Friday, June 25, 2010

Join the “Worklife Line” Chat – Beginning Monday, July 19, 7 p.m. CST

Statistics show we spend nearly 2,000 hours per year at work and this doesn’t include overtime. Essentially we will spend more time at work than with our families and even when we are not physically at work, we are still there mentally because we bring work home – discussing the work days events (good or bad, but mostly bad), bringing work home, or allowing ourselves to be accessible or on call even after standard work hours.

So because we will spend so much time with our second family – the employer, we need to be able to be effective and productive while maintaining stability.

Join Dewoun Hayes, Worklife Coach, on a weekly call to discuss work related topics that will motivate, inspire, and allow you to refocus your energies in order to do what we will be doing until we retire – WORK!

Those who will benefit from this call:
• Dedicated working individuals
• Unemployed, aspiring people seeking change, comfort, and support
• Managers, supervisors
• College students
• Stay at home moms/dads
• People committed to developing, improving, or expanding or their capabilities

Purpose of the call:
• Offer weekly motivation and inspiration
• Share ideas/thoughts about your worklife
• Develop and improve interpersonal skills
• Provide personal empowerment

Every Monday, beginning July 19, 7 p.m. CST
Topic: New Beginnings – Finding a New Focus
Dial-in #: 1-712-432-3030
Passcode: 346621

This is an interactive call, share your thoughts and views about your worklife, get inspired from others, and find your motivation to complete the work week! There will be a different topic each week.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Proper Business Dining Etiquette

I have been to lunches and dinners where people inadvertently take the wrong glass, use the wrong utensil with the meal, or display improper dining etiquette, such as starting to eat before everyone is served or talking with their mouth full.

What kind of impression does this make to your guests or table partners? If this was a formal business dinner meeting, these minor indiscretions could cost you and your company a valuable business connection. Here are some rules to make a positive impression at a lunch or dinner party positive:

Rule #1: Start from the outside and work your way in.
At the place setting, you will see forks on the left and knives and spoons on the right. Starting from the far left is the salad fork, then the main entrée fork, and the desert fork. On the far right, are the soup spoon, teaspoon, and the dinner knife. The first meal is usually the salad so you will use the fork on the far left. If the main entrée is the salad, then use the entrée fork (second in the middle).

Rule #2: Don't steal your neighbor's glass!
Your glass is always on your right. If you are in more formal gathering, you can have up to four glasses. They are usually arranged in a diagonal or roughly square pattern. The top left glass is for red wine. It will usually have a fairly large bowl. Directly below that you will find the white wine glass, which will be smaller. At the top right, you will find a champagne glass. Your water glass is on the bottom right. At more informal events, the water glass will be already filled so the guesswork is eliminated – remember it is always on your right!

Rule #3: Put your napkin in the right place
When you sit down, open your napkin and place in your lap. If you have to excuse yourself, and you are not finished with your meal, place the napkin in your seat. This says to the waitstaff that you will be returning. When you are finished place your napkin partly folded, never crumpled, at the left of your plate.  Even a paper napkin should never be crushed and tossed into your plate.  

Rule #4: Eat when everyone is served.

Don't start eating until everyone at your table is served. Then when your host, hostess, or senior person picks up their fork, then you may eat. I attended a luncheon and the person at my table was having problems with her lunch because she had dietary restrictions and her meal was the last to be served and took the longest. I did not eat until she was served.

Rule#5: Never eat with your mouth full.
This is out of courtesy and respect for your table partners so that food does not come out of your mouth. Who wants to see your food? If someone asks you a question, while you have food in your mouth, politely continue to eat it, when you take the last swallow, take your napkin to wipe your mouth, place it back in your lap, and then speak.

Rule #6: Don't forget the tip!
I was at a lunch meeting and people were wondering how much to tip the waitress. The rule of thumb is that a tip is typically 15 – 20% of the bill. If the service was extraordinary, tip 25%. Sometimes the tip is included for larger groups. In more formal settings, the following guide can be used to tip the staff:

Wine steward – 15% of wine bill
Valet - $2.00 - $5.00
Bartender – 15%-20% of bar bill
Coat check - $1.00 per coat

Of course, these rules change slightly if you are in foreign countries or will be dining with international guests, so don't forget to do your homework of their countries customs. Making a good impression is essential in business. I didn't mention the obvious rules like arrive at least 10 minutes early – never be late and never leave before your guests. If you practice good etiquette, not only will your guests remember you in a positive manner as a representative of your company, but the staff at the restaurant will remember you as well (good or bad!).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Copy and Pasters BEWARE!

