A short while ago a friend was lamenting that she had to chase down responses from people who hadn’t responded to an invitation. “Doesn’t anyone know what RSVP means anymore?” she asked.
It reminded me of a similar situation I experienced a couple of years ago when I sent snail mail invites to a surprise party. Only 20% of the invitees responded promptly, so I created a facebook event – and I got more responses. But within the last twenty-four hours before the event yes’s turned to maybe’s, maybe’s turned to no’s, no’s turned to yes’s and I had no idea how many people would attend.
In the words of my friend, “What ever happened to common courtesy?”
In the workplace, we tend to do a great job of being courteous to clients, but those we work closest with sometimes get treated badly. Consider these examples:
1. The colleague who doesn’t respond to a meeting invitation. What’s worse is when this co-worker assumes the meeting will be re-scheduled when they don’t show up. And even worse yet, when they join the meeting after decisions have been made and want the team to start over. Is this you? Then by all means respond to those invites in your in-box, and if you can’t make a meeting and really need to attend, then request a reschedule in advance.
2. The manager who doesn’t get back to a potential employee that he or she has interviewed for a job. I’m not suggesting that a personal response is required for the dozens of resumes and applications you received. But when the candidate has been through multiple rounds of interviews, and you were down to the short set of candidates, and you told them you’d make a decision within a week – then yeah, that one deserves a personal response.
3. The boss who doesn’t thank her employees at the conclusion of a project. Your employees have put in lots of extra hours. They put up with early meetings, and late meetings, and changed the materials – sometimes three or four times in one day. When the project is complete you owe it to them to let them know how it went, and yes – to say thank-you.
4. The manager who doesn’t get back to the employee who asked to speak to him today. It doesn’t matter whether the employee is waiting outside your door, or at the other end of a phone line. If you said you’d get back to them, then please do. Their time is valuable too.
5. The boss who asks their employees to disrupt their personal lives but gives nothing in return. Sometimes the early meeting or the weekend work session can’t be avoided. But recognize that you are asking your employees to disrupt their personal lives. If you must do it, then try to arrange a schedule that accommodates all employees, and the next time they ask to leave early to attend a school event, then by all means – give back.
Sometimes that simple “thank you” is all an assistant, or co-worker, or employee, or boss (yes, bosses too) needs to feel appreciated. What suggestions do you have to improve courtesy in the workplace?
Who are you going to thank today?