Category Archives: Office Manager Tips

Office Manager Tip: The Inside Counts

A beautifully decorated cake. Muffins that look divine. All the beauty of the world, all of the decorating technique and fondant available cannot save it from it’s inevitable fate: the first bite.

It’s amazing how just one bite can ruin all of that hard work.  As they say, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

You may have worked hard to put together a presentation, but have you proofread it?

Did you assemble a fantastic proposal with the best materials Staples could offer? I bet it looks phenomenal. What will happen when the client opens it?  Are the pages in order? Do the labels match the titles?

Did you scan a document then email it away without checking it first? Was it even the right attachment?

Did you even open it to check?

That’s the thing folks, in all the hustle and bustle, with all of the rush and pressure of your day and tasks on hand, you still have to “proof” your work.

I’ve pressed “SEND” enough times to know this:  there is such a thing as working too fast.

 For Thought:

Office Manager Tip: Where’s My Gold Star?

Gold stars: I think they ruined us as a culture.

There are moments when I say to myself, “Hey, I did this great thing, where is my gold star?”

Why did I long for  recognition? After some introspection and consideration, I realized that I, along with the rest of my generation, had been trained since childhood to believe that any sort of achievement deserves recognition. We get a gold star for doing our homework, a gold star for bringing it to school; even, a gold star for attendance.

It used to be that at a track meet, for instance, winners taking first, second, and third place would receive medals and everyone else just accepted failure. (Failure is undervalued as a valid human experience able to teach us so many things about life and our own character, but that’s another blog post.) Now people get ribbons for participation.

Since when did “showing up” become worthy of a reward?

Well, “showing up” is just the minimum requirement. Perhaps if you just show up at school you will do alright. It’s possible that showing up is all that you need to do to earn a paycheck, but it certainly isn’t praiseworthy.

Neither is emptying the dishwasher. (If I’ve just confused you, read my first post explaining the analogy.)

In other words, do your job well, and do it to the best of your ability, but don’t expect praise for the mundane tasks.

Let’s face it, being an office manager, though it comes with challenges, isn’t brain surgery. Just because I reorganize all of the personnel files into red, pressboard files with dividers, doesn’t mean anyone will notice, care, or thank me. Nor should they. That expectation is the gateway drug to bitterness in a job, plaguing even the most unsuspecting offices.

Be proud of your work and chalk it up as a testament of your character; you’re not going to get a Nobel Peace Prize just because you came up with another awesome Excel spreadsheet.

Okay, here is my disclaimer; please read it before you comment or burn my effigy.

Were I writing as a business owner, I’d encourage all of my peers to notice the quality of work that their employees are producing and thank them for it.  Nothing out of the ordinary, but to make it a habit which, not only encourages the behavior you want to continue in your office, but will motivate other employees to stay on track.  However, I am writing to my own peers:  the minions in the office typing away at their keyboards relentlessly doing work that is needed, but often overlooked.  


For Thought:

Office Manager Tip: Leave With a Clean Desk

We’ve all heard the axiom, “Cluttered desk, cluttered mind.” Arguably, it is true. Learning about yourself is never a bad thing and I constantly seek out ways to become more efficient.  In order to do that, a certain level of honesty is needed.  Look in the mirror, smile, and get the lettuce out of your teeth.

One such introspection is this: I work much better in a clean environment. Were I to go home tonight and bake a cake, I would start by cleaning the kitchen.  I cannot function in chaos; both a drawback and a prized skill.

I like to have the kitchen countertops cleared and dishwasher loaded when I go to bed so that when the alarm clock insists on waking me at 5:00 a.m., I will be ready to put on the kettle, make my lunch, grind the coffee, eat breakfast, and get on with the rest of my tasks.

That philosophy applied to my desk works wonders for me.  At the end of the day, I clear off my desk, reorganize my inbox, make notes for anything that needs to be done tomorrow, etc.  When I arrive the next day, my office is ready to greet me for another day’s work and I don’t feel rushed or behind at the get-go.

For Thought:

Office Manager Tip: Fabulous

Do you remember the Swiss trucks driving around that say “You can’t say ‘Swiss’ without a smile?”  This is because of the way our facial muscles move to form the “s” sibilance.

In an effort to cope with phone calls, a weakness of mine, I have developed a bit of a strategy based upon my (unscientific) testing and trial.  Not only do I have a mental script that I adhere to, but I have found that I always get a varied, yet great, reaction out of folks when my answer to “How are you?” is “Fabulous!

The answer is unexpected; therefore, it is disarming.  This causes the other party to relax a bit (it breaks the ice), state how they are doing, and ask if I really am really fabulous.  I am then able to proceed with the call in friendly manner, having already established a rapport.

You may wonder why this tip is even remotely relevant.  Consider the following quote from Christine Knott’s article “How to use vocal pitch and pace on the phone” (2/25/09):

Put into percentage terms it equates to 7 per cent words, 38 per cent vocal characteristics, and 55 per cent body language.  This means that over half the message is transferred by our body actions and facial expressions, which are viewed in order to receive the content of the message.

When the transmission of our message relies solely on our voice, as in a phone call, there is a maximum of 45% communication resources available–less than half. Continue reading

Office Manager Tip: Keep Everyone’s Hands Full

Early on in my career it was drilled into my head to base my priorities on what would keep someone else working. In other words, when I am finished with this task, who handles it next?

Filing? Filing is the ultimate last step; it doesn’t affect anyone else.  This is what makes filing a low-priority, but not low-level task. I mean, the alphabet still applies.

Check run?  I have to get the signature, so I need my boss. I have to mail it, so I need to beat the mailman. The vendor needs to deposit their check. There is a simple listing of three people potentially waiting for me to finish my task.

Signed Contract? It needs to be opened, given to the president to sign, then mailed back.

Deposits? I have to copy the check, fill out the slip, and give it to someone to take to the bank who will return with the receipt so that I can process the deposit and do a check run.

Continue reading