Case Study – Is it Time for some Tough Love with my Students?
A few years ago I had the interesting job of delivering a Three-Day Young Adult’s Business Etiquette Course to three Chinese teenagers. They had relocated to the UK two months earlier to study for A-level qualifications, with the long-term goal of being accepted into an Oxbridge university.
These young gentlemen were incredibly bright, academically speaking. What we would call ‘straight-A students’ in the UK.
Their parents had arranged the business etiquette class for them as, being new to the British culture, they wished their sons to receive the best chance of educational success, and understood the importance of a swift and smooth immersion into the western world.
The young men were not exactly enamoured to be spending their first half-term break in the UK partaking in an etiquette course. I could understand that. However, it was an opportunity that many sixteen year olds would have been grateful for, given the highly competitive market that our school leavers and graduates now find themselves in.
What some people don’t know about me is that, prior to retraining as an Etiquette Coach, I worked for fifteen years in the City of London within the corporate sector. I therefore have quite a lot of experience of working in one of the world’s leading financial centres, and I am aware of the reality of what employers are really looking for when they interview candidates.
By the end of the first day it became apparent that the young men in question did not feel they needed interpersonal skills training as, in their words, ‘we are so bright we will get any job we want’.
Houston, we have a problem; it was time for some tough love.
So, with composure and kindness, I gently explained to them about my previous business experience and that, as an employer, firstly, I would expect my candidates to have achieved the necessary qualifications but secondly, and most importantly, I would want to be assured that they would be a good fit for my team.
This is absolutely essential in determining the success of the recruitment process. If employees do not fit into the culture they will not be happy. Eventually they will leave, which is both costly and unproductive.
Skills can be taught, but personalities cannot be changed. It is therefore essential to make the right decision as much as is possible.
Some of the questions that I would ask myself when considering my candidates are:
- What are their attitudes?
- Do they show care and respect in their appearance and body language?
- How do they connect with other people, both potential colleagues and future clients?
- How do they make others feel?
- Do they make good eye contact?
- Can they instigate small talk?
- Could I potentially allow them to dine with important influencers?
I am pleased to report that day two and three were conducted with a more positive attitude, and I hope the skills they learned laid a solid foundation for them to build on.
During the One-Day Young Adult’s Business Etiquette Course, which is available to students of all nationalities from the age of 16, these, plus other vital interpersonal skills are taught, and my students are given the opportunity to practice and role-play with other like-minded people.
For more information on this course please click here.