KERN BUSINESS JOURNAL
October / November 2014
Teach your employees to ‘mind their manners’ By Holly Culhane
rowing up, a parent or mentor likely advised you to make a good first impression. Often you are given only one chance – the first encounter – to impress during a job interview, social setting or business exchange. The same is true for a business. The first impression left with a customer, potential employee or vendor may be the last, especially if the impression is negative. Concerned that their employees may not be making good first impressions and damaging their companies’ reputations and bottom lines, the owners and managers of several local companies encouraged P.A.S. Associates to offer “business etiquette” classes. One such three-hour class will be conducted on Nov. 11. Decades ago, company conHolly Culhane cerns centered on how employees performed in social settings, such as business lunches, over the phone and in face-to-face contact. But with the arrival of email and social networking outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, there are many more ways for employees to interact. Consider just a few: Electronic devices – Some people are addicted to their gadgets. They constantly check for incoming calls and text messages. At a popular local restaurant, a group of young, professionally dressed men were huddled around a table. Each had his cell phone next to his plate and repeatedly glanced down. When is it appropriate to
have your phone out during a business lunch? Generally never. Business meals – Many young employees stumble over simple table manners. In this on-the-go world, where families seldom eat together, young employees often do not know which fork to use when, or which bread dish at the table to claim. But other diners know and are watching. Expressing gratitude – In today’s electronic world, a written note is a rarity. But a simple, written expression of gratitude for an interview or business opportunity makes a standout good impression. Apologizing – Some people cannot accept blame or apologize for problems. A sincere apology can go a long way to retaining an unhappy customer. Some people also are uncomfortable accepting compliments. There is an art to apologizing and accepting compliments. Email exchanges – Consider your words carefully. Never respond to an email when angry. A harsh or careless response will travel far and can sting for a lifetime. Remember, emails are not text messages. Write clearly; check your spelling. And, respond. Failing to respond to an email can be an infuriating turnoff. Meetings – Arrive on time; pay attention; don’t dominate the
conversation. Phone etiquette – I have seen employee behavior range from ignoring calls to responding harshly. Company owners and supervisors should telephone their employees once in a while. If you are not satisfied with the treatment you received, coach employees on how to properly answer telephones. Cubicle etiquette – An employee who speaks too loudly in the work place, makes inappropriate remarks, props feet onto shared workspaces and performs basic hygiene tasks, such as trimming toe nails and flossing teeth, is rude and disruptive. A gentle nudge may stop the behavior. Otherwise, training and discipline may be required. Dressing for success – There is a fine line between dressing appropriately for the office and being just plain sloppy. Most employees want to look their best. Often all it takes is coaching. Just because an article of clothing is in fashion doesn’t mean it looks good! Whether you are concerned about the first impression being made by a young, new employee, or a veteran who has been moved into a more public role, workplace etiquette can be taught and most definitely should be learned. Holly Culhane is president of the Bakersfield-based human resources consulting firm P.A.S. Associates and P.A.S. Investigations. She can be contacted through her website PASassociates.com and through the PAS Facebook page.
It’s easy to donate to your local library By Katherine Ross
ree up space in a cluttered office or home. Share a good book (or three) with your community and get an extra deduction on your tax returns. There are many great reasons to donate to your local library, and your donations can live on in so many ways. You can drop off a single title, or even a box or bagful of books, at the first floor information desk of the Beale Memorial Library at 701 Truxtun Ave. in Bakersfield or at any other branch of the Kern County Library. If you have even more to donate, or if the library is closed, boxes or bags of books may be left at our loading dock at the rear of our downtown library just beside our back door. Library staff members and the hardworking volunteers of the Friends of the Kern County Library group are happy to evaluate donations to find the optimum destination for your books to live again. Many will be added to the collection, a welcome supplement to our shrinking book budget in these tough economic times. Other donations, such as slightly outdated titles, will go to the ongoing
or quarterly book sales, which raise money for the library. Be sure to watch our website “News and Events” list, kerncountylibrary.org/HTML/ news/index.html. The Friends of the Library’s next major book sale will be March 2015.
All of the money raised at the Friends of the Library book sales is returned to the library for collection additions and for summer youth and children’s programs. You can make a difference and help your local library in other ways as well. Take a
look at our “Support the Library” website, kerncountylibrary.org/HTML/support.html. With just a couple of clicks, you can donate a title from our Amazon Wish List, make a monetary donation, or join the Friends of the Library. You can also donate your time by becoming a volunteer. Visit kerncountylibrary. org/HTML/about/volunteer.html to learn how. The Kern County Library offers a lot to the community, including free computer use, free three-week book loans, free e-books, free math and computer tutors, and free programs for all ages, including “Historic Sunset Camp — Past & Present, the Dust Bowl History of Kern County’s Weedpatch Camp,” coming to the Beale Memorial Library at 1 p.m. Oct. 21. Plus, we’ll be sponsoring many more free events in connection with the One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern community read. If you should wish to give something back to the library, be it ever so tiny, you have our eternal gratitude, and the satisfaction of making a lasting contribution to your community. Katherine Ross is a reference librarian for the Kern County Library System.