Executive Etiquette in the New Workplace

by Debra Kraft

Workplace environments evolve with each new generation of workers, requiring new rules for etiquette. Executives represent the front line for business etiquette, because employees take cues from the executive staff not only on how to conduct business but also on how to conduct themselves in the office. This means executive conduct is a critical starting point to establishing a company culture that meets the challenges of the new workplace etiquette.


Build a culture of trust. In the new workplace, business sustainability requires innovation, and innovation is fostered in collaborative environments founded on trust. Being engaged and actively interested in employees and keeping commitments can help to build trust. Keeping employees informed of strategic changes, challenges and successes is also critical to prevent the infectious spread of damaging rumors.


Think before you communicate. The new workplace has communication tools that expedite the spread of information. Information issued directly by executives must be professional and credible at all times, whether in formal documents, emails, voice mails, blogs, social media posts or text messages. An executive who causes inappropriate or inaccurate information to proliferate among the masses via emails or social media could damage the company’s reputation, its bottom line and his own career.


Don’t be so tuned in to technology that you tune out employees. Confined spaces, such as elevators, provide opportunities for executives to connect with employees. Focusing instead on Bluetooth devices, smartphones or music players creates separation and shows a lack of respect. In meetings, executives should stay actively engaged in the topic at hand, not on sidebar discussions or laptop screens. Cellphones should always be muted to avoid interrupting formal or impromptu meetings.


Come to the office dressed as employees do. If the workplace is business casual, an executive should adopt a clothing style that represents the most appropriate business casual attire. Workout clothes are for the gym, not the office. An executive who regularly wears suits in a business casual environment could risk building a wall that separates him from employees and prevents rather than promotes collaboration.


Start meetings on time, arrive at meetings promptly and keep appointments. Executives should not allow their own demanding schedules to impact employees’ schedules. Effective time management is a sign of respect and commitment. Employees will take the cue to start their own meetings on time. Time management improvements could increase overall efficiency of the organization.

About the Author

A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.

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