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Rudeness In The Workplace

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Some years ago I worked as the personnel manager for a 10-store retail chain in San Diego. The number one rule in business is to make your customers feel comfortable and confident while doing business with you. This rule includes the entire management chain from the CEO down to the clerk at the bottom of the pay scale.

Most of us know that if two or more people spend eight hours working side by side, sooner or later, there is going to be some disagreements that can sometimes escalate out of control. These actions can have a very detrimental effect on your business and need to be addressed as quickly as possible.

Rudeness of Employees To Each Other

Disagreements between employees are going to happen, it’s simply a fact of life. There is no way to prevent it — it’s going to happen. And no topic is off limits.

Employees will argue about store policies and procedures — but they will also argue about politics, religion, music, movies, the economy, and any other topic they feel passionate about.

These disagreements might seem trivial, and the animosity might disappear in a few hours or days, but during that time, productivity of the team diminishes. People avoid each other and work systems slow down or halt. If management is on the scene they need to call a “time out,” much like parents do with their children, and explain that this is not part of their job description.

Rudeness and Customers

It should go without saying that rudeness to customers is not helpful to business growth. I would never tolerate a customer yelling or using profanity with one of my employees. Customer service ends at that point with me.

But, I would also not tolerate an employee being short with a customer either. The majority of small businesses are dependent on repeat business. If that customer has a bad experience, not only will they not return to the business, they will relate the negative experience to at least 10-11 other people they know. Usually adding some additional negative embellishments.

Another big negative is employee disagreements in front of customers. If there is a conflict it should be settled out of customer earshot. And reprimanding an employee in front of a customer should never happen. Corrective action or training should always be done away from the selling floor.

Some Final Thoughts

People are human. We say things without thinking; we do things we know we should not do. Expecting total harmony among your employees is a futile exercise. The best course of action is good communication and a procedure for handling disputes between employees, customers and management.

Most people who have a problem just want the freedom to express their concerns openly and without retaliation. One of the great tools I used in my work as a HR manager was the “60 Day New Hire Survey.”

This simple form gives employees the opportunity to open up about what they like about the business and what makes them uncomfortable. The goal of every business owner should be to make the workplace an enjoyable place. A happy crew is a profitable crew and the bottom line will show that.

How do you handle conflict in your workplace?? Comment below.

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