The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

August 13, 2013

Your Office Coach: Office etiquette is evolving

Question: Since taking a new job, I have been appalled by my colleagues’ disrespectful behavior in meetings. Most of them bring laptops and type continuously while others are talking. I initially believed they were taking notes, but soon discovered that they are actually working on other things.

Cell phones are also a problem, with people constantly texting and taking calls. In one meeting, the leader responded to instant messages while her computer screen was on display for everyone to see. All this extraneous activity is extremely distracting.

When I attend meetings, I leave my laptop on my desk, silence my phone, and return calls afterward. However, since I am middle-age, perhaps my ways are just old-fashioned. What do you think?

Answer: While common courtesy never goes out of style, the definition of appropriate behavior does evolve over time. Children are still expected to use proper table manners, for example, but are no longer required to remain silent during meals. Because workplace norms also shift, your question does not have a simple answer.

To demonstrate respect, meeting participants should be expected to give their full attention to the person who is speaking. Using a laptop or tablet for note-taking or locating relevant information is perfectly OK, but working on unrelated tasks is unquestionably rude.

That said, however, there is a distinct and growing generational divide regarding technology. Younger people, who grew up surrounded by multiple communication devices, tend to be less offended by electronic multi-tasking. For them, simultaneous talking and texting is a common occurrence.

Older colleagues should try to understand that split attention does not necessarily indicate intentional disrespect by their juniors. At the same time, millennials have to realize that texting or emailing during meetings with senior managers could be a career-killer.

To prevent misperceptions, leaders need to establish clear ground rules for the use of electronics in meetings. They should also be sure to invite only people who really need to attend. Otherwise, some participants may multi-task simply to make better use of their time.

Text Only
Business
  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.

     

    July 31, 2014

  • Fancy management systems won’t fix bad managers

    In violation of my long-standing “only watch TV” rule, I read an article recently about how Zappos is adopting a management structure known as holacracy.

    July 30, 2014

  • Your Office Coach: Supervisor-employee boundaries must be honored

    QUESTION: Two weeks ago, my husband “Barry“ unexpectedly came home from work with a large flat-screen television. He explained that one of his employees gave it to him as repayment for a loan. I was shocked, because I had no idea that Barry was lending people money.

    July 29, 2014

  • Silly mistakes that sink job applicants

    Some employers won’t care - or won’t catch them - but mistakes in word usage can put your application in the reject pile.

    July 29, 2014

  • Watercooler: Raised to the roof

    Q: Over 15 years, I have worked my way up the corporate ladder with the same organization. I have been given a raise every year and excellent reviews, as well as several promotions.

    July 25, 2014

  • Career Coach Q&A: job search follow-up; introverts as leaders

    Starting a business:

    Q: I have a stable job that I don't hate, but I have an idea for starting my own business.

    July 25, 2014

  • How to become a leader

    QUESTION: I’ve just been promoted into a leadership role. I’m excited, but also kind of overwhelmed. What do I need to do to be good at my new job?

    July 24, 2014

  • Balancing Act: How much is your time worth? Consider outsourcing some tasks

    Todd Paton has a booming business getting customers noticed on the Web. One tool he uses is generating online press releases to build brand awareness and create links that will send traffic to a customer’s website. But Paton, owner of Paton Internet Marketing, acknowledges that writing the releases is not his strong suit. Rather than spend his time doing it, he hires out the task.

    July 23, 2014

  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

Business Video
Stocks