A meeting interrupted by a Lady Gaga ringtone. An inappropriate photo from the office holiday party posted on Facebook. A staff member who celebrates “casual Friday” by wearing ripped jeans. The apparent lack of business manners among some employees is enough to make Miss Manners ashamed. Here are a few office manners faux pas that might be hurting moral and business:
- Cell phone manners – For many businesses, mobile communication helps staff members communicate efficiently and effectively. The problem is that, for some employees, those ringing devices take precedence over anything else that might be going on. One way to combat electronic interruptions is to remind team members to turn off ringers at the onset of a meeting.
- Social network etiquette – Some employees may not realize that what’s posted on their personal social network profile may be seen by others, including current and future employers, business colleagues, vendors, or clients. Staff can protect themselves by changing profile settings to a higher protection level. That includes altering settings to prevent friends from “tagging” the employee in a compromising photo taken during a wild party.
- Writing etiquette – Many of us have become accustomed to using acronyms and emoticons, especially in emails and text messages. The challenge is that it’s not always appropriate office behavior, regardless of whether the message is intended for a colleague or a client. Employees should send a professionally-appropriate message by spelling out each word, using full sentences, and leaving the emoticons for personal tweets. KWIM?
- Appropriate clothing – Wardrobes that are more akin to club night than “casual dress” are another source of inappropriate office behavior. T-shirts, worn jeans, and too-tight clothing can make co-workers and customers feel uncomfortable, which means that HR professionals may need to craft wardrobe guidelines.
If employees are violating business etiquette on a regular basis, does that mean you need to send them to manners school? Well, experts say that business manners classes are increasingly popular across all age groups.
Yet sending everyone to business etiquette camp may not be practical for most firms. However you choose to handle it, whether through classes or a company-wide policy, place the emphasis on how good office manners help colleagues work together comfortably. What’s more, note that appropriate office behavior presents a professional image that helps build relationships with all stakeholders, from the boss and the media to vendors and customers.
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Some managers may believe that their job is not to be the office manners maven, yet when employees don’t play by good business etiquette rules it can be bad for morale and bad for business. Start considering whether simple business manners guidelines will help your team be more cohesive and appear more like the savvy professionals they are.
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