September 04, 2007

Why manners matter

You might think that standards of manners and behaviour at work are on the decline, but according to a new survey, good manners are critical if you want to move up the career ladder.

In fact, an overwhelming 95 percent of senior executives and managers surveyed by NFI research feel that good manners matter when it comes to advancing a person's career, with two thirds saying good manners are extremely important.

Nine out of 10 also said that their workplaces are normally well-mannered places, with nearly four out of 10 claiming that good manners are always practiced.

"This makes it clear that people should watch their manners at work if they are looking to get ahead," NFI Research CEO Chuck Martin said.

That's even more true of smaller businesses than large ones. Seven out of 10 executives in small businesses said that good manners were important in advancing a person's career compared to just over half (55 percent) of those in large organizations.

"Good manners are essential, not only in one's personal life but professionally, as well," one survey respondent said. "It is imperative that one get along with his co-workers, and good manners are the main ingredient."

Meanwhile, academic research has found that good manners in the workplace are more than just a nice-to-have.

Dr Barbara Griffin, from the University of Western Sydney in Australia, has found that colleagues or mangers who are rude and undermining can have a demonstrable negative impact on employee engagement and productivity.

She also found that one in five employees experience a significant incident of bad manners at work once a month.

"Rude and undermining colleagues are those who question your judgement, exclude you from situations, interrupt when you are speaking, make derogatory comments, withhold information or belittle your ideas," said Dr Griffin, an organisational psychologist.

"This type of behaviour is more subtle and diffuse than outright bullying", she added, "but it still has a large impact on employee engagement, including whether you stay in an organisation, speak positively about your job or go that extra mile. It can also cause psychological distress and poor physical health.

"Even the occasional rude comment is enough to lower engagement and make you feel less committed to your job."


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