Business etiquette has changed. For those of us nearing retirement, we came into the business world before personal computers dominated the landscape. In fact, when I started in 1984, the PC was relatively new, the Internet was ten years off, and email was just a dream. Social Media wasn’t even a twinkle in a programmers eye. Computers took the business world by storm. With their dominance, the way we operated, changed and even our spoken word became suspect. While technology has been an amazing contributor to where we have evolved , and has touched our lives in so many positive ways, it hasn’t been all good. I saw this first hand way back in 1984.
For me, it started the day that my boss came into my office and complained about how he had lost a sell because he produced handwritten share numbers while his competitors had a pretty black and white pie chart that had been produced in something called Lotus 123. I realized then, that though my boss’s numbers were 100 percent accurate, they weren’t credible to his buyer because they were handwritten. Credibility was now digital. A salesperson’s integrity was suspect simply based on how he presented the information.
Very little has changed since those days. In fact, it has gotten so much worse. Blogs pop up daily. Many people receive their news exclusively from 100 percent opinionated websites. It doesn’t matter that most are staffed by one person. In fact, the majority of them are nothing more than a litany of opinions, they look pretty, and they are on the Internet. So therefore, they must be credible. Services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and so forth, can have erroneous information disseminated around the world in light speed.
In business, buyers treat personal phone calls with disdain, eschewing personal contact for emails, texts, and even webinars. It has even become commonplace to interrupt meetings by texting or taking a phone call. Just as heads are lowered to smartphone screens at the dinner table, the same is occurring at the conference room table.
Technology is our friend and while it has helped immeasurably, that help comes at a cost. As leaders in our organizations, as the last vestiges of the baby boomer generation- those of us that are readying ourselves to walk off into the world of Social Security and 401K’s – we have one last responsibility; one parting task. That task is, as we are handing over leadership to those that we have mentored, to make sure that we spend a little time, giving our charges, more of what we got.
Give Them More of What We Got!
We need to; keep the handshake alive and show the next generation of leaders how to shake a person’s hand; stress to them how important personal contact is in a business transaction; teach them humility and how to apologize for being a jerk or an asshole; show them the art of cursive and how to properly send a thank you card; highlight to them the importance and politeness of punctuality; underscore to them the professionalism of being corporately dressed; teach them how to fail with dignity; and show them how to appreciate the sincerity and peace that comes with honesty. We simply need to give them a little more of what we got, when we started in business.
If we combine common human courtesies with intelligence and integrity in business; and then wrap it all together with existing and emerging technologies, we will have created a powerful business leader that values humanity over making a buck. Our successors are ready; they are capable, well educated, and honest to a fault. So now, let’s just give them a little more of what we got.