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  • Writer's pictureJohn Kador

The Manager’s Book of Decencies

The Manger’s Book of Decencies: How Small Gestures Build Great Companies by Stephen Harrison

I was proud to be the writing partner for Stephen Harrison, a principal of Lee, Hecht Harrison, one of the larger outplacement and career management companies in the U.S., for his book, TheManager’s Book of Decencies. It was published by McGraw-Hill in 2006. In this provocative book, Harrison considered a thorny and often ambiguous issue with which today’s business leaders must grapple—how best to create corporate cultures that are receptive to the ethical and decent workplaces we all want while resisting the forces of opportunism and unprincipled behavior that have brought such disrepute on business.

There is a philosophy of doing business that goes beyond the transfer of goods and services.It calls for a transfer of values which goes by the name of small decencies. Harrison defines a business decency as a gesture offered without expectation of reward that in ways small and large change the corporate culture for the better.

“A decency must be freely and spontaneously offered. A gesture, however decent, offered to advance an ulterior motive, however beneficial, is not a decency, but a bribe.”

This book shows the way.

Steve Harrison, longtime management and corporate culture innovator, knows one simple truth: The long term success of any company, small or large, local or global, depends largely on its culture. Change a company’s internal culture for the better, and results skyrocket. But can a manager really adjust the culture of an entire work force, especially in a large corporation? Small decencies make it easy, and in this book Harrison describes dozens of such decencies, all field-tested by the best companies in the world. All represent small changes that produce big results.

Addressing concerns at every level of corporate culture, from the entry level to the CEO’s office, Harrison shows how decencies will enhance communication, build teamwork, boost productivity, and create a stronger dedication to a shared mission company-wide. TheManager’s Book of Decencies provides real-life examples of small decencies that result in major business impact, and that you can put to use in your company.

What is a Small Decency?

  1. Greet coworkers authentically and personally

  2. Remember to say thank you-or better yet, write thank you notes

  3. For meetings you convene, be the first to sit down and the last to get up

  4. Welcome visitors by name. Better yet call them “guests”

  5. Answer your own telephone

  6. Give away recognition when things go well; hoard responsibility when they don’t

  7. Convey bad news in person

  8. When you make a mistake, admit it and apologize


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