How To Deal With A Disgruntled Employee

As the owner of a small company, when a disgruntled employee comes to me with a complaint involving another employee, or employees, I find the best way to deal with it is to hear from everyone involved, individually and then together. I’m sure we’ve all heard the cliché, there are two sides to every story, as well as nothing is black or white, it’s all grey. I find that LISTENING to the employees is of utmost importance. Usually, they calm themselves after airing their views, knowing someone cares enough to hear them after which we can work on resolving their anger/frustration. Taking the time to show that you care and want to help is a great attribute both to you and the employee. Keeping this in mind I have always had 100% positive results.

Disgruntled Employee

If the disgruntled employee’s complaint does not involve another person, but rather a situation, i.e. they would like to sit in an area away from a window; they have expressed concerns about getting a new chair, keyboard, art supplies, to their Supervisor to no avail, I assure them that I will personally take the time to look into the situation, and reach a satisfactory solution, one that is agreeable to all concerned. It works every time.


Our Go To Birthday Gifts For Co-Workers

Somehow, long, long ago, I became the gift buyer for our office. Any time there is a birthday, wedding, retirement or employment anniversary, I am the one everyone turns to figure out what to get. I thought I’d share our go-to birthday gifts that are ideal for coworkers.

Go To Birthday Gifts

Personally, I think gift cards are fabulous. You can get them in large or small amounts, and you can get them for almost any establishment. So, if you are getting a birthday gift for someone and it is just from you, you can get a $10 or $20 gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks, Target or Amazon, or simply a Visa gift card.

If it is a group gift, where you have collected money from a group of people, then a restaurant gift card in a larger dollar amount is usually well received. Another plus for gift cards is that they are so convenient to find. The local drug stores now carry an enormous amount of gift cards from many different stores. Gift cards are truly our go-to birthday gift. The only downside I sometimes hear is that they lack the “personal touch” but that is what makes them perfect gifts for co-workers. You can add a personal touch by writing a nice personalized birthday card to go along with it. Also, if you pick someone’s favorite restaurant, or store, the personal touch is that you knew enough about them to select one of their favorites.

How Do I Deal With A Death In The Office?

When a co-worker loses a loved one, even the most confident among us sometimes find it a challenge to know the right thing to say. The obvious and most practical thing to do when dealing with a death in the office is to send thoughtful sympathy cards with a personal note included. But who among us has not stared at a card, pen in hand, wondering what would be appropriate? It is admirable to want to comfort someone, but the co-worker relationship has to be considered. It is appropriate to express your feelings to your co-worker by recognizing that the person is suffering.  Statements like “I’m sorry for your loss” or “My thoughts are with you and your family at this time” show them that you care.

Sympathy Doves Greeting Card

Don’t avoid a colleague who is grieving simply because you don’t know what to say. Honesty is the best policy in this situation. You can simply say, “I just don’t know what to say, but I am sorry for your loss.” Again, a tasteful sympathy card can come to your rescue if speaking directly to someone about this topic has you stumped. Conversely, offering too much info or advice can overwhelm a co-worker who is coping with a difficult situation. For example, relating about how your grandfather suffered in his final days would not be helpful. In short, an honest, simple response is often the best approach.

Absolute Musts For Meeting Etiquette

When it comes to business meetings, there seems to be some unspoken rules in regards to meeting etiquette. While there is no set of rules etched in stone somewhere in the high halls of some university or ancient library, it can be said that the following guidelines are a general rule of thumb. It boils down to respect, courtesy and professionalism. Generally speaking, it’s all about common sense and basic common courtesy but time and time again, some need to be reminded about proper meeting etiquette. Here’s looking at you, Mike from accounting.

Business Meeting Etiquette

Punctuality – It goes without saying, but if you can’t be there 10-15 minutes early, which is recommended, at least be there on time. There’s nothing worse than embarrassing yourself by missing any of the meeting. Then you’re behind and have no frame of reference for the rest of the meeting and you’ve wasted everyone’s time, including senior management. And don’t think they didn’t notice.

Preparedness – Along with being punctual, if you aren’t prepared, chances are you are wasting everyone’s time yet again. Often, meetings have scheduled time slots and your part is vital in the entire flow of the meeting. Not having your materials or information together can really affect the meeting, not to mention it comes off as unprofessional. Again, you are only hurting yourself here.

Pay Attention – Be attentive during the meeting. Take notes and listen to what everyone is saying. Do not interrupt the speaker. If you have a question, unless it is an open discussion, try to wait it out because your question will most likely be answered by the end of the meeting. Do not fiddle on your phone or check email. It is terribly unprofessional.

Electronics – Unless the use of laptops, tablets or cell phones is vital to the meeting or agreed upon as necessary to take notes, show graphics or slideshows, etc., there is absolutely no reason to be on your device during the proceedings. An emergency call should be the only reason to take a call and even then, excuse yourself and take it out of the room. Keep it turned off or at the least, on vibrate with the volume off.

Conversation – Refrain from having conversation with other people in the middle of the meeting. It is rude and disrespectful of those around you. Save your need to comment or chat until after it is over. Red flag if you even think about putting your hand up to cover your mouth to throw a comment to the person next to you.

Distractions – Electronics are a distraction as it is, but there are still the little quirky things that people do that are inappropriate when it comes to meeting etiquette. Don’t tap your pen or foot or fingers in any manner. Don’t eat a snack or your lunch. Don’t bite your fingernails either. Also, no fidgeting or shuffling papers in a distracting manner either.

