Manners maketh

This month in Management Today Philip Delves Broughton asserts that manners matter.

While there are some occassions when time is of the essence and barking orders is essential to prevent disaster or dalliance, there is no excuse for using this method of communication for everyday working practice.  Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ is a complete anathema to some people, who regard courtesy and politeness as an indication that someone is too ‘soft’ on contractors or colleagues.

In his article, Philip examines how bad manners can permeate an entire organisation, having a detrimental effect on morale and staff retention.  Research by US academics found that after a single incident of incivility, 48% of the sample said that they decreased their effort at work, 38% intentionally reduced the quality of their work, 80% spent time worrying about the incident, 66% said their performance declined and 78% said their commitment to their firm declined.  And 12% left.

And while the figures above are shocking, those which relate to clients who witness bad manners among a suppliers employees are very salutatory indeed.  83% would tell someone about the incident, 55% would look less favourably on the company’s products and services and 50% were less willing to use them in future.

Within both events and marketing, failing to respect and acknowledge fellow professionals can have devastating affects:  when the chippies walk off the site because the site manager shouted rather than investigating the issues that were putting them behind schedule; the waiters who accidentally went the long way around a venue because the event manager treated them with little more than contempt; the junior who found themselves in hot water with their boss because they passed the buck once too often.

To some extent bad manners, and management are often caused by stress and excessive workload, but there are those who believe it is their place to treat their subordinates badly and may not even realise they are doing it.  The latter will only be effected by a complete change of culture within an organisation but the former is easily fixed.  A relationship can be repaired in an instant with an acknowledgement of the distress caused and the use of another simple word – sorry.

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