Bad Manners and Sexist Behavior

Dear Ken Keller,

At a recent trade show in Las Vegas, I took a prospect and two of my sales team out for an expensive dinner to close a deal. As we dined, I became increasingly embarrassed by the poor table manners displayed by my employees. We did get the business but I’d like to improve the professionalism of my team. Please share your thoughts on how to proceed. —Larry P.

Dear Larry:

I once hosted a workshop for clients on meal etiquette. One attendee criticized me for this, telling me that “everyone should already know this stuff.”

My response was that when people attend a workshop, they either “learn or confirm” and that when the client attended, he “confirmed” what he already knew. For others, it was an opportunity to learn a very important social skill.

I would not single the two people that were with you in Las Vegas. If you make the training mandatory for your entire team, it will be a better investment. Participating will raise the confidence level and morale for every employee.

Hire an experienced consultant for the training, and make it both fun and educational. Because you are specifically focusing on table etiquette, host either a breakfast or lunch session at a local white table cloth establishment. They will be able to work with you to make sure the event is a success for you and for all those who attend.

Dear Ken Keller

When my female employees return from vacation, I have flowers delivered to them at work as a way of saying “We missed you when you were gone.” They appreciate the gesture.

One of my male employees asked why he didn’t get something when he returned from his vacation. I laughed at him and said “Right.” Now he is angry. How do I make peace with this guy? — Ron F.

Dear Ron,

The antics of the Mad Men era were over decades before the TV show aired. You know better.