There are two great reasons I decided to write a blog on this topic. The first is that the combination of good manners, respect for those you work with, and showing appreciation to those who work for you is not only good taste, but it’s also good business. The second great reason for me writing this column is that it will make my mother proud. Yes mom, all those years ago as a kid I was listening, thank you.
From a business perspective, good manners, respect for your colleagues, showing appreciation and being good to those working for you each brings its own advantages.
Good manners to all those you work with, including vendors, peers, your staff, customers, and those above you organizationally help you build a high quality professional brand of being a team player and someone of character. There is an old expression that gets to the heart of the matter on this topic. It says you get more bees with honey than with vinegar. You should be nice to people because it’s the right thing to do, but also feel free to reap the benefits and rewards that common courtesy can help bring.
Showing respect to the people working with you is also the right thing to do, but, like good manners, in the long run can be much to your advantage, or at least not to your disadvantage.
Early in my career I worked with a person, we’ll call him Joe, who for some reason didn’t like the manager of another department within the company. I’ll call this manager Steve. Joe, for some reason, seemed to go out of his way to make things difficult for Steve. Joe would commit to do things and then not deliver. He would also speak poorly about Steve in front of other company employees, including people within Steve’s group. Apparently, there were other people at the company that liked Steve, because he got promoted and became Joe’s new boss. As you can imagine, Joe was quite distressed when he heard about Steve’s promotion. Steve, on the other hand, actually liked this arrangement. Joe left the company about six weeks later before securing a new position.
Lastly, regarding being respectful and showing appreciation to those working for you, it’s a small world. Over time, many of the same people seem to reappear over and over again. As the expression goes, friends come and go in your life, but enemies accumulate.
In this next story, I had a person working for me a few years ago. I thought he did great work, I told him so, and gave him a promotion. Time passed and I went to work for another company. The person I promoted also eventually left the company (I guess it must just not have been the same after I left. Just kidding 🙂 and used me as a professional reference. More time passed, he got promoted again at his new company and I decided to become an entrepreneur and started my company, Manager Mechanics. Even more time went by and we bumped into each other at a conference. This person shortly thereafter became a client. The moral of this story is that I was nice to this person because it was the right thing to do and years later it became a professional advantage.
In closing, I don’t mean to say that every act of professional kindness will eventually be returned or that every unscrupulous action will come back to haunt you, but based on the law of large numbers, the more often that you are kind or the more often you are mean will eventually catch up with you. My suggestion to you today is be courteous, be kind, and be honest. Not only will it make the world a better place, but it can, over time, prove to be one of your greatest professional assets.
Until next time, lead well, always communicate, and think business first and technology second.