Office etiquette tips for managers

Workforce Management
JC Cornell

By JC Cornell
August 17, 2018

June 24, 2024

0 min read

Whether you have been a manager for years, or you are just starting in a leadership role, it is never too late to check your office etiquette.

Employees follow the example their leadership team sets, and a company’s culture is built on the behaviours of employees. If you aren’t following office etiquette rules, then your staff probably won’t follow them either.

While every employee should observe office etiquette, managers have rules that are unique to their leadership roles. Follow these rules, and you will find that your office will be a consistently professional environment.

Always be punctual

Whether it is arriving for work or to a meeting, being punctual actually means being five minutes early. Showing up late is simply disrespectful.

It delivers the message to your team that their time isn’t as important as yours.

Respect your employees and their workspace

In a world of cubicles, the respect for personal space is premium. Though they may not be fully enclosed, you should still apply the same rules to a cubicle that you would to an office with a door.

For example, knock on a cubical wall before you interrupt an employee. If they are deep in their work, ask them to come see you when they have a moment – or make time to come back and chat with them. If you need to have a conversation, invite them to your office, where it can be more private.

Make introductions

When a new employee starts, make sure to introduce yourself and the team. This includes giving names, titles, and a little background information on each team member. It shows you know your staff and helps give a starting point for future conversations.

Don’t yell, scream, or criticize publicly

There is a huge difference between giving constructive feedback and yelling at your staff. One creates conversation and helps an employee grow; the other is demeaning and demoralising.

Never lose your cool with any of your employees. You are in a leadership position, and office etiquette demands that you always have conversations in a professional manner, no matter how you feel.

Don’t gossip about other employees

Not only is this an HR nightmare, but it creates a sense of unease within your team. If you are talking this freely about their co-workers, what could you be saying about them behind their backs?

Stay home when you are sick

With modern technology, the ability to work remotely has become increasingly easier. As a manager, there will be times when you are sick yet have projects that can’t be delayed.

Do your team a favour, and don’t share your pneumonia germs with everyone. Instead, grab your laptop, let everyone know how to get hold of you, and work from the comfort of home. Set a good example to your team.

Pay attention

Put your cell phone away, and ignore your email during conversations and meetings. If you are not giving your full attention, you are likely to miss crucial pieces of information. It’s also impolite to those you are with.

Don’t take all the credit

It may be tempting to pass an idea off as your own, but there will always be at least one person (probably lots more) who knows it wasn’t your idea.

Instead, support your employees when they have a great idea, present it as their idea, and work with them to perfect it. That is where you get to shine – helping your employees succeed.

Never pass on all the blame

Don’t just pass the blame on to your team when something goes wrong. Take on the responsibility of the error and work hard to correct mistakes and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Even though you may not have made the mistake yourself, you oversee the person who did. Instead of playing the blame game, working together creates better work relationships.

Maintain your professionalism outside the office

No matter how much you get along with your team, it is important to remember you are still their boss. While it is fine to socialise outside of office hours, you must always maintain your professionalism.

Office etiquette requires a distance between your personal life and your teams. Connect through small talk but keep the oversharing to a minimum.

Respect your team's time

Understand that your team has their work to do, and be conscious of this. Don’t invite them to meetings they don’t need to be a part of. Keep any meetings you have on topic and as short and succinct as possible.

Know their work hours, don’t start a long project conversation 5 minutes before the end of their day – wait until the morning. Just as your time is precious, so is your team.

Office etiquette really matters

As a manager, you set an example for your team. Even in informal offices, employees need to be treated with respect and professionalism. Following office etiquette rules strengthens your reputation and improves your chances for success.

If you make an office etiquette mistake, make sure to apologise to anyone you may have offended as quickly as possible. Think about what caused you to make the mistake, and work to correct the issue so you don’t repeat it again.

By holding yourself accountable to office etiquette rules, you are able to hold your team accountable too.

Don’t forget to check in with your recruitment team

If you work with an agency, we always recommend checking in with them once a quarter at least. Make it part of your office etiquette plans to keep them informed of your hiring needs. That way, they can support you best when you need to fill a role.

If you are looking to fill open roles with qualified candidates who are a good fit and will be long-term assets in your company, connect with one of us today! Let’s work together to make your company the success it should be.

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