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Build Your Career Office Life

Bosses or Workers? Whose Behavior Is Worse?

Bosses or Workers? Whose Behavior Is Worse?
Credit: Imilian/Shutterstock

Executives and managers aren't behaving as well around the office as they think they are, new research finds.

From missing scheduled meetings to not giving credit where it's deserved, both executives and employees witness a wide range of workplace etiquette breaches on a daily basis, according to a study from the staffing firm Accountemps.

Where executives and employees differ, however, is in what they feel the most common etiquette problems are. Executives say the most common offense is being distracted during meetings, such as by checking smartphones and writing emails. Employees, by contrast, say gossiping about co-workers is the etiquette breach they see most often.

"The results show managers might not have a full understanding of how widespread gossip is at work," Bill Driscoll, a district president of Accountemps, said in a statement. "Likewise, workers may not be aware that their bosses notice distracted behavior during meetings."

Among the other etiquette faux pas most commonly seen by both groups are not responding to emails in a timely manner, running late or missing meetings, not giving co-workers credit for their work and criticizing others publicly. [Want a Promotion? Mind Your Manners ]

While all of the employees surveyed acknowledged that they had broken these etiquette rules at one time or another during their careers, 11 percent of executives said they'd never committed etiquette breaches.

"Most jobs today require teamwork and strong collaboration skills, and that means following the unwritten rules of office protocol," Driscoll said. "Poor workplace etiquette demonstrates a lack of consideration for co-workers."

To help everyone in the office display proper workplace etiquette, Accountemps offered several tips:

  • Be attentive: Regardless of how busy you are, it's important to give your full attention when meeting with others. Besides showing respect to those you're dealing with, focusing on the topic at hand will also make you a more effective contributor.
  • Stay out ofthe rumor mill: You're best served by avoiding office gossip altogether. Besides having the potential to damage someone else's career, it reflects poorly on your character.
  • Return messages: Although it can be overwhelming to try to return email and voicemail messages, it is important to find time to do so. Your best bet is to pick a designated time each day to respond to messages, so you can concentrate on the rest of your work uninterrupted.
  • Give credit when it's deserved: Rather than trying to always hog the glory of a job well done, it's important to recognize co-workers who may have assisted you. In addition to showing you're a team player, it will likely cause your peers to send you kudos more often.

The study was based on surveys of more than 2,100 chief financial officers from a random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas and more than 320 employees who work in an office environment.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.