Is Business Etiquette Dead?

What if I said businesses should create a CEO position, and I don’t mean Chief Executive Officer. I mean Chief Etiquette Officer. Do you think this is a good idea? I can remember my mother standing over me, watching me write thank you notes to those who gave me presents for my birthday. And at the time it felt like she just about ruined the holiday spirit when she made me do the same for any other holiday that I received gifts. It would seem that most people in businesses today didn’t have mothers with the same sense of etiquette as mine (and yours too, right?). What ever happened to common etiquette in business? Common sense like common etiquette can be lost in this digital, social networking age. I would argue we need it now more than ever.

In the world of recession, work and human resources there seems to be more and more stories about how people have sent resumes into companies never to receive even an acknowledgment of receipt, or had an interview and never got any feedback, even though they thought it was the best interview of their life, were well qualified and sent the best thank you letter, ever. What about those emails that were sent to specific people, especially if you were referred to them and referenced your contact, who they supposedly knew? No return email? Didn’t these people have he kind of conscientious mothers we had?

Whether you’re looking for a job or not, this is the day of email and communication overload. It’s time consuming just to keep up. Respond to emails? Are you kidding! However, I’m reminded of an old saying; “if you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it”. People find time to do the things that are important to them, their families and their companies. Career Coach John M. O’Connor, who works with executives in transition says this: “Many people in recruiting and human resources are overwhelmed. Many human resource tracking systems have only clinical, automated ways to let candidates know about the hiring process or where they stand. So it’s up to the individual to use their own etiquette to follow through. I think people in recruiting know that it’s important but they don’t know or haven’t had so many requests. I understand their side but I also understand the candidate side. Both parties need to treat people with high respect and regard. That’s an effort but in the long run the right thing to do.”

And what part of business is more important than its people. In my experience as a marketing executive, my teams learn that building long-term relationships within the organization and with customers is a key component of success, for themselves and the business. Understanding and exercising etiquette is a critical component of building relationships. It creates impact, it’s appreciated, and, perhaps most importantly, it’s remembered. Hiring is usually the first point of personal contact between and individual and a company. It is arguably the most important, i.e. you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Hire the right people, treat them with respect, nurture them so they can reach their full potential and you will have a successful business.

The way in which a company treats people from the start influences how those people view the company. And the way in which it hires speaks volumes about the company’s values and culture. If you’ve been treated right during the hiring process, chances are that you will be treated right as an employee. For those who aren’t hired, how they are treated during this process could determine whether or not the company gains, or loses, a customer. Aren’t you more inclined to buy a product from a company that takes the time to acknowledge you in the hiring process? It’s common sense but how many hiring people seem to forget this?

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