Social etiquette is important for your future rock stars


The current buzzword in strategic HR is talent management as organisations develop, integrate and reward their employees. They have realised that if they want to take their businesses to the next level, the most important area they need to focus on is the talent they need to acquire so they can achieve their business goals.  

Effective talent pipelines need people with different skills sets and fresh ideas, which are linked to succession planning. This will make recruiting Gen Y graduates an integral part of any talent management strategy.

Attracting energetic, enthusiastic graduates and strategically placing them in relevant positions in your organisation is the first step.  Regardless of the candidate’s skills, competencies, ability and qualifications, if there are clashes in the workplace you will be defeating the purpose of filling the position from day one.

Many Gen Y recruits are your organisation’s future rock stars

“Unfortunately, members of this generation often bring with them a sense of entitlement and an attitude that can only lead to conflict in the rest of the team. Apart from upsetting the harmony in a department, it can also have a rapid and negative impact on clients,” added Michele Harpur, managing director of DNA GradFactory. Losing a client can lead to a huge dent on cash flow and may result in an unrecoverable revenue stream.  

The key for employers is to provide an integrated approach to meet the needs of all team members

Exposing the knowledge-holders to what is required of a business mentor and the role expected of them when it comes to talent development, and giving them the tools to engage with the new recruit, will aid knowledge transfer.  

Similarly, these new recruits are really just inexperienced young people entering a completely foreign landscape – the new world of work.  Apart from their respective qualifications, they really do not have that much to offer at this entry stage and will need to work really hard for quite a while to gain the respect of their co-workers, the organisation and industry colleagues.  In reality, this can be quite a daunting and anxious time and a feeling of isolation could be compounded by a complete lack of business etiquette skills.  

Formal communication skills, open-plan workspaces, networking and acceptable social graces do not normally form part of an academic qualification. And you cannot assume that everyone was exposed to a common code of behaviour while growing up. After all, the richness of the diverse cultures that make up our Rainbow Nation is what we, as South Africans, value. But it does not mean that this code of behaviour should be overlooked.

If a company provides a new hire with a rich on-boarding process, the orientation and integration into the business happens at a quicker pace and the recruit starts to add value to the business almost from the beginning. The orientation programme should not just be an exposure to the policies of the company but should include the unsaid rules of the workplace and the social finesse the recruit needs to impact positively on the brand of the company.  Ultimately, we want these recruits to be able to communicate, proudly and confidently, professionalism both in their appearance and in their business etiquette – they must walk the professional talk.

It is often said that 85% of job success related to getting, keeping and advancing in a job is connected to your people skills and the other 15% is attributed to technical knowledge and skills. Giving your new recruits these skills and behaviour codes will ultimately positively impact on your workforce development strategy.

by Pauls Gibbons

This article first appeared on HR Pulse.

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