Blogs

Jo Geraghty

Director

Working manners

Date added: 31st Oct 2014
Category: Customer Experience

Learning about good company culture with a little help from Debrett's. We tend to talk about culture, about employee engagement, in terms of profitability and of customer service and of longevity but if the culture is one which respects people as valued individuals then exemplary behaviour follows.

For centuries Debrett’s have been guiding the nation’s behaviour with advice on manners, morals and polite behaviour.  In their latest tranche of guidance they have turned their attention to some of the most pressing behavioural dilemmas of modern life.

Whilst the majority of these relate more to leisure time than to the office, there are a few which cut across business etiquette.  In fact, according to Debrett’s the question which is posed to them more than any other in 2014 relates to mobile use.  Their response is that “it is always rude to pay more attention to a phone than a person in the flesh” and that phones should be put away when transacting other business or when in a space in which silence is desired.

erhaps Debrett’s advice would do well to be broadcast before those interminable business meetings in which everyone apart from the speaker appears to be answering e-mails or texts with little or no attention being paid to the course of the meeting.  From an outside perspective meeting etiquette is one of the clearest signals which one can receive about the state of an organisation’s culture.

Meetings which are tightly scripted, moderated and focused show an organisation which is well on track to meet clear objectives.  Particularly so if the attendees all appear to be there for a positive reason and give their whole attention to the subject as they interact with positivity.  Conversely meetings which are unscripted, which ramble on with attendees either ignoring the subject or trying to drown out others with point scoring or back covering give a clear signal that all is not well with culture or engagement in the organisation.

Another of Debrett’s top ten concerns the policy of blind copying people into e-mails.  Recognising that there are occasions when BCC is necessary to conceal identities they suggest that in those instances the sender addresses the e-mail to themselves and makes it clear that all other recipients are BCC’d.  In other instances Debrett’s sees the use of BCC as deceptive and suggests instead that a separate copy is sent with a note expressing the confidentiality of the contents.

BCC’d or not, the practice of copying e-mails to every single person you can think of again smacks of poor culture.  Whether it is back covering so that you can say that people were copied in if anything goes wrong or whether it is sheer laziness; overwhelming others with e-mail clutter does nothing for organisational cohesion.  True we live in an era in which an innovation culture is strengthened by the cross-fertilisation of ideas but thoughtless broadcasting of long winded reports only serves to take up time and to obscure the real message.

Telephone and e-mail manner in business, smoking e-cigarettes in work and eating smelly food in crowded spaces also come in for the Debrett’s commentary this time around.  And in a way they and the examples shown above all relate to one thing and that is concern for fellow workers, for contacts and for customers.  We tend to talk about culture, about employee engagement, in terms of profitability and of customer service and of longevity but if the culture is one which respects people as valued individuals then exemplary behaviour follows.

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