The Copy and Paste feature is probably the best invention since the ‘undo!’ And even though it increases productivity, eliminates key strokes, and cuts the time to complete tasks by at least half, there are some precautions that you should take when using this function. Below is a list of common mistakes to avoid when using the copy and paste feature.

1. Not changing salutation.
If the previous message was to Mr. Jones and the next one is to Ms. Baker, she may be offended receiving a message that starts off ‘Dear Mr. Jones.’

2. Review the content.
After copying the message, be sure that there isn’t additional or special information that needs to be added or deleted for specific individuals. If this is the case, perhaps the copy and paste feature should not be used.

3. Failure to Proofread.
If the original message had grammatical or spelling errors then all subsequent messages using the same message will have those same errors.

4. Half of the message was not copied.
Be sure to copy the entire message to be included in the message. Sometimes in haste, a word or phrase is omitted and then the message doesn’t make sense and it looks incomplete and unprofessional.

5. Two signature lines in the message.

The Copy and Paste tool is very helpful and cuts production time in half; however, if you are copying a message to paste in a new email, don’t copy your signature line because it should be included when you open a new message in email.

6. Forgetting the attachment.
Copying and pasting works for the body of the document but unfortunately, does not include an attachment. In an effort to remember the attachment, try using the ‘forward’ feature; remember to delete the ‘to’ and ‘from’ information from the previous email and the ‘fwd’ in the subject line.

The copy and paste feature is an effective function to use to increase production time and can make our lives easier, but if we aren’t cautious we could look unprofessional and the time it takes to resend the same message or calling to clarify the message could deter from other task.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

10 Lessons Office Professionals Can Learn from Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson, current coach of the Los Angles Lakers, is revered as one of the greatest basketball coaches in history. Nicknamed, the Zen Master, he has won 10 NBA Titles as coach and has the most championships in NBA history. Phil Jackson has a unique approach to coaching and has written several books on the subject. He is a success on and off the court.

Similar to basketball players, we learn the strategies (skills) we need to complete the tasks and responsibilities that are entrusted to us by our employer. Each day, we are on the court (workplace) implement “plays” (making decisions) so that we can stay in the game (remain employed) and ultimately reach the championship to reap the rewards (promotion). As office professionals, we can observe his coaching tactics and style and apply them to the workplace environment. Here are ten lessons office professionals can learn from Phil Jackson in order to be successful on the “court.”

1. Always Remain Calm.
Commentators have made remarks about how Phil Jackson always keeps his composure and is always calm, even when the game isn’t going in his favor. This is something to learn because appropriate results cannot occur if you are irrational or emotional. In the workplace, we are approached by difficult co-workers, demanding supervisors, and irate customers or clients who can test our patience. The important factor is to think before you react and most importantly, remain calm. Assess the situation and come to a conclusion of how to approach the situation as a calm, cool, and collected individual.

2. Concentrate.

Phil Jackson is always telling his players to concentrate on the game and stay focused. In the workplace, we must concentrate on tasks and projects for accuracy and completion. If our attention is diverted, we lose track and have to re-focus which by that time could be too late.

3. Take a time out.

Sometimes we have to get out of the game to rest and refocus. Sit down and think about what you are doing, now is the time to strategize about what your next play will be. As office professionals, we need to realize that we may need to take ourselves out in order to re-evaluate our current plan.

4. Own up to mistakes and do something about it.

As a coach, Phil Jackson allows his team to make mistakes and then expects them to correct them. In other words, learn from your mistakes. This lets his team know that we are all human and make mistakes in the game, it is our responsibility to acknowledge those mistakes and make plans to correct them.

5. Give 100 percent wherever you go.

From 1989 to 1998, Phil Jackson was able to lead the Chicago Bulls to six championships. Then he started the new millennium leading the Los Angeles Lakers with three championships. He has made his point clear that wherever you go, give 100 percent. When you leave a job or department, go to the next with one thing in mind, to be the best you can be and give it your all everyday!

6. Teamwork is vital to any organization.
Phil Jackson once said, “Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We." Trust within a team is important to its success and trust is built through communication. Just like a basketball team, workplace teams need to communicate with each other so that each member knows what the strategy will be to complete the task or project.

7. Take pride in what you do.
Phil Jackson always has his head held high, even when his team is losing and not completing the proper plays. At the end of the day, he knows he is a good coach and comes back the next day with the same attitude as the previous game. Take pride in what you do. I hear so many people when asked what they do for a living say, “I am just……” You are not “just” anything! Recognize that you make a difference in your job and that you are an important asset to the company. Office professionals are the backbone of the office, everyone looks to us for answers, we know what’s going on in the office at all times, and we know where everything is, so why wouldn’t we be assets?

