Business protocol is an extremely important aspect of the formation of relationships within a company and between companies. Protocol can be defined as the proper procedure of conduct. There are many different protocols necessary between different countries and similar care should be taken at all times in business. This will lead to a positive image for your company and your employees.
Different companies have drastically different levels of etiquette. This includes how co-workers treat each other and how formal the working environment is. For example, a very informal environment might yield employees that playfully joke with each other. If a new client were in the office and heard a playful joke out of context, he might think that your company is comprised of rude employees. Etiquette also includes how organized an office appears, the appearance of documents and reports that the office prepares and the way that employees relate to their superiors.
Attire is the one of the first things that will be noticed in a meeting or a visit to the office. Some businesses have very informal attire, allowing their employees to wear jeans and t-shirts. Most offices, however, use business casual or business formal attire as their protocol. This requires button-down shirts for men and women with dress pants or skirts. Men will often wear ties and potentially a suit or sport coat.
The communication protocol of an office can be quickly ascertained by calling the front desk. One receptionist may offer a formal and positive greeting, while a simple “hello” might be the standard greeting at another office. An office may institute specific policies for how employees communicate with each other and how they communicate with incoming calls or visitors. The communication protocol may also include whether employees are available to take calls outside of their normal office hours. It is a frequent occurrence in a busy city to see business people on their phones well before 8 a.m. and well after 6 p.m.
The protocol of the business meeting has changed greatly in the last decade, as many meetings are now incorporating the Internet and video to allow for worldwide capabilities. This gives an employee working from home a chance to both be involved in the meeting and to be much less formal. An employee could conceivably get away with wearing pajama pants to a formal business meeting if working from home. Some businesses have certain protocols set up to ensure that these meetings run a particular way and have specific professional standards.
- Foreign Service Institute: Protocol for the Modern Diplomat
- HBS: Etiquette and National Culture in Negotiation
- Business Protocol: How to Survive & Succeed in Business; Jan Yager; 2000
- white man and woman - business handshake image by endostock from Fotolia.com