Do Younger Team Members Need Lessons in Etiquette?

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Dear Bev,

We have a new team member who joined during COVID. He is a fairly new college graduate, around 24-years old. There are some basic things we expect from him in his capacity supporting us in operations –responding to emails from the partners or coming to a Zoom discussion dressed appropriately (he often joins wearing a no-sleeve gym t-shirt). Once on Zoom, he took a call from a friend. He didn’t mute fast enough and we heard him say “Yuh, I’ll be there Saturday night – looking forward to it with all of youse.”

He doesn’t use poor grammar with us, but confirming a night out with friends while we were on a call was out of line.

One of our senior partners, a woman with a son around his age, spoke with him. He told her he’d never learned good business etiquette and so this was all new to him. He promised her he was going to “try harder to follow the rules” and she is now his biggest supporter.

However, for the rest of us, nothing has changed. Our clients are mostly all retired or older. They come from a time period of grace, class and sophistication. Most get on Zoom meetings dressed up as if they are going to an elegant dinner party. I realize his role is mostly behind the scenes, but it worries me if he is on the phone with any of our clients, or joining a Zoom call, that he won’t have enough sense to be thoughtful about how it comes across.

Is this the new generation? They don’t care about communication, dress codes or being polite? We need to uphold standards in our firm. I don’t particularly want to know what “youse” is doing over the weekend but I believe we do have a right to insist what goes on in our workplace.