Emily Post, considered by many to have helped shaped societal etiquette norms in the latter half of the 20th century, once said:
“Nothing is less important than which fork you use. Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces everything. It is ethics. It is honor.”
I love the link between “manners” and “honor”! Here’s an even more interesting connection to ponder: are your manners as a manager making the grade?
Here are five ways to help you mind your “p’s” and “q’s” on a daily basis:
Make Introductions. Just as a good host will welcome a newcomer into their home, so too, will a mannerly leader ensure that the newly arrived employee is properly shown the ropes. Don’t be like that manager I once heard of – who was so preoccupied with the daily urgencies of his job that he forgot to procure an office chair for his new hire – who then ended up sitting on a milk crate for the better part of his first week.
Keep your word. One form of honor is “one’s word given as a guarantee of performance” – are you keeping promises to your team? Nothing will give you a failing grade in etiquette faster than continually failing to deliver.
Open doors. In today’s world, the courtesy of opening an actual door is considered archaic by many, but leaders can still do this in a metaphorical sense. As Bill Treasurer, author of Leaders Open Doors says, every time you create an opportunity for employees, you have opened the door of possibility towards their professional growth.
Say “thank you”. Sincere gratitude never goes out of style. Whether it’s an old-fashioned hand-written note or a quick team huddle, showing appreciation lets people know that their contributions mattered.
RSVP. It amazes me how many people don’t bother to RSVP for social functions. Call me old-fashioned, but this is just plain rude. The same holds for business invitations: if you can’t attend then let the meeting organizer know in advance. And if you do show up – be truly present.
You don’t have to carry around a book on etiquette to be a good manager. Leading with honorable intention will take you a long way towards ensuring your daily actions are bringing out the best in your team. Regardless of title, we all deserve the same courtesies – respect and thoughtfulness – as team players in the organization. The old adage, “treat others like you want to be treated” holds true in all aspects of life and business. I once read a sign in a Montessori school that read: “Be Kind” and it is truly that simple. Manners foster good will, comradery, and mutual respect.
Discussion question: What do “managerial manners” mean to you?
You might also be interested in my post on the SmartBlog on Leadership site: The etiquette of career development
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