Job Etiquette: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Maybe Aretha Franklin said it best when she immortalized the spelling of R-E-S-P-E-C-T in her hit song; however, the theme remains current in 2016! The discussion over respect continues, as I first…

Source: Job Etiquette: R-E-S-P-E-C-T


Job Etiquette: R-E-S-P-E-C-T


(Credit: Getty Images/

Maybe Aretha Franklin said it best when she immortalized the spelling of R-E-S-P-E-C-T in her hit song; however, the theme remains current in 2016! The discussion over respect continues, as I first wrote about in the spring of 2014, whether it is within our current presidential race or in the workplace. It appears that some people no longer consider being respectful as part of their vocabulary or communication style. We see it in both interviews and employee interactions. Though it’s not usually included in job postings or descriptions as a requirement, problems in the workplace (and elsewhere) can occur without a sense of respect. Employees, their various roles and the workplace as a community all deserve respect in some shape or form. Without it, morale and attitudes can suffer.

RESPECT in the Workplace:

  • Respect your colleagues’ personal space, work space and opinions
  • It’s okay to agree to disagree sometimes, in a respectful manner
  • Respect that people are not perfect and everybody has a bad day
  • Make sure to listen to what people say
  • Make sure to think before you speak
  • Respect your colleague’s opinion even if it is different from your own
  • Being a team player includes showing respect
  • Respect company policies and procedures
  • Be supportive of corporate decisions
  • Be respectful in written communications (e-mails, social media communications, texts)
  • Ensure that your work space (office, cubicle, laboratory) does not include items that might offend others.
  • Turn off your cell phone ringer in the workspace (it can be distracting and unprofessional)
  • Good manners are a sign of respect to guests, visitors and of course, co-workers.
  • Make your parents proud!

I believe that even in the most uncomfortable situations, whether it’s a presidential debate or a misunderstanding between employees, remembering manners and showing respect will always ensure a better outcome. Apply these same tips to your face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews or any interactions, business or social. Be courteous when travelling, and in your everyday interactions with colleagues, neighbors, friends and people you meet. The Friedman sisters (Dear Abby and Ask Ann Landers) made successful careers about teaching readers about this topic in their popular columns. Job Etiquette would like you to revisit your own manners and show us all some RESPECT. Even respecting your rights/others’ rights to vote how they wish in this election can go a long way!

Talk soon!

Job Etiquette: Loss at Work

In prior blogs, I have talked to you about work-related loss. My blog on December 30, 2013 was entitled In Memoriam, reminiscent of award shows and ceremonies at year’s end that remember lost people in their industry. I related loss to issues that affect the people in the workplace.

  • lost employment
  • lost vacation time
  • loss of trust
  • lost “employment status”
  • loss of program
  • loss of benefits
  • lost paychecks
  • lost self esteem and confidence

Job Etiquette would like to talk about another serious loss that is sometimes the most difficult to discuss or handle at work: the death of a co-worker.  I have experienced this in my own workplace and it is a devastating loss just as if it were a family member. Our colleagues often become our “work family” and often, we spend more time with them during the week and sometimes weekends than our own family members. We develop working relationships which often become friendships or connections that last through many jobs and sometimes throughout our lives. Whether it is sudden, an accident, or after an illness, death is final and stark. It is shocking and hard to know what to say or do with the exception of feeling very sad, as well as confronting our own mortality.

What do companies do when an employee dies? Many employers have an EAP benefit, which is an employer assistance program. Often they will send a local grief counselor to the place of business and hold company and one-on-one meetings to talk about the person and the shock of the event. Employees can also contact the EAP individually to talk or perhaps find resources to help them. Employees often attend funerals or memorial services and typically, the company will send something to the family offering condolences. I have known companies who arrange for meals for the family or donate to scholarship programs for children or grandchildren. In time, some companies organize a memorial fund or athletic event (a walk, etc.) in honor of the person.

People grieve in different ways, but it is important to allow employees to do that during the work day in order to share feelings. If the person is in a work group, the dynamic will change. The energy will change and most employers will wait until they think about hiring in a new staff member. People often need time to refocus and get back into work mode and that should be expected. Supervisors should help team members understand that it might be hard for them to “work” for a few days. It is also difficult for the supervisor to show empathy and reorganize the work flow.

Another area that can be difficult is for the Human Resources department in the benefits area.  When you have to cancel insurance and the reason is your colleague’s death, it is unexpectedly difficult. Status changes usually relate to marriage/separation or relocation, not death. I have found that insurance carriers and customer support employees are usually very compassionate and help you through the process. Talking with family members to help them through these changes can be awkward and sad. Sometimes there is a family member or friend designated by the family to speak with the company.  My suggestion is to wait a week or so before you attempt to make that call. You might in fact e-mail to find out if the family is ready to talk. Patience and compassion are necessary for this function.

