Monday, March 5, 2012

Thou shalt follow these 10 commandments to be effective — and successful — at work

The best advice on workplace behaviour that I have ever read comes from Mary M. Mitchell, who heads an executive training consultancy, The Mitchell Organization. The company, which is based in Seattle, is dedicated to the credo that good manners create good relationships, and good relationships create good business.

Last month, Mitchell wrote a feature for Reuters, which was titled "The 10 Commandments of Business Behaviour".

Mitchell opens her article with an appropriate quote from the late American tycoon, John D. Rockefeller: "I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other skill under the sun."

And then she explains, while outlining her 10 Commandments, the impact your interpersonal skills have on your ability to do your job.

Here are Mitchell's 10 Commandments:

1. Thou shalt have a positive attitude.
2. Thou shalt be on time.
3. Thou shalt praise in public and criticise in private.
4. Thou shalt get names straight.
5. Thou shalt speak slowly and clearly on the telephone.
6. Thou shalt not use foul language.
7. Thou shalt dress appropriately.
8. Thou shalt take clear messages.
9. Thou shalt honour social courtesies at business functions.
10. Thou shalt be accountable.

The point about having a positive attitude (I have to say here that I have problems on this score sometimes) is deservingly No. 1. Everybody has bad days, Mitchell writes, but...

... nobody has the right to take it out on others. Rudeness, impoliteness, surliness, ugly moods, unprovoked displays of anger, and general unpleasantness can be costly to your career and your company's bottom line.

I am glad, too, that Mitchell has made it clear with Commandment No. 6 that there is no place for foul language in the workplace. Back in January last year, I had written about this issue on The Reading Room (What is the need to turn the air blue?). Now, in her article, Mitchell points out that vulgarity, poor grammar, and use of slang are three of the top reasons people don't get hired. That should give many people out there, especially freshers on the threshold of employment, some serious pause for thought.

Mitchell also discusses another issue that I consider to be very important dressing appropriately:

Don't enter your workplace without knowing its dress code. If you must, call the human resources department and ask. Good grooming is at least 10 times more important than making a fashion statement. Good taste and fashion are not always synonymous.

There's lots of good advice here. Read the article in its entirety "The 10 Commandments of Business Behaviour" — and think hard about how you will apply these guidelines.

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