesnt know how to act in a business setting, as another poster suggested, and thus hurt her business relationships in some way?  Maybe she is expected to clean up, like you suggested? Basically, we dont know what is expected of her from her boss - but it might not even matter, because what he expects, might not be appropriate either, and it might be a boundary-setting opportunity for the OP.   

So in reality, it is valuable for both of us to post, as well as our reasons why, so that the OP has multiple opinions to consider and decide what is applicable to her situation.  I wouldnt just 'take a cue' from my boss for the very reason mentioned above - I would also exercise my own judgement, and if I didnt have it, I would ask others so that I was well informed before the situation took place.  It sounds to me like this is what the OP is doing. 
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. - Maya Angelou

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

texgalatheart

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Re: Dinner with clients at Bosses house
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2007, 10:46:23 AM »
Many interesting points have been made. I'll guess I should have given a few more details. I am female which may or may not matter. Definitely not young  ;D. I am a manager in my company. One of the visiting clients is based in the U.K.  and the other is based here in the U.S. The clients company has been with us for many years. We have been in negotiations regarding some addition services and the U.K. based person is sometime harder to "read". The invitation to the bosses house is to socialize and also to gage clients feelings toward our company i.e. would decline to dine at the boss' house if he was unhappy with our company. As mentioned, these clients have in the past been invited and accepted invitiations such as this before.
Thanks again for all the helpful info.