Whether a company is large, small, public or private, the death of a member of the work family can be devastating . Most importantly, people need to mourn in their own ways and hopefully work in an understanding culture. Moving forward in time, if a new person is eventually hired for the position left vacant, be welcoming. It’s fine to tell them about your co-worker, but let them have a chance to become a new team member rather than having an awkward experience “trying to fill someone else’s shoes”.

We will always remember those colleagues who are gone and we must always move forward with strength.

Talk soon.

Job Etiquette: Work Long And Prosper


For Star Trek fans, it was a sad weekend. The loss of the iconic Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock) made us all feel sad. His most-recognized catchphrase, “Live Long and Prosper”, which he apparently made up on the spot, stayed with him for his entire life. His character embodied both human and Vulcan traits, much like our balancing of emotion and reason. It can be a struggle. So how can Job Etiquette readers learn from Leonard Nimoy?

Many candidates want to prosper in a job. What does that mean to applicants?

  • More money
  • An office
  • More responsibility
  • A promotion
  • Become a supervisor
  • Respect
  • Career development
  • A career
  • Job security
  • Self-development

How can employees attain the prosperity they seek? For Spock, he held the ranks of Captain, Commander and Lieutenant Commander. He started as a first officer/science officer and was promoted to executive and then commanding officer. When he retired, he became Federation Ambassador at Large. That’s quite a career with the USS Enterprise and USS Enterprise A. His rational and logical thinking helped him proceed, but balancing his emotions was difficult at times. Though his expertise was valued, it caused difficulties with co-worker relationships.

Employees are often driven by compensation and title. I would argue that some employees have a difficult time balancing reason and emotion and it can get them in trouble. Sometimes, this starts as early as interviewing for the position, when the elements of “prosperity” (money, title, sign on bonus, etc.) are stressed and expressed emotionally and, sometimes, inflexibly. This may include questions about time off and eligibility for a promotion, but don’t send the wrong message about your intentions or goals and save these concerns for later.

People who usually work “long” are individuals who have worked hard, are interested in self-development by attending company seminars or external seminars and talking with people in their organization. People who go beyond expectations in their existing jobs and sometimes leave their comfort zone to learn something new often are the same employees who advance in the organization. Using your emotions to show passion for your work and the company will set you apart. Organizations want to see enthusiasm, but not just for self-promotion purposes.

Employees who are personable, communicative and build trust with co-workers are also likely to advance. Balancing logic and emotions is critical in terms of acting and speaking appropriately in an organization. Vulcan or human, we all grapple with saying or doing the right thing. When you are negotiating for that next move of your “prosperity”, remember to have reasonable wants, your emotions in check and proceed where all job seekers/employees have gone! Prove your worth to the organization. If you have gained respect with co-workers, they will support you.

Whether Vulcan or human, the ability to showcase your passions and goals is one in the same. Spock may have struggled as Nimoy did, but he prospered in all aspects of his professional and personal life. Rest in peace. We will miss you.

Job Etiquette: All About That Bonus (Not The Base)

"All About That Bass"

I’ll admit one of my favorite songs this year is “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor. I love the music and the sentiment; thus, I had to find a way to incorporate it into my blog.  Although Meghan is bringing “booty back”, I am bringing “manners” back, as Job Etiquette meets popular music to make a point. Meghan (and my mother) told me that being polite was the way to go!

In the past, I’ve discussed topics related to employment, jobs, interviews and company culture.  I would like to focus on people in the process of changing employment and accepting new positions. There are many important decisions to consider:

  • What will it mean to leave a small company and join a large company? (and vice versa)
  • Will my benefits change?
  • Will my time off be the same as I have earned at my current job?
  • Will I be eligible for a bonus like at my current job?
  • Will I be part of a team culture?
  • Will the attire be formal or casual?
  • Will my title be similar or will it change to a promotion?

There are others of course, but in any case, the one important question is do I really want this new opportunity? If the answer is yes, not matter what changes, you have to be willing to make concessions. Not all companies or industries are alike. You may have earned a certain vacation allotment, target bonus and/or benefits that are not the same at the new company. The two that I find most commonly discussed are time off and bonus. Both are great incentives, no doubt, but discussing them with a potential “new employer” should be approached carefully and in a polite manner. Of course, people are hoping to negotiate a great deal. However, some companies do not like to negotiate. Others will, but have limits, so try not to push them. As Mom might say, “mind your manners”.

In most companies that offer time off, vacation time is accrued. That means even though you have three weeks of vacation, you earn them and cannot try to take them in your second month of employment. If you earn them, they’re typically based on years of service. Depending on your years of service in your current job, this might change as you will be a “new” employee. Time worked at your previous position does not “carry over” with you. The same is true with a company bonus. You may find the new company has a bonus system, but that the structure is different. The other important fact to consider is that if you lose a bonus by changing jobs, the new company is NOT required to pay you for your former work. If it does, you are very lucky! If you firmly focus on that or anything else that might be changing, it might give the employer cause to wonder if you really want the job or to be a member of the company.

