Coping with Poor Business Etiquette

Bad behavior can become an epidemic if left unchecked. It is often difficult for management to monitor office etiquette if everyone is on their best behavior when the boss walks by. This creates frustration among teammates when working with offenders.

There are a few simple strategies to help restore peace and professionalism to the workplace.

Be the example. In the infamous, and potentially misquoted, words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Everyone is a role model, especially management. In fact, managers can sometimes be “patient X” of the poor etiquette epidemic. Be friendly, helpful, and encouraging to colleagues.

Know the policies. Before intervening on bad behavior, check the employee handbook or with a human resource representative to ensure that you fully understand all the policies and procedures that are in place pertaining to this bad behavior.

Have a heart to heart. Calmly talk with the offender. Many times they are unaware that their actions are in poor taste or are negatively affecting others. Most people wish to perform well and to be seen in a positive light by their management. Having a conversation may be all that is needed in many cases.

Remember, you do not need to like everyone you work with and they do not need to like you, but you do need to be able to approach them appropriately, and be heard. Everyone in the office, personnel structure aside, should be able to peacefully coexist. Poor business etiquette impacts everyone’s productivity and morale. As a leader, it is important to lead by example when it comes to proper manners at work. You set the tone and tempo of all dealings within the office, whether work related or personnel related. Dealing with offenders can be intimidating, but doing so appropriately and consistently sets the standard for what is and is not acceptable, and it will ultimately help everyone in the end.

What is Public Policy & How Does the Chamber Fit In?

Public policy is best described as the broad area of government laws, regulations, court decisions, and local ordinances.

Today, government affects all aspects of our lives. Everyone has a stake in the public policies enacted by federal, state, and local governments. The fundamental activity of the Chamber of Commerce is to develop and implement policy on major issues affecting business.

Ensuring that laws and legislation remain conducive to the communities’ healthy and vibrant business climate is a top priority for the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber provides a structure for business leaders to communicate effectively with government. That is why the Chamber is your direct connection to local, state, and federal governmental officials and policy-makers. Through Public Policy programs, events, and committees, Chamber members have an opportunity to stay up to date on top business, civic, and social priorities.

The Public Policy Committee is charged by the Chamber Board of Directors to develop, articulate and reinforce the Chamber’s position as the voice of business in the Dallas area with local, state, and federal political and policy leaders. Through an integrated approach of developing public policy positions then proactively advocating for those positions with all levels of elected leadership, the Chamber is able to leverage the influence of its large and diverse membership to ensure that the voice of business is heard.

If you have any questions or concerns about public policy or legislatives that affect business’ you are encouraged to stop by your local Chamber.

What is Public Policy and How Does the Chamber Fit In?

Public policy is best described as the broad area of government laws, regulations, court decisions, and local ordinances.

Today, government affects all aspects of our lives. Everyone has a stake in the public policies enacted by federal, state, and local governments. The fundamental activity of the Chamber of Commerce is to develop and implement policy on major issues affecting business.

Ensuring that laws and legislation remain conducive to the communities’ healthy and vibrant business climate is a top priority for the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber provides a structure for business leaders to communicate effectively with government. That is why the Chamber is your direct connection to local, state, and federal governmental officials and policy-makers. Through Public Policy programs, events, and committees, Chamber members have an opportunity to stay up to date on top business, civic, and social priorities.

The Public Policy Committee is charged by the Chamber Board of Directors to develop, articulate and reinforce the Chamber’s position as the voice of business in the Dallas area with local, state, and federal political and policy leaders. Through an integrated approach of developing public policy positions then proactively advocating for those positions with all levels of elected leadership, the Chamber is able to leverage the influence of its large and diverse membership to ensure that the voice of business is heard.

If you have any questions or concerns about public policy or legislatives that affect business’ you are encouraged to stop by your local Chamber.

Don’t Dress Down

Networking outside the office is your best chance to meet new people beyond your corporate circle who can help promote your career. It’s also a no-man’s land when it comes to the dress code.

Networking is not an interview, and once outside the office, the strict rules of the dress code no longer apply. You’re left on your own to overdress and look like you don’t belong or under dress and look like you’ll never belong.

