Many millennials may be familiar with the classic and elegant Plaza Hotel from reading the beloved children’s book Eloise. However, few are likely aware that the New York City establishment is offering business etiquette lessons to young professionals.
The Plaza Hotel Finishing Program, launched in conjunction with the Beaumont Etiquette School’s Myka Meier, emphasizes the importance of showing respect in business situations. Meier covers a host of topics from proper e-mail rules, when to use emojis, and even modest sitting positions.
Offering either hour-long or five-hour intensive courses, the curriculum tackles such issues as dining manners, social interaction, and networking, all with the objective of countering the relaxed manners that typify the young generation of new business professionals.
Other topics addressed are proper hand shaking (only two pumps for business events), starting conversations (avoid the clichéd, “So what do you do?”), and improving eye contact. However, increasing participants’ charm quotient is the real goal. Meier notes that charm is a required ingredient for success, but that it can be learned.
One of the biggest problems facing millennials, Meier says, is that the increase in technology use has made personal conversations land mines for the unpracticed. To help her students, she encourages networking among classmates at the hotel after class sessions.
- Myka Meier has stated that etiquette “has become trendy.” Do you agree? If so, to what do you attribute this new interest in manners and civility?
- Many claim that millennials are careless and lax in their business behavior. What repercussions might such conduct have in the workplace?
- Why is engaging in personal conversations so important for success in the professional world? What can you do now to help prepare yourself to become a more confident conversationalist?
Soft skills are sizzling hot these days. Numerous studies, news articles, and career-advice websites trumpet employers’ needs for staff possessing soft skills—those personal attributes and habits that help an individual communicate, collaborate, think critically, and lead. However, soft skills by their very nature may be difficult to demonstrate, especially during an interview.
LinkedIn’s vice president of global talent, Brendan Browne, says that some companies find soft skills so important they use predictive software to identify potential new hires’ characteristics before even meeting the candidate. The very fact that such software exists epitomizes the importance firms put on soft skills. Not surprisingly, Browne urges job seekers to come to an interview armed with anecdotes that illustrate those attributes.
One of the most important soft skills to emphasize during an interview, says Browne, is grit, the ability to keep going when the going gets tough. Employers want workers who can persevere during difficult times, so candidates should be prepared to tell a story that illustrates this skill.
Another desired soft skill is adaptability, demonstrating how well an individual handles change. Job seekers can help their chances for landing a position by relating an instance during which they faced a major change and came through it on top. In fact, many organizations prefer a person with less experience who can demonstrate adaptability over others with years of experience.
Job seekers should also go into an interview armed with brief stories that illustrate their ability to make decisions and respond during various scenarios. Today’s employers may even stage a crisis during an interview to see how the candidate reacts.
Preparation is the key to any good interview, but coming in with anecdotes that illustrate important soft skills can make the difference in landing the job.
- What is critical thinking, and why do you think employers seek new hires who possess this skill?
- How might you demonstrate strong written and oral communication skills during an interview?
- Why is it a bad idea to exaggerate a soft skill during an interview?
It’s bad enough when a well-known global company such as Volkswagen commits an egregious ethical transgression by blatantly lying to its customers. But when the company also lies to governments and is caught, the lapse is not only an ethical dilemma—it’s a felony.
The Volkswagen emissions scandal first erupted in 2015, when it was discovered that the German automotive company had intentionally programmed some of its models to evade EPA emissions standards. About eleven million cars—500,000 sold in the U.S.—were programmed to pass laboratory testing of emissions to meet regulatory standards. However, once the cars were in use, their emissions went far above those standards.
The fraud was made public by a group of scientists at West Virginia University who revealed how VW, the world’s largest automaker, was using software in its diesel models to subvert pollution regulations. Since then, the rigging of the results has had wide ranging repercussions. After the initial discovery, the Volkswagen CEO stepped down. As recently as January of this year, six VW executives were indicted, and the FBI arrested Volkswagen’s head of regulatory compliance. One VW executive is being held without bail.
The company faces legal fines, consumer backlash, and investor woes. Some say the aftermath of the scandal can have even wider-ranging effects on other German carmakers and even the auto industry at large.
What were they thinking?
- Should corporations have a moral responsibility to be honest about regulations that affect the environment, not people? Why or why not? Was anyone hurt by Volkswagen’s misdeeds?
- What do you think about the mindset that infers anything that an organization does is okay as long as no one is caught?
- Do you think executives who systematically deceived regulators and consumers should serve prison terms?