There’s nothing wrong with being firm, but be professional and polite. Making demands prior to employment may not bode well with your new boss. They will understand what you are doing, but don’t get ahead of yourself — this may reflect poorly on your employer’s perception of your behavior. If it’s all about the bonus (past) and not the job (future), you might consider bringing manners back and deciding what a change will mean for you. Feel good about yourself like Meghan suggests in her hit song, but remember what your “Mama told you”!

Good luck!

Talk soon.

Job Etiquette: Yes Virginia, There Is A Job!

 Santa (3)Writing a resume and checking it twice!

The (New York) Sun published an editorial on September 21, 1897 to answer an eight year old’s question about the existence of Santa Claus.  To some, that is still a mystery!

In 2014, there are many questions made by teens, college grads and others questioning the existence of employment or re-employment for themselves. My comments will not be as philosophical as the answers Virginia read, but they are based on what I have told my readers for over a year based on real time work experience.

Yes Virginia, as certain as there is an economy, stock exchanges, a GNP, the Department of Labor and a free enterprise system, there is a job for you. It may not be wrapped with holiday cheer, but it does exist and is yours for the finding. Networking and connecting are still top resources to find a job, internship, volunteer position, part time position, etc. Be creative and show off your talent, skills, and ingenuity using social media. “Work the room” at holiday parties or informal gatherings. The results might be surprising. Volunteer and help others less fortunate than you. It will make you feel good and you will connect with others in a giving way.

At this holiday time, try not to wish, hope or pray for a job; rather, pray for confidence in yourself and skills.

Pray for the courage to accept decisions from employers (positive or negative)

Pray for strength to read postings, send resumes and wait for responses

Pray for guidance to make the right choices for yourself

Pray for support, kindness and love or friendship from your support system.

Hope your self-promoting efforts attract attention through social media.

Find your job.

P.S. Virginia, when you leave Santa his milk and cookies, make sure to leave a nice clean resume! (He has a lot of connections!)

Talk soon!

Job Etiquette: Culture Shock


Busy workplace

There’s always much excitement when a company has a growth spurt; that means that good things are happening in the business! The culture of the company may be in for a surprise especially if many new people are added quickly. Is there such a thing as “employee survivor shock”? By that, I refer to the original employee base and then the new group of employees together as one team. Changing, yet maintaining a culture that is comfortable for all has some challenges.

  • How we communicate

Depending on whether you are in one site or are a multi-site organization, communication is most important. Face to face is always best but when that is not possible, people use e-mail. When you grow, it is nice to associate face to face with whom you are speaking to and find them within the building. It’s a way to introduce yourself and is mutually helpful. For meetings, people can Skype or use any of the “meeting platforms” available to us. If you are able to travel to another site, it helps keep you cohesive with other employees.

Many companies introduce intranets into their cultures at growth stages. It is another great tool to use to see what others are doing and who they are. For some, it will take getting used to, but using this tool, employees can view a company calendar for events, see a bigger picture of the organization and have access to trainings or news regardless of location.

  • Our “neighborhood”

Fred Rogers was always welcoming to new neighbors. We should strive to do the same with new employees. Sometimes the neighborhood will change: new cubicles, sharing office space, moving in/out of an office space, etc. We look for good chemistry in our staff, but sometimes we look to physically fit them into our space when we are growing.  We have to understand that moving doesn’t necessarily reflect bad performance, but rather, a lack or reworking of space. You may get attached to their work space, but be flexible, you still do have a job! These changes are very different from “leaving the space” in a more permanent move.

  • Lunch Time

Does your company have a lunch room or cafeteria? Do people eat at their desks? If there is a lunchroom or cafeteria, explore it. Even if you are used to eating at your desk, eating with colleagues is a great way to meet people and if it seems to be popular, than it is part of the culture. The current employees will be happy to see new faces because they also want to learn about their new colleagues. What better way than over food!

  • Our Styles

This can refer to management, clothing and office/culture. Do you notice lots of closed doors in your company or office site? Are most employees dressed in a formal work attire? Are team meetings formal with little spontaneity? On the other hand, is it an open door culture with people walking into offices to talk, dressed in a more casual manner, with interdisciplinary team meetings? Changing from one to the other or something in between is not always easy. If your former environment had many layers which slowed action and you move to a faster culture, you will experience the difference. Take the time to make observations to understand policies and styles at the new and growing organization. This will help you acclimate in a more meaningful way. The current employee base will also need to be accepting and mentoring those who are new to the existing culture.

  • Our telephone list

It’s growing and now on the intranet; gone are the days when we memorized a list. The floor plans might change as well. Time to take a breath to view the changes for new employees and for the current group. It can be exciting to be part of your company’s growth towards success. Welcome e-mails are great, but better yet, walk over and introduce yourself to a new employee. If you can’t, a call or e-mail is always welcoming.

There are many ways to merge current cultures with new employees but most importantly be open to changes, be welcoming and become a stronger team along the way!

Good luck!

Talk soon.