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In the vignette, “If There is Booze”-  Bill, a manager, is faced with two opposing beliefs in an after-office gathering. Mahad is a team member who cannot drink or even sit at a table where alcoholic drinks are served. Carlo, another member,...
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Discussion
1. How far does a manager's authority and responsibility towards team members extend? 

2. Help Bill find a way to diffuse the tension between two opposing views and help everyone enjoy.

3.  Have you experienced similar circumstances or know of any? Share your stories with us and how they were dealt with.  Post them here and join the discussion.


 
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Katharine
March 17, 2013
The vignette also contains implications for handling diversity issues.


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claire
February 18, 2013
Speak with guy who can't drink and ask if he's ok with others drinking. If he's not, then manager must decide for team what to do. Don't assume he can't be there with the team.


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Linda
October 07, 2011
Each team member should be responsible for their own actions in an out of hours event and this is not the responsibility of the manager in my view. One option to be inclusive would have been to have the event in a venue which did not serve alcohol and then for the rest of the team to go on to a venue with alcohol for after meal drinks. I have similar restrictions but I have explained to my colleagues and they have no problem if I excuse myself from the event so that they can relax and enjoy the evening and my beliefs are not compromised. This works out fine for everyone as it's not as though this is the only way the team ever celebrates or gets together so I am able to take part in other events - e.g. family day at the park etc. It's not a complex issue in my experience and revolves around mutual respect.


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Victoria
September 21, 2011
In an after hours event, held at a location that offers alcohol, and it is allowed by company policy, then the group should be able to order what they wish. It is Mahad's right also to depart should this be offensive to him. I believe in America we are becoming too overly considerate of every small group's whim and have adjusted our policies to accomodate them, rather than the groups at large. If we were in another country they would not adjust their celebration to accommodate one American. Company policy can be reviewed and if it is changed, then each employee has the option to comply or leave.


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Debra
September 20, 2011
I believe the manager has to fall back on company policy. If company policy allows alcohol to be consumed at an after hours function than this should be explained to Mahad. The manager should convey that he understands and respects Mahad's believes, but where do you draw the line. If the next person's religion is against eating meat, would everyone be told not to eat meat. Company policy should be explained.


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Eric
September 19, 2011
Bill could ask Carlo a question similar to this: Would you like to be isolated from the work group? If Bill is a really good manager, he could tweak the question to match Carlo's personality (logical, feeling, power, fun etc).


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Colleen
September 16, 2011
I probably should mention I am commenting on the printed scenario. I was unable to launch the video.


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Colleen
September 16, 2011
Great ideas! If I were the manager, I would suggest an alternative that honors the objective of the celebration. I'm not sure what that is for this scenario since I don't know what they are celebrating. I also believe that when tasked with it, the team members often find a resolution that will work for everyone. The manager does not have to feel fully responsible for the decision.


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Jeff
September 16, 2011
Carlos should chug the beer before Mahad gets there. That should keep him on his managers good side.


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Janette
September 15, 2011
There are great comments here already. I want to take the situation from a different perspective. An individual team member who is of a culture different to the majority of the team is not in reality the influencer, nor should be the influencer. I've worked in the Middle East and been in a team that was predominantly Indian. I attended work functions where the menu was vegetarian and no alcohol was available. The manager did not adjust the occasion to fit my culture. Bill is being sensitive to Mahad but at a level that serves to alienate Carlos from his own culture. Mahad should decline to attend, or if Carlos and colleagues agree to eat first without alcohol, then the team as a whole spends time together, but Mahad excuses himself to allow others to celebrate in a way they are accustomed to.


posted by: Moore Eric
September 19, 2011
Paul in the Bible (1st Corinthians 10 1:33) offers good advice. In those verses, Paul addresses situations in which christians are permitted to do something and someone else is not permitted (for whatever reason) to do the same thing. In summary, my interpretation is that I should abstain from whatever someone else is not permitted to do when I am in his/her/their presence so I would not be condemned by him/her/them nor would I lead/tempt him/her/them to violate his/her/their beliefs. Paul does not mention which belief is in the majority or minority so I interpret that as not being important.

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Ellen
September 15, 2011
I like Dawn's perspective, but another option since the meeting has already been scheduled and people are on their way - have the meeting without the beer and then invite those who want to stay afterwards to enjoy the beer.

posted by: Rivera Marsha
March 06, 2012
Since I cannot see the video and the description does not specifically say the event has already been scheduled, I feel this is a great compromise. However, I have to agree with Dawn in that the celebration should take place on-site, with an invitation off-site to enjoy a drink. This will accommodate all team members.

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Dawn
September 15, 2011
In hindsight, since Bill knew about Mahad's beliefs re: alcohol (and the fact that his other team members do drink), he should have (a) either scheduled the celebration on work time at work (where company policy makes drinking alcohol a moot point) OR (b) held the celebration at a restaurant that does not serve alcohol.


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karen
September 15, 2011
This is a tough question - what does a person do to try to be open and not step on someone else's beliefs, yet still do what they want to do? Carlos is within his rights to have a beer - but from a team perspective should he do something that may divide the team? Mahad has his beliefs but what happens when those create a problem in the secular world?

These are concerns that people of faith have - regardless of the faith.

If I were in Carlos' shoes, I would not have the beer at the table. If I were Mahad, I would find a way to understand my religion to only be concerned about what I drink and not those around me - he may need to "broaden his path."


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