A list of annoying business habits can be as long as a grocery list. I’ve put together some of the most egregious that I see in the workplace today as well as some of my personal favourites or should I say most annoying.
1. Misuse of the mobile phone/BlackBerry
The mobile phone has undoubtedly changed our lives and we can’t imagine what life was like without them but they have also been the source of much exasperation especially in the workplace. This has to be in the top three for most people and includes answering the phone during meetings and texting or even tweeting while speaking or listening to someone. Even at conferences you’re likely to see people head down buried in their Blackberry’s while someone is speaking at the podium
2. Ringtone and volume of conversation
Ladies and gentlemen – what does your ringtone say about you as a professional? I sat next to this lady doing a brought in do a project in our office and her mobile phone was constantly ringing off the hook and let’s just say that not everyone was as big a fan of that particular genge tune as she was! To add insult to injury, ninety percent of the calls were personal which the whole office was privy to because she had no volume control on her voice. A most annoying three months I’ll tell you!
3. Showing up late for meetings.
I live and work in Nairobi, fact - there will always be traffic but this should never be an excuse to show up late. Do what you have to do to arrive on time – meaning with at least five minutes to spare before the meeting starts. If you are running late, it is good form to call ahead and let the other person know or reschedule. There is no excuse for tardiness if the meeting is in the office where you work. Don’t keep others waiting in the boardroom.
4. Dressing inappropriately or unprofessionally
I’m sure you’ve seen it all as standards plummet to the lowest common denominator – all I have to say is dress for the job you want and find out what the true definition of business casual is.
5. Body odour
Living in a tropical climate is no excuse to ever not be the freshest we can be at all times especially when working in close quarters with others. Trailing in someone else’s funk is no fun for your office colleagues. Be responsible and do a self check and fix the problem. There are plenty of grooming products in all price ranges for everybody. The opposite is too much perfume or cologne. You may be your brother’s keeper, but don’t embarrass the offender in public, talk to them tactfully in private. Oh and another annoying thing, please do not remove your shoes at work either.
6. Bad PowerPoint presentations
PowerPoint has become the default way of communicating to a large audience where it is easy to do a data dump and throw everything into a pre-designed slide template. It is the bane of corporate life to sit in the dark and watch (or more likely snooze) through dense slide after dense slide as the speaker reads back every bullet point verbatim.
7. Overuse of corporate jargon (or any other jargon for that matter)
This one really gets my goat as well worn clichés have overtaken original thought and ideas. Please don’t say “think outside the box” anymore. This list can also be very long and subjective but I’ll add these that have made it from the political field - ‘carry his/her own cross’ and ‘business as usual’.
8. Unprofessional use in official communication
By this I mean everything from forwarded jokes or “send to ten people or else” to smiley faces and XXX’s in business emails and texts. As for the SMS, when communicating for business, you are sending the wrong message by txting lik dis.
9. Turning the washroom into a meeting room
Don’t confuse the loo with the water cooler. Let others handle their business in peace and don’t discuss the minutes of the meeting in there. Cursory conversation on mundane topics like the weather is permissible when washing hands but don’t carry on a conversation when they are still in the stall or even more annoying from stall to stall.
10. Eating pungent smelling food in the office
I’m not talking about a sandwich wolfed down quickly at your desk during lunch hour but bringing in masala chips or fish from home that makes the entire office reek of Kenchic or mbuta is irritating to your workmates and sends the wrong message if customers are present.
(This article appears in the March edition of KIM Management magazine)
Derek and Diana at the Brand Me seminar on how to get the most out of meetings.