If you’re not sure what everyone will be wearing, ask around to ensure that you won’t be the only one sans suit. When in doubt, business casual is your best bet. But the clothes call could run the gamut from a suit to jeans. Networking outside the office, with more focus on culture and entertainment, is also the perfect opportunity to be more fashion forward and express yourself. This is not a free pass to don your sequined ‘80s jumpsuit, but wear your favorite colors; accessorize; and, most of all, smile.

Remember, dress for success every day, no matter what’s on the agenda – you never who you will run into on your lunch break. Our appearance contributes to how people perceive us. Take control of your appearance. Make sure people perceive you the way you want to be perceived.

Office Etiquette 101

Emily Post said it best when she stated that “Manners are the sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” Proper office etiquette is an essential business tool. It impacts your reputation with your team, colleagues, and customers. Unfortunately there are no universal rules that govern all workplaces. However, the basics of good etiquette translate to all settings and industries.

What are the basics?

“When in Rome…” What you ear to work can affect the impression you leave upon others and your overall productivity. While comfort is important, wearing workout attire to an office where your team members and colleagues are wearing khakis and button-down shirts is not advised. The rule of thumb is to dress as you expect your team to dress.

Keep personal grooming, personal. There is a big difference between applying some lip balm or hand cream at your desk and giving yourself a complete manicure. Desks and offices are for performing work. All grooming, including makeup application and hair brushing, should be done in the restroom. Manicures should be limited to your home or the salon. If you remember that is completely inappropriate for your company pay you to do your hair and nails at work, or to do anything that is necessarily something to be done on your own time, then your subordinates will remember that too. It would be extremely difficult for you to reprimand this bad be3havior with your subordinates if they know you do the same thing. You should strive to always lead by example. Doing so will always make your life easier at work, both in correcting behavior and in maintaining productivity.

Table manners. Offices are not dining areas. Eating at your desk not only decreases productivity, but is annoying to those around you. No one wants to hear you chewing on your salad. They especially do not want to smell your leftover fish or last night’s spicy delight. Be mindful of what you bring for lunch. If there is a break room or a kitchen, then use it. This will keep your office space neat and work-focused., as well as allow you to casually catch up with your staff. When you are done eating, clean up after yourself.

Voices carry. As more offices remove their cubicle walls for an open concept workspace, voice control is imperative. Mind your volume when talking to the team or colleagues in open areas.

Sick time is available for a reason, use it! The absolute worst violation of proper business etiquette is going to work when ill. Staying home and resting will help the recovery process and prevent the spread of germs throughout the office. Honestly, it is worse to infect everyone, thereby risking temporary lulls in productivity, than it is to leave the team in order to recover and to rely on another manager for a few days. This is where leading by example is key.

These basics of proper office etiquette are universal. Adhering to them shows a level of leadership that will encourage your colleagues and teams to maintain an environment conducive to optimal productivity by adopting the same office habits.

Communicate to Impress

Effective communication can impress anyone, at any time, in any place, and through any medium. Some of the best communication opportunities happen in the most unlikely places. A great example when you see someone use an “elevator pitch”. This term was first coined to define the scenario of a chance meeting with someone important in an elevator. The goal is to have a clear, concise message that can be delivered within the time it takes to ride an elevator, which would then lead to an exchange of business cards or an interest to continue that conversation outside the elevator.

The concept of creating an impression in two minutes or less is even more powerful in a world full of urgency and instant gratification, such as ours. Chance meetings can happen anywhere, not just elevators or city sidewalks. They can happen online through social media, online forums, or even within the comment sections of blogs you frequent. Many of the elements of an effective elevator pitch can be translated to social media interactions. Some of the best talent can be discovered through these chance meetings.

Remember, KISS – Keep It Super Simple! Your message should be professional, but able to be understood by anyone regardless of their level of education or literacy. This means replacing complex concepts and jargon with common terminology in such a way that anyone in your audience can appreciate not just the message, but the direction and the impacts that your message communicates.

Know your stuff. Know the subject matter of what you are talking about. Always be prepared for follow-up questions and how they need to be answered. This means doing your research and tailoring your message to the audience. Tailoring your message can be a challenge when chance encounters happen in person. However, when communicating to impress on LinkedIn or other social media sites, it is easier to understand your intended audience.

Secretly sell yourself. Highlight your unique abilities and accomplishments as well as the value you add to the potential relationship. Showing off your assets without overtly selling yourself leaves a lasting impression. Top talent is drawn to leaders that know how to subtly sell the organization, especially when done in a way that they can see themselves blending nicely into the goals and culture of that organization.

