Ms Manners for Managers

I recently witnessed a manager in a store upbraiding a salesperson for wearing an outfit that didn’t fit her definition of appropriate. It reminded me of the importance of basic management ettiquette.

Management etiquette isn’t about using the right fork and or choosing the right wine — it’s about the message that behavior broadcasts.

I know these things seem like common sense…..but I see managers violate these simple rules often enough that I’m going on a rant.

#1 Keep performance discussions private

Performance conversations need to happen one-on-one and in private. Public reprimands and behavior corrections send the message that the manager doesn’t respect the people he/she works with.

(Of course, there’s an exception: if it’s a “progressive discipline” situation or the discussion involves ethics, illegality, or sexual harassment, etc., have the HR person present, too).

#2 Respect people’s space

Most employees are assigned a desk, some drawers and a bit or workspace when the start the job. Even though the company owns these things, people regard them as their own little spots. They organize it the way that fits for them, put their family pictures up, and generally claim them.

Unless there’s an HR reason to be looking, don’t look through peoples drawers and inboxes. Rummaging through someone else’s workspace looks like snooping. It’s not very becoming behavior, and it doesn’t contribute to an atmosphere of trust and respect.

I had one boss who just didn’t get it, even after I asked him to stay out of my desk… but I quashed the behavior when I observed that he didn’t go into the drawer where I kept “feminine supplies”…. Probably won’t work if you’re a guy, but who knows.

If a manager has to look through someone’s desk to find some piece of code or design… well, thats a CM issue. Stop rummaging and start treating corporate assets like corporate assets.

AND, it’s probably best not to keep anything in desk drawers that you wouldn’t want everyone to see.

#3 Recognize other people’s work as important

I had a friend whose boss routinely poked his head into her project meetings to deliver information or call her out for a brief tete a tete on issues that could very well wait. (And she contributed to this pattern by accepting his interruptions.)

He was sending the message that what ever his current issue was — no matter how trivial — it was more important than anything they were doing.

I think there are some cases that are an exception to this rule… like telling someone the building is on fire, or there’s a family emergency…

#4 Respect people’s privacy

The same boss who rummaged through my desk drawers also wanted to know the details of my symptoms when I called in sick. (I quashed his nosiness behavior, too…. probably not very adult.)

‘Taint the manager’s business what the symptoms are. If a manager sees a pattern of absentism, that’s a different conversation (and the manager still doesn’t need to know the symptoms).

What would you add?