Friday, February 15, 2013

Intra-Company Etiquette

 by Vivian Zabel    

      Several articles concerning different types of etiquette have appeared in this newsletter. I thought I'd follow up with one dealing with intra-company etiquette or good manners. Since I worked in the business world for several years, as well as a teacher in one of the largest companies in the world -- the school system, I learned many things about what helps make life less stressful for employee and employer.

     No, I don't have all the answers, but I do have a few tips that could make a difference. I hope the following article helps make your company relationships work better.

Intra-company Etiquette I

    In any business or company, a protocol exists to address concerns, problems, or day-to-day occurrences or business. Those “rules” make the business run smoother and helps to avoid problems, or avoids aggravating existing problems. Businesses, including 4RV, have protocols in place for those reasons, and when anyone avoids, circumvents, or bends protocol, problems arise. 
    One example, 4RV has the request (actually requirement) that authors and illustrators avoid direct contact with each other unless the president or vice-president gives limited permission. One author insisted that the two be able to contact each other and that the author “guide” the illustrator. The result, part way through the book, the illustrator quit. If a person doesn’t understand the need for a “rule” or requirement, ask and then respect that the “powers that be” know what they/he/she is doing, even if the answer is that is the way the company wants something done.
   Therefore, what does intra-company etiquette mean? Such etiquette addresses the relationships, the procedure, the way things occur between members, employees, employers, staff, etc. in a company; most such protocol or behavior means using good manners and being respectful of others. Below are a few “rules” that apply anywhere, for any type business:

1.  Follow communication protocol. If your superior is to be included in the loop, don’t leave him out for any reason. Doing so undermines his position and creates hurt feelings and a lack of respect for the person not following protocol and for the superior. 

2.   Don’t gossip and discuss company business unknown by a superior who needs to be included, or with people who have no need to be included. For example, an illustrator directly contacts an author and discusses material without including the art director, or a staff member contacts another staff member without including their superior because the first is not happy with the supervisor.  In both examples, someone is showing great disrespect for a superior and for the other person placed in an awkward and compromising position.
      Example: At 4RV, everyone is to Cc certain people in emails. Yes, at times we forget to “reply all,” but leaving a required Cc off an email causes problems and often undermines the position of the person deliberately “forgotten.” Such action also shows a lack of respect.

          3.  Sharing business information with someone else in the business who doesn’t need to know undermines coherency in a company. Unless it’s “George’s” right to know what “Bob’s” salary is, “Craig” is breaking protocol to share the information.

           4.  Complaining about what happens in the company doesn’t help, in fact hinders a solution to an actual problem. Anyone who has a problem should go to his/her supervisor. Only if no solution is found, should he go elsewhere to find help — and then to someone further up the line, not to others who cannot help.

          5.  Do not undermine a superior by telling another person in the company that the superior wants something done a certain way but that way is not what others in the same business do, insinuating the “boss” is wrong. If a superior, especially the “boss,” wants something done a certain way, it is not the right of a person who may disagree to undermine the superior’s position. Such action is rude and disrespectful.
     6.  Management should respect those under themselves in the hierarchy of a company, too. Nothing about an individual should be discussed with anyone who doesn't need to know the information. Respect should be shown and exercised no matter how "important" anyone is within the company.  

     Just a few suggestions for making relationships smoother in a company. I know others exist, but these five are a start. Later I’ll address etiquette between a company and its clients.

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  1. Vivian, As a former asst controller and office manager of a manufacturing company, company protocol is a must. And, both management and staff (in this case, including authors and illustrators) need to adhere to it in order for a business to run smoothly.

    Unfortunately, there will always be one or two people who find the need to throw a wrench in the works.

    Go figure.

  2. The last time I checked, there was no "I" in "team". Karen is right, no matter what there will always be one or two that will throw a monkey wrench into the works. Dare I refer to those non-team players as the black sheep of the family?

  3. Dear Vivian,
    Thanks for the reminder. Things go a lot smoother when people follow the rules. It's very important for all of us to stand behind the principles of 4RV Publishing.

    Celebrate you.
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

  4. I know sometimes we forget because we are so "family" like. That's why the reminder, and the tips to help others in different companies.

  5. I've always believed if you disliked the company, boss, or group so much that you had to complain or gossip, you're the one who she get out of it. Wonderful reminder, Vivian, that family or business, or in our case, both, there's such a thing as common courtesy.

  6. I have a habit of expecting people to do what's right or what should be done. I'm always surprised when some don't.