Follow up. Timely follow-up via phone, text, or social media keeps the conversation at the forefront of the mind. Regardless of the situation, following up a day or two after the initial meeting shows your interest and professionalism. This could be the difference between becoming memorable or quickly forgotten.

Perfecting your elevator pitch can make a huge difference in how effectively you communicate in a variety of social situations and how you are viewed by those who can be the next great asset to your team or partner to your goals.

Become a Great Communicator

Every living being communicates. Dogs bark, birds sing, and primates use hand gestures and noises akin to speech. Effective communication is needed in all areas of life. Paul Meyer describes communication best when he says, “Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal career success.” While basic communication skills are inherent, advanced skills that lead one to becoming a great communicator takes practice.

Effective communication begins with listening. Too many times, people are either thinking about their responses or about something else entirely, and they fail to completely listen to the other person. By doing this, you lose focus on the conversation and may find out, in embarrassment, that your response is completely off base. When you are not listening, you are creating a one-sided conversation that shows others that you really do not care about what they have to say. Showing a genuine interest in learning what others think and feel about any matter they find worth discussing will place you in a position to be the one they go to for encouragement and to brainstorm solutions to difficult problems – because what you say in response will all of a sudden matter, too.

Focusing on your interactions shows respect. Checking emails, texting, or engaging in social media while in a conversation is rude. Great communicators respect those they are with by putting away or turning off their electronic devices when engaged in conversation. One-on-one conversations are becoming a lost art because of the ease of technology. Eliminate the distractions and hone in your listening skills.

When communicating to anyone be specific. Make your message clear. Doing so ensures that you are heard and understood in the way you intended. If giving instructions, provide details in order to avoid confusion and ensure better outcomes. When setting up appointments, be specific about your availability and give details about the time, location, who else will be in attendance. Frustration occurs when specific details are not shared and people have to go back and do something that could have easily been done correctly the first time.

While being specific is very important, it is also important to simplify your message. Make certain that what you are communicating is understandable. If the thought is confused in your mind, it will most certainly be confusing to the person you are communicating with. Take the time to think through what you need to convey. Pauses should not be feared, especially if that pause helps you communicate your point clearly and more effectively.

Finally, ask questions. Great communicators ask questions and they are not afraid to get specific. Taking a genuine interest in learning more about people and what they think, feel, and experience helps keep the conversation going and shows that you are engaged. People appreciate it when someone wants to get to know them better and the knowledge gained through great interactions can help you further yourself both personally and professionally.

Effective communication is a great skill for everyone to have. It is also a necessary skill in order to get along successfully in the world around you. It is a lost art by many that can be easily revived by practicing your listening skills, being specific, and asking questions.

Dallas School District is Seeking Public Input on the Naming of Two Facilities

Oakdale Heights Multi-Purpose Room

Name after: Ian Tawney

Ian Tawney grew up in Dallas and attended Oakdale, and graduated from DHS in 2003. He enlisted in the Marines, and served honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan until his death in combat on October 16, 2010.

Community member Request: Our kids deserve heroes. I believe it would be most fitting to provide present and future Oakdale students with the chance to become better acquainted with Ian. They need to learn about people who spend their life giving more than they take. People that make themselves better by lifting up the people around them. They need to understand that true courage is not the lack of fear, but in doing what must be done even when you are afraid.

Please send your input by March 29th to michelle.johnstone@dsd2.org

 

Dallas High School Track

Name after: Paul and Judee Ward

Community member request: The Ward’s have made a noteworthiness and significant contribution to DHS athletics. Paul has been a two-time DHS Head track and field coach and long-time assistant coach whose career spanned nearly sixty years. Paul’s dedication to Dallas High School athletics is legendary with his influence going beyond just coaching. It includes imparting his knowledge on to several other coaches over the years, and keeping kids involved no matter what their particular life situations happen to be. Paul was a major advocate for student athletes going through difficult life changes and seeing to it that they had the same opportunity to participate as others. Both the Wards have made tremendous impact on all athletic programs by donating funding, building materials, equipment, and literally thousands of hours toward facility improvements at time when the district lacked the funding and personnel to put toward maintaining aging facilities. Paul and Judee Ward have held a high level dedication for the track program year in and out for several decades.

