We are – more so than companies in other sectors – in the relationship business: we work in “public relations”, “media relations” and “employee engagement” amongst other fields, so we think long and hard about connections between people, and how to influence relationships, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. As marketing professionals, we’re also interested in social trends – but you’ve noticed the decline of ties and pinstripes too.
Apart from office appropriate dress (and we’d suggest not too low cut) what does “Manners in the workplace” really mean?
It means consistent considerate behaviour towards colleagues (senior or junior), towards customers or clients, towards suppliers and towards any other relevant stakeholders. It includes being fully prepared and punctual for meetings, conference calls and other appointments; it means clearing up after yourself, respecting personal space, not shouting or being aggressive, trying to maintain a civilised atmosphere. The general principles can be outlined, with illustrative examples, in less than one hundred words. More specific policies on the etiquette regarding use of technology, the use of personal devices in the workplace and social media would take longer…
If a client requested copy on business etiquette – for example for a company targeting recent graduates, or mothers returning to work, then Changeworks would happily write it – we create and manage persuasive content across print, digital and social channels, but otherwise advising on etiquette is not really part of our role. However, an awareness of the issues informs the way we undertake media campaigns, run new product launch events, conduct reputation audits, provide lobbying support and the other services you would expect from a PRAC accredited agency- and it also informs the way we treat job applicants and suppliers.
Are good manners a potential source of significant competitive advantage? That might appear to be overstating the benefits of courtesy- but customer care is key to the success of service sector businesses, especially where the service is otherwise largely undifferentiated. But perhaps it would be more convincing to look at it the other way round. Unreturned phone calls, public reprimands, rude and angry emails, silly excuses and evasions – just some of the countless examples of bad manners in business – come at an enormous cost to employers in any sector, a cost in terms of lost orders, lost repeat business, eroded reputation and eroded morale
One key aspect of good manners is not going on too long or repeating the same points again and again – so this is a good point to stop.