The Lost Art of Effective Communication in the Workplace
Last Friday I was sitting in an Accounting Advisory Council meeting at my university, California Polytechnic State University, when the Area Chair posed a question to potential recruiters of our accounting students. He astutely asked each firm representative to tell the group one thing they are concerned about with the new accounting hires coming from all universities, including Cal Poly. The first answer made me sit up and take notice. The representative said that students (new employees) have to learn that they shouldn't add a smiley face to the bottom of their e-mails to clients.
After long and thoughtful reflection (just kidding) I had to agree that was an inappropriate thing to do. After all, in accounting your client is not your friend. The client is not your adversary, either, but the accountant must keep his or her distance from the client and be independent both in fact and appearance. Accountants should not become friends with their clients because it compromises objectivity in auditing financial information and making dec isions on financial reporting. Accountants and auditors must maintain a healthy dose of skepticism when dealing with clients -- an attitude that says: "I'm not saying I don't trust you, but it's my job to verify the numbers in your financial statements."
I chose this topic for my blog because I suspect that over-friendliness with clients and other business associates, and inappropriate communication born out of social networking lingo and the instant messaging world we live in today, is a problem for young people. Many rather text or tweet rather than pick up the phone to obtain needed information. One representative at the Advisory Council meeting even said some employees rather send an e-mail to someone in the firm who is two doors down than to get up and walk the twenty feet to discuss the matter in person.
I've noticed over the past few years that student interpersonal skills are in decline. It's a lost "art." So here are my top ten warnings for student-graduates when using social media in business communications.
10. No smiley faces
9. Don't use Webopedia as your every day dictionary instead of Websters
8. Don't use bgd when providing resume-type information
7. Don't use OMG, LOL, or other social networking language
7. Don't use BTW to inform a client or associate of another matter
6. Don't end online communications with TTUL
5. Don't tpye and click the reply button with WTH after reading a distrurbing e-mail/memo
4. Don't write in CAPITALS
3. Don't tweet memos and replies to clients
2. Don't set up a business blog to vent your feelings about clients/client behavior
1. Read your e-mails before sending them
Oh, BTW, don't check your e-mail or Facebook postings while in meetings with clients and, of course, turn off your cellphone in meetings with clients!
Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on December 8, 2011