Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Rule 56: Understand the social protocols

By on 17:50
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Football Baron, Anthony Adekojo Williams

Within every company and place of work there will be social protocols.  Know them and use them.  They might be quite simple:

·                    You never take partners to the staff do
·                    You always  turn up for the staff meetings on your days off
·                    You never park in a certain couple of spaces even though they aren’t marked because they are unofficially reserved for the MD’s partner and kids
·                    You always give a fiver to the leaving envelopes that go round but only a couple of quid for the birthdays
·                    You never take the jam doughnut  with the coffee because that’s Sylvia’s – always has been, always will be
·                    You always refer to the MD as Charles to his face but as Charlie to the rest of the staff, but as Sir Charles to his PA
·                    It is OK to order wine with lunch but beer really is frowned on.

You may never know where some of these unwritten rules come from – Charles once got soundly thumped by a beer drinking employee, hence no beer at lunch; Charles was once embarrassed by the wife of a junior manager who made a not completely unsuccessful pass at him at a staff do, hence no partners.

Of course, these social protocols may be obvious – Sylvia likes the jam doughnuts and she has both the clout and juice to get her own way – the important thing is to identify them, file them away if you like but by golly you’d better know them if you don’t want to make any terrible social gaffes.
I once worked for a company where it was considered taboo to drink during a working day in any way. You couldn’t even have a beer at lunch. Alcohol was a big no, no and I couldn’t find out why.  I was happy to go along with this, as I am no drinker, but it puzzled me.  I eventually found out that the company had had a finance manager who had spent every afternoon having forty winks in his office – sleeping it off.  In fact he wasn’t.  He did drink a lot every lunchtime, but the afternoons were spent carefully siphoning off funds to his own accounts. He was eventually caught and dismissed, but after that ‘no drinking’ was the rule—and no closed office doors.

(Excerpts from THE RULES OF WORK by Richard Templer Read “Knowing the rules about the authority” from The Rules tomorrow on Asabeafrika)

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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