Corporate Bad manners: A manager’s guide

There are many things that Block-chain, Machine learning, Natural Language Processing et.al can solve, but one thing that they are yet to sort out is plain old bad manners.

Last week I was having a discussion with a friend of mine on the evolution of the workplace and how the ever changing workplace demographics is affecting what we call organisational manners. One of the things we quickly agreed on is that whereas on the one hand technology and the whole digital transformation has impacted how we work, play and live, on the other hand the bureaucracy at the work place especially among the older generation has not evolved much in terms of delivery of employee experience – how the employees interact with the whole organizational machinery. We agreed among other things that corporate bad manners is a major occurrence in today’s evolving workplace.

So what exactly is corporate bad manners really?

The phenomenon of Corporate Bad manners (As we coined the term) simply put, is behavior by employees, particularly senior personnel or people in leadership positions within the organization (since naturally they are expected to lead the way even in mannerism) that is essentially ego driven and has no rationality whatsoever. Here are a few examples:

  • Hoarding International/business Trips: One of the things that people in leadership positions MUST avoid is putting self interest before practical business or professional and people management decisions. There is no better way to communicate to your team (especially junior staff) how self centered you are as a manager than to take trips just because you can (or to earn Per diem 😊 ). Simply put, this is BAD MANNERS. It goes a long way to ensure that your direct reports or the team you lead are given an opportunity to attend both “their level” events and “above their level” events. .
  • Taking More Pens/Books/Cake/Free Beer than you need: This is one of the craziest thing I have observed in organizations. Whenever free beer, cake or even chocolates or indeed T-shirts , water bottles et.al are brought to be shared, people for some reason feel the need to take more than what is enough for them. Recently I asked a colleague of mine why they find it necessary to take almost a full bowl of Cake yet first they can afford to buy it if they wanted, and secondly other people were yet to take a piece – the eye roll that i received and “shida yako ni nini?” I walked away and asked God to teach me silence. Guys, taking more cake than you need or more notebooks than you need is a poverty mentality that you need to exorcise out of your system and is plain BAD MANNERS.

“Every Office has two people who do all the work and 12 people who walk around with bottles full of water, cucumber and lemon”

  • Peeping behind People’s workstations: Micromanagement in the digital age is one of the best ways to lose talent. As managers, sometimes we are tempted to want to go into the details of what our teams are doing without decorum. Looking at their workstations – particularly PC/Screens is a classic example of not “minding your own business” and just plain BAD MANNERS. Resist the temptation to walk around looking at what people are doing as it is not only uncouth but also plainly creepy. It helps to accord people personal space in the workplace and in this age, there is probably nothing more personal than your employees electronic devices and their lunch/snack boxes.

Bringing it all Together

There are indeed many things and benefits of technological advancements in the workplace, however, there are a number of things that Blockchain, AI and Machine learning et.al still cannot help us overcome at the moment, one of them is plain old BAD MANNERS. As managers, or leaders, let me know what other things you would classify simply as bad manners.

Remember, the real test of good manners is to be able to put up with bad manners pleasantly.

Have a fantastic Weekend!

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