Category Archives: Inside the Office

Mistake # 95: Let there be gossip!

How many companies have your worked for where gossip was king?!  I have had plenty in my day. And, when a company is expecting to conduct layoffs, the gossip becomes rampant; people become fearful; and production goes down the tubes.

An article in the NY Times illustrates how one company eliminated gossiping. When hired, an “agreement to values” is signed so that people are not talked about behind someone’s back. If so, the company has the right to let the individual go, since it is a breach of their agreement. Most importantly, the company management keeps information, including layoffs, timing, reasons for layoffs, all out in the open. Knowing what is expected of each individual, and holding each other accountable, eliminates the need for office gossip.

Further, the company identified how employees can communicate with diverse personalities within the company.  Can you imagine how they can be successful with the diverse personalities of your customers?!

Awesome company! Bravo!

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Mistake # 94: Hire someone who makes demands

I just made an offer to an individual who will serve as customer service support. Ahem. I think I may have to retract the offer. She is demanding to start at a particular time in the morning, and needing to leave during a particular time in the afternoon. During the interview, I explained that the company makes every attempt to be flexible with hours. For example, we have several single mom’s who come in early and need to leave to get to day care later in the afternoon. Some come in later to accommodate for different time zones across the country. If someone has to leave for a doctor’s appointment, we allow to make up the hours throughout the course of the week, etc.

I think she heard what she wanted to hear, but not what I was explaining. If she is making these demands now, what kind of employee will she be?!

Mistake # 85: The consultant is working on it

Wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong way of thinking.  I’ve worked with many consultants in my life. Some I even learned from so much, that they became mentors (two, in particular). However, when you have consultants that really don’t have something specific to do, but are on the monthly company expense report, it’s really hard to justify.

Being a consultant right now could be very lucrative, since many companies have reduced hiring and controlling their activities by hiring freelance work.

Being a consultant right now could be very lucrative, since many companies have reduced hiring and controlling their activities by hiring freelance work.

When you do hire a consultant, I suggest that you at least follow these tips:

* Have specific outcomes monthly on what you expect that individual to perform.  It seems like a very obvious tip, but you would be surprised on how months go by and you are wondering what that individual is actually doing out there!

* Ask the individual to put together a monthly report on activities with specific deliverables attached, along with their invoice. This will monetize the value of this individual on what he/she is performing.

* Speak with the consultant weekly to answer questions, ask questions, identify if he/she is on track—or on the wrong track—to accomplish the assigned project. Just thinking that they are doing what they need to do could be a big problem in the end. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Finally, be sure to evaluate the value of the work the consultant has performed every 3-6 months. You’ll be glad you did!

Mistake # 84: The numbers just don’t add up!

Why is it that every company I’ve worked for has different sales numbers all over the place, and they never add up! I am trying to put together my progress report for the month, and there it is! Six different ways to look at one sales rep’s sales.

Why are they different?  Who knows. All I know is that I’ll spend another hour in the CFO’s office on Monday trying to have him explain which number I should use for my report. Again.

Martini anyone?

Mistake # 83: Text message in the wrong places

Are there etiquette rules out there for adults on text messaging? Anywhere? How about if you are at dinner with your boss and you receive a text message? Should you answer back in between bites of shrimp or prime ribs?

I say nay, nay. I was at dinner not too long ago and my direct-report received a text. He puts his fork down and answers away.  Head down to his lap to poke his fat fingers on the phone’s buttons, I’m still talking to his bald spot on his head. What’s with that?! Is that really necessary?! What happens when he’s at his desk and in the middle of a conference call on the office phone. Does he do that too? It’s unlikely that it is from a customer, because, let’s be honest, what customer would text message a representative for more information?!

Here are three rules for text messaging for employees:

* Text messages are like emails. Answer them when you can, but don’t stop the train to do so. Take a break and go out to a hallway or the work break room to answer your text message.

* Don’t text message in front of your boss. If you do, there are likely to be questions on how you are spending your time–at the computer answering customer questions, or on your phone answering your wife’s questions on what color she should color her hair.

*Don’t ever text message at dinner with clients or your boss. Ever. If you do, it will look like you are not paying attention to the conversation and you have other things to do tend to. “Dad, did u deposit my $ yet? I want 2 go 2 the muveez w/Jak!”

What are your rules for text messaging at work?

Mistake # 82: Create an office mess

My office—and the work stations around me—are a mess! I need a day to clean my space. I’ve got soda cans (due to the cold caffeine needed throughout the day), piles that I have yet time to organize, etc. In all the years (two to be exact) that I have been at my current job, I have never even had time to hang pictures! My office looks worse than a doctor’s examining room. Help!

What does your workspace look like?

Mistake # 79: Create a sweat-shop environment

I signed off for someone to take vacation this past week. She is sales support and cranks getting quotes out and orders processed. However, all hell broke out. Someone (from another department) even recommended me calling her back from her vacation to help the overloaded staff.

What?! Did I hear that right? We’re not curing cancer, doing brain surgery, or landing men on the moon. We are selling products and processing orders for those products. Yes, it was chaos. Yes, it was not good timing. But when is timing ever great?

I realize that, as a manager, I need to focus on work flow, when people should, and should not, take vacations. I also realize that I have final authority to deny vacations at any point in time.

But even I had to be out that week (taking my son to move into his dorm as a first year college freshman); and another sales manager had to take her mother for testing and needed to be out most of one day. Further, the President of the company was out for two days at the end of the week to fly to a family wedding on the east coast; and the CEO was out for two weeks during this time (after being back only one week in the office after his vacation) for a family wedding on the west coast, traveling with his family, and seeing the California sights.

So I it really wasn’t necessary to even consider bringing this person back from her vacation. I think the company will still be standing when she returns on Monday. In fact, I’m certain of it!