Everyone has pet peeves. This is true at home and in the office. And although it’s probably easier to control which way the toilet paper roll faces, the pet peeves people have in business can be just as – if not more – frustrating.
I thought I’d use this opportunity to address some of my pet peeves in business. This isn’t a passive aggressive way of telling my coworkers that they annoy me, but rather a chance to take a look at some prevailing “office-etiquette” idiosyncrasies and some ways to make them more productive.
- Replying all: Despite the rise of Twitter and Facebook, email continues to be the most used form of communication in business. As a result, business professionals spend much of their day sifting through the influx of messages flooding their inbox. This can be time consuming when you consider the number of messages the average person receives daily – between 120 and 150 according to Phil Simon, author of “Message Not Received.” This ongoing struggle is only made more difficult by the dreaded “reply all” button. Replying all can be helpful for maintaining strong communication with multiple parties. But, 20 replies saying “looks great,” “awesome” or “thanks for sharing” can start to clutter up the inbox. The person who sent the email certainly would love to hear how wonderful you think it is, but for the rest of the people copied, it’s just one more email they have to delete.
- Stretch goals: Goals are everywhere in business. It’s important to know what you’re striving for in order to effectively develop a strategy, establish a timeline and evaluate your efforts. But if you also set a “stretch goal,” aren’t you really saying, “This is what I actually want my goal to be, but I’m not confident that I can achieve it?” Having two separate goals just complicates things. For example, if you meet your goal but fall short of the stretch goal, did you succeed or fail? Your answer to that question may be very different than the answers of your boss, your client or other stakeholders. With the constant pressure to meet goals, present metrics and analyze results, make sure everyone starts off on the same page – by agreeing on what the actual goal is. There will always be other things to debate later – like budget and resources or what the next goal should be.
- No phone number in your email signature: While email is the most used form of communication in business (see #1), sometimes it’s best to just pick up the phone and call someone. But sometimes it’s not that easy. What if you can’t find their phone number? A logical place to look would be the person’s email signature. However, too often you find everything else – their title, company name, address and logo, Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook/Instagram profiles – just not a phone number. Why hide it? If someone already has an email with your signature in it, there’s a pretty good chance you know them and would want to talk with them.
- Unnecessary and inefficient meetings: If you’re a business professional, odds are you
probably have a more work to do than time to get it done. So you don’t want to waste valuable time sitting in unnecessary meetings or ones that drag on. According to business success author Brian Tracy, as much as 50% of working time is spent in meetings, and at least 50% of that time is wasted. While that’s not always the case, most of us probably experience unproductive meetings regularly. Since meetings are necessary in business, just make sure that time is used wisely. In his list of “7 Ways to Make Meetings More Efficient,” Tracy says to first, determine if the meeting is necessary. If it is, establish a clear purpose for the meeting and write an agenda, covering important items first. And start and stop on time.
- Buzzword overload: As I addressed in my last blog post, there is an epidemic of overusing buzzwords in marketing content. Whether it’s constantly inserting vague adjectives like “innovative” and “game-changing” or using the latest industry lingo like “omni-channel” or “Internet of Things,” the pursuit to be connected to the hottest trends and phrases often leads to creating a jumbled mess that’s full of a whole lot of words, but very little substance. There’s a simple solution to this: stop doing it!
- Calibri font – I just don’t get it. Why did Microsoft make this the default font for Word? And why do people actually like using it? I’m not exactly sure why, but something about this font I just don’t like. I never use it and will usually change documents sent to me in Calibri to another Arial font before reading them. #ArialFontForLife
- Overly-gated content: Content is used to generate leads, and gating that content can be a good way to identify who is reading it. But, I shouldn’t have to write an autobiography to download something. The more fields someone has to fill out to access something, the higher the risk that they’ll decide it’s not worth the hassle. For example, by cutting the fields in its contact form from 11 to 4, Imagescape increased it conversion rate by 120%. So while marketing today is all about gathering and analyzing data, ask yourself how much information is worth the risk of scaring away a lead. Do you really need to someone’s job title, address or company size, or would their name, email address and phone number have sufficed?
Now this blog post wasn’t meant to be a rant about all of the things that bug me. There are real business reasons for my pet peeves (except for maybe my dislike of Calibri font). Think about why certain things bug you and vice versa, if someone share’s a pet peeve with you, especially if it’s something that you do, think about why it bothers them. There quite possibly may be a real business reason behind it.
What are your biggest business pet peeves? Are you guilty of any of the pet peeves listed above?
Author: Stephen Dye, Senior Account Manager, Outlook Marketing Services