Please send your input by March 29th to Tim.Larson@dsd2.or

8 Ways to Get More Out of Your Chamber of Commerce Membership

There are many reasons to join your local Chamber of Commerce. Some of the obvious ones are networking opportunities, community involvement, political advocacy, and the trust that Chamber affiliation builds with your customers. Of course, there are many more benefits you receive from becoming a Chamber member, but many people don’t fully enjoy them. They wrongly assume that by simply paying their annual membership dues lots of new business and friends will automatically show up. Without understanding how to make their Chamber experience work for them they give up on the Chamber in frustration.

If all you do is pay your membership fee you will get a welcome letter and a nice sticker to put on your front door. However, if you invest in building trusting, professional relationships with others through the Chamber the rewards in leads, sales, and friendships are potentially game changing for your business. Here are several ways to get more out of the Chamber by investing in other members.

  1. Sign up for their newsletters or updates.
    A great way to learn more about your peers at the Chamber and how you can support their business is to sign up for their company newsletter, directory, or weekly email.
  2. Support them online.
    Support other Chamber members through any of the social media outlets they use and tell your network about them as well. Have you experienced their service or product first hand? Show your support by writing positive product reviews online. 
  3. Submit their news to other groups you are part of.
    Be sure to share your Chamber peers’ news with other groups you may be part of. Think about professional, LinkedIn, or civic groups for example. 
  4. Invite them to be part of your seminars.
    Invite fellow Chamber members to come speak at your company functions or the business seminars you are hosting. They will appreciate the opportunity to showcase their area of expertise and you will enhance your event with guest speakers. 
  5. Share or trade skills and expertise.
    We are all experts at something. What is your “something”? Share that something with someone else at the Chamber. If you are good at writing ad copy and someone else is good at printing sales flyers then offer to share skills. You will probably help each attract more business this way. 
  6. Introduce them to your friends.
    Be the first person to approach new Chamber members when they arrive. Be friendly and introduce them to others in the group. Your gesture will be remembered and appreciated forever. 
  7. Bring them to other functions.
    Perhaps you are member of other organizations in addition to the Chamber. Invite one or two of your Chamber peers to attend other functions with you as your guest. Introduce them to your other associates. This will increase their circle of connections and you will look like a master networker. 
  8. Use their business first.
    Support your fellow Chamber members by giving them preference when you shop. For example, if you need replacement windows for your home and one of the window companies is a Chamber member, give that company your business. Even if they cost a little more, the goodwill your business generates can be invaluable.

Sometimes Saying “Goodbye” is not Easy

The decision to proceed with releasing a team member should be well thought-out. Many managers avoid terminating “ok” or even “bad” employees because they are conflict-adverse, have self-doubt, or are unable to separate their concern for the person from the performance. The price of keeping these employees is high. “Ok” and “bad” employees can decrease morale within the team and organization, decrease long-term productivity, and can have negative effects on customer satisfaction and revenues. It also compromises your leadership ability.

There are four signs that it is time to say “goodbye”:

  1. There is a lack of progress or follow-through on projects.
  2. There is a disregard for organizational processes or procedures.
  3. There is a lack of trust.
  4. They have a poor attitude, especially if their attitude is spreading throughout the team.

The first step in the termination process is to create an outline of what steps the employee can take towards improvement. This should include very specific expectations, goals, and a 30-day deadline to meet expectations. Provide examples whenever possible. This outline should be shared with upper management and human resources.

The second step is to have a very honest conversation with the team member. Some organizations prefer to have a representative of upper management or human resources attend this meeting. Present the outline and answer any questions the employee may have. During this meeting allow the employee to share their thoughts on their performance. Emphasize that they have 30 days to show improvement. Also provide a copy of the outline to include any clarifications spelled out in detail to the employee and to any upper management representatives that may be present during this meeting.

During the 30-day improvement time, check in with the team member at least weekly. Also begin the hiring process for their replacement. This reduces the need to have other team members pick up the slack for an extended period of time once their colleague is gone. If after 30 days there is no measurable improvement, it is time to have one last honest conversation terminating the employee.

In the end, creating a plan of improvement will help both manager and employee remove any doubt in regards to employee performance and general fit within the company’s culture and its goals. It also allows the team member to prove themselves and receive coaching or mentoring they may require. While termination is never pleasant for either party involved, sometimes it is the best decision.