Managers: Let’s Not Forget the Basics

Recently, many workers have come to me to complain about a lack of respect and courtesy that seems to be growing, both within peer groups and with supervisors. The complaints stem around etiquette and courtesy specifically the scarcity of a “thank-you,” you’re welcome,” and “how may I help you?” in daily conversations.

You may now be saying to yourself, “Hold on, I am already extremely polite – I say “hello”, hold the door open for people and thank people.” If so, I salute you, but encourage you to do more.  Workplace evidence shows that employees want to work at a place where they feel respected, appreciated and valued.  As supervisors, you would be remiss to not convey to your staff that your organization values courtesy, kindness and helpfulness.  Consider these five steps:

  1. Set clear expectations and think about establishing a code of conduct:  If the concept of a “kinder, gentler organization” is a new one, be sure to have the CEO convey the concept to the team in a positive, upbeat fashion. It will be up to you in management to set the example by being responsive and practicing what your preaching.
  2. Reward good behavior.   Ask yourself:  do you reward those who go out of their way to be good employees, or do you simply expect them to behave well? Let’s be honest, most of the time bad behavior gets the attention.  Focusing on and rewarding good behavior, action and deeds will almost always get the behavioral changes you are looking for among your staff.  As managers, be sure to comment on even small efforts made by employees, such as using “please” and “thank-you,” and maintaining a helpful attitude.
  3. Send personal notes.  Nothing takes the place of a personal note from you the boss. When you hear about someone who has been especially courteous to a customer or colleague, write a quick note thanking them for exemplifying those traits you are eager to promote. I guarantee that once that employee knows you appreciate his or her efforts, that behavior will continue, and s/he will become a role model for others.
  4. Get Buy-in.  If you have an employee infamous for their temper tantrums, screaming fits or power trips, take the opportunity to put them on notice that their past behavior is no longer acceptable. Offer counseling, set up a performance improvement plan, or suggest the employee contact the EAP if you feel that the unacceptable behavior can be overcome. If the person simply lacks interpersonal skills and does not see the need to change, you may be moving towards progressive discipline eventually asking for his or her resignation.

Remember these rules of etiquette and common courtesy have been in place a long time.  We just need to be reminded to use them especially when the end result is that your employees are happier, which leads to higher productivity and satisfied customers.  Seems like a very nice cycle.  Managers, what etiquette and courtesy have you demonstrated today?

photo credit


About Patricia Knight
Hello and welcome. My name is Patricia Knight. Thank you for taking the time to view my blog. I’m a Human Resources professional who is currently pursing an MBA at the University of Nevada-Reno. I am an analytical, detail-oriented professional who believes that collaboration and negotiation are critical for successful employee relations between leadership and employees.

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