5 Etiquette Mistakes Managers Need to Avoid

By Robert Half April 17, 2015 at 7:00am

Listen up, managers: Your firm’s ability to hire and retain top performers for accounting and finance jobs hinges largely on your ability to maintain positive working relationships with your employees. So, it pays to take special care to avoid management etiquette mistakes that could cause your team members to feel undervalued, uncomfortable or just plain unhappy while at the office.

Here are five examples of etiquette mistakes that many managers make with their staff.

Etiquette mistake #1: Playing favorites

If staff members sense that some employees receive special treatment from management, their motivation and productivity can suffer.

One way to overcome real or perceived favoritism is to make time for each member of your team, even if it’s just stopping by to say hello and check in. Show people that you are interested in them and value their contributions.

Millennial employees especially value face time with their managers — and want to know their efforts make a difference at the firm. For more insights on how to engage millennial workers, download the Robert Half report, Creating a Leadership Pipeline: Developing the Millennial Generation Into Finance Leaders.

Get the Report

Etiquette mistake #2: Letting personal problems affect the workplace

Everyone goes through difficult times. As much as possible, though, discussion about personal difficulties should be left out of the office. If you find these matters are affecting your work and business relationships, consider taking time off or talking to your manager or to human resources privately about the situation.

Is it time to take a break from work? Read our post for managers on the strategic value of getting away.

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Etiquette mistake #3: Failing to respect employees’ time

Financial professionals know that there are times when they need to put in extra hours (tax season or year-end, for example), but it can’t be all the time. If you constantly need people to stay late and work weekends, and it’s not a seasonal or short-term issue, it could be a sign it’s time to hire.

If you need help with specific initiatives or to handle cyclical needs, bringing in project professionals can be an effective strategy. See these short case studies for examples of how project consultants can turn your business problems into wins.

Read Case Studies

Etiquette mistake #4: Using generic recognition tactics

Grand rewards are great, but sometimes a simple thank-you is all your employees need to stay motivated. So, when you praise your employees, make it genuine, personal and meaningful to them. It really can make all the difference in your ability to retain valued team members for the long term.

Looking for ideas on how to acknowledge your accounting and finance staff? Download the report, The People Puzzle: Building and Retaining a Talented Accounting and Finance Team, from Robert Half and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).

Get the Report

Etiquette mistake #5: Micromanaging

Hovering over your employees’ shoulders can stifle productivity and innovation in your department. It also can diminish morale and build resentment. Instead, give your employees the autonomy to use their skills and expertise. (The upside for managers: You’ll have more time to devote to your own priorities.)

Want to see a micromanagement nightmare? Watch this video. (You DO NOT want to be like this guy.)



More resources

The Role of Corporate Culture in Small Business: Maintaining a vibrant working climate can help companies — including small businesses — to weather all types of ups and downs. See this post for insights on the value of fostering a positive corporate culture.

Work-Life Integration for Finance Pros: It’s About Synergy and Control: Work-life balance is an important retention tool. But have you heard about a newer concept that’s been gaining traction in many workplaces? It’s called work-life integration, and you can learn more about it in this post.

Don’t Let the Good Ones Get Away: 5 Steps Every Manager Should Take to Retain Star Employees: Would you stop top performers from walking out the door if you could? Boosting your retention efforts can help. Try the five steps outlined in this post.

This post was updated from April 2014 to reflect more current information.

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