8. Don’t let challenges deter you from your goal.
"People think I would never take on a team that has no legitimate chance to win a championship,... This is one of the major misconceptions about me. Success can be measured in many different ways. . . . Either way, I would find the challenge invigorating." If Phil Jackson would have looked at Chicago as a challenge and not accepted the position as head coach, who knows what the history of the Chicago Bulls would be. If you aren’t open to challenges, such as a new job responsibility, you may be passing up the chance of a promotion or at least letting your supervisor and others know that you are capable of getting the job done.

Throughout the day office professionals are approached with challenges and difficult situations – it’s a part of the job. As duties and responsibilities are increasing, so is the need for people to be able to solve problems effectively and come out on top. Approach a challenge as a way to improve or develop your skills, show the fans (colleagues) that you are the right person for the job!

9. Set goals.
"The ideal way to win a championship is step by step." Completing the steps to reach goals gets you to the reward. We need to set short and long term goals in order to complete our goals. Having a clear outline of what those steps are gets you one step closer to completion.

10. Always have a plan B.

"Yes, victory is sweet, but it doesn't necessarily make life any easier the next season or even the next day." Now that you have reached your goal, what do you do now? Plan for the next. Phil Jackson never stops at one win; he is always looking and planning for the next and so should you. There is always another set of goals that need to be accomplished, so start planning.

Think of Phil Jackson as your coach and you are in the huddle, he is asking you to focus and think about a new strategy to approach how you play the game. Come out of the huddle, charged up and rejuvenated and ready to start a new quarter with a new attitude. This is a good plan of success for office professionals and to get that “championship ring.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

Digital Detox

A friend reminded me today that even though technology has made our lives so much easier and productive, we cannot forget that some age-old methods of getting tasks done are still effective. I was online completing a form that required a phone number and I didn’t have the phone number handy, while I was conducting a search on the internet, my friend got a regular phonebook and found the phone number before my page could load to show me the results of my search.

This made me realize that our fast, convenient gadgets are not always the most reliable. I thought about how prepared I was as an administrative professional for the possibility of a loss of the technology that I use each day. What if I couldn’t access the internet? If my files were lost, how could I do my job effectively? Here are a few ways to prepare yourself for the worst:

1. Backup electronic files.

Most businesses have an IT department that may take care ensuring that your files can be accessible if your computer crashed. But what if the IT department couldn’t access those files either? The IT department is just like any other department and they are not immune to system crashes and viruses although they should be more prepared. So what do you do?

As second in command of the office (next to the supervisor- we are really first in command because everyone rely on us, but we like to let supervisors think they are first- don’t tell the secret!) we should have a plan B if we are going to have to work offline.

My suggestion would be to backup your documents, electronic files, spreadsheets, etc. on a thumb drive that has sufficient memory; some people burn CDs of their files. In the event your system crashes or you get some terrible virus, you will be able to access documents and work on another computer while IT restores your data. And your supervisor would not have a heart attack because you need to print the materials for this week’s team meeting. A good practice is to perform a weekly backup of documents and files.

2. Backup SMARTPhone Data.

I have a Blackberry and would hate to lose my contacts and calendar, but stuff happens. Each day, I use the Blackberry Desktop Software to sync my computer. My contacts, tasks, and calendar are updated if there are any changes. If you don’t have the software, copy and paste the following link in your web browser Did I mention that it’s FREE!

3. Organize paper files.

Even though we are encouraged to “go green,” there are still cases for which paper files are needed. Keep paper files organized so that just in case you need to access them, you can get to information quickly. Schedule a day or time to file loose documents so that your area is “clutter free.” Statistics show that 6 out of 10 administrative professionals touch the same piece of paper at least 21 times a day!

As an office professional, we are charged with maintaining and managing the office, this includes preparing for worst case scenarios and having an alternative plan. The possibility of losing electronic files due to viruses, crashes, and downed servers are situations that require a Plan B. Do you have a Plan B?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Increase Productivity with Keyboard Shortcuts


Try these keyboard shortcuts to increase productivity time, and decrease the time it takes to complete tasks.

1. To minimize a window to your toolbar, press ALT, SPACEBAR and N.
2. To maximize a window to your full screen, hit ALT, SPACEBAR, X.
3. To reduce the size of a window without hiding it, press ALT, SPACEBAR, R.
4. To close a window, hit ALT and F4.
5. To go to the last window you had open, simultaneously click ALT and TAB.
6. To select one window when you have several open, hold down ALT, and maneuver by clicking TAB to the window you want.