Act exactly how you would want others to when you are in the spotlight. Use your brain and common sense. Be professional and courteous to those in the meeting. It can really affect everyone involved and can have an even worse effect on your job. Remember, be professional.

Appropriate Birthday Party Themes for Your Office

Who doesn’t love a good birthday party? However, it’s not always easy to come up with a fun birthday party theme when you’ve got to keep a whole office in mind! Often times, a theme that might seem fantastic to one person can be alienating to someone else. I find the best way to go with appropriate birthday party themes for your office is to choose something that is quirky enough to inspire fun ideas, but broad enough that it allows a bit of room for interpretation.

Lollipop Birthday Card

Here are a couple of fun examples:

TV/Movie Characters – this is a great one because everyone has a favorite TV/movie character (if not a few). There’s so much to choose from as well as a large spectrum of choice in just how elaborately you want to participate. You can go all out with a Darth Vader costume, or just keep it simple with a superhero t-shirt and go as Sheldon Cooper. This theme is also a great one because it gets everyone chatting about their choices!

Colors – if you really want to keep it simple, you can choose a color family (warm colors, or cool colors) or perhaps just a set that works together elegantly (blue and silver) and use that as your theme. You can also do black and white and one bold color to give it a twist, for example: black, white and red. This kind of theme is great because it can be used for both casual and formal work environments.

Don’t forget birthday cards. Personalized birthday cards make everyone feel special!

Saying Goodbye To A Co-Worker

How do you say goodbye to a co-worker? It’s not an easy task. Especially if you have worked with them, side by side, for many years. It takes a lot of thought and planning on your part. Should you have a party? Do you go to dinner? Or do you just have a little send off with a cake and balloons?

Saying Goodbye

If you are in a big office a large office party may not be the answer. Especially considering that unless it is an executive or someone who you deal with on a daily basis, most people will not know who it is that is leaving. You may want to get the advice of other co-workers and see if they would all prefer to go out for dinner or drinks. If it’s a smaller office and things aren’t too hectic, you may want to have a little office party. This way everyone is able to be there and give their well wishes.

If you have an office with only a few employees, both are acceptable. How about an office party that flows into a dinner farewell? Of course with a smaller office, people tend to bond a little more. So saying goodbye to a co-worker may need some Kleenex. Whether they are moving far away, or just leaving their position. Either way, it’s never easy saying goodbye to a co-worker.


Must Do’s for Business Email Etiquette

Doing business via email has never been easier or more convenient. From laptops, smart phones, or tablets, you can read and send emails pretty much anywhere at any time. Despite how easy it is to send an email, it is extremely important to make sure that you are always presenting yourself in a positive light. When sending business emails, employees, associates, and customers will always appreciate courtesy and respect. These are our “Must Do’s” for proper business email etiquette.

Business Email Etiquette

  1. The Subject Line – Make sure your subject line properly reflects the contents of the email. If the subject is too vague, the email may end up being accidentally ignored. If it is not spelled and cased correctly, it could end up in a Spam box.
  2. The Greeting – Always include a greeting. “Good Morning –“ or “Hi (Insert Name Here)” will open your email with a friendly tone so you do not sound demanding or brusque.
  3. The Message – Keep your emails as concise as you possibly can. It is overwhelming to send huge paragraphs and people may skim over them and miss what you’re really trying to say. Always spell check and read over your email before hitting send. Remember the email is a refection of you and your business.
  4. The Closing – Always  include a closing. As with the greeting, the closing indicates courtesy and keeps you from sounding too terse. Let them know you appreciate that they’ve taken the time to read your email or assist you. “I appreciate your help,” “Thank you,” or “Best regards,” are nice ways to close.
  5. The Signature – Do make sure you always include a signature in your email with your contact information so your recipients have this on hand without having to search for it.

Those are the most basic “Do’s” for composing a great, business appropriate email. Remember to follow similar rules when replying to emails:

  1. Reply in a timely fashion. If you do not have the answer or cannot reply when you receive the email, it is appropriate to reply that you have read the email and will find out what the sender needs to know and reply by (Insert time or date).
  2. Along the same lines, if you are going to be on vacation or unable to check your email for longer than usual, do set up an out of office reply with information on who the sender can contact instead while you are away.

The final “Do” is simply to always remain professional. Use the “Bcc” blind copy option courteously to hide contact info from large groups of recipients, not as a way to talk behind anyone’s back. Be careful of “Reply all” if you do not want everyone reading your responses, but always keep it professional regardless! Happy emailing! And don’t forget – for a birthday, anniversary, or holiday greeting, it’s always best to put down the smartphone and show you care with a physical card. Email is easy and convenient for conducting business, but it really shows effort, respect, and care to take the time to send a card for a special occasion!

Top Tips For Dealing With Annoying Coworkers

Okay. We are human beings. Strange creatures, we, and as such, we all have foibles and idiosyncrasies that you might not realize or notice yourself. These quirks in the workplace could be considered annoying in the eyes of your coworkers. You probably can think of at least one annoying coworker right now. It is just a fact of life and if you haven’t had to deal with annoying coworkers at least once in your work career, than you might be a flying pig.

They come in many shapes and sizes. For example, the gossiper, the loud-talker, the know-it-all, the too-much-information giver, the whiner/complainer just to name a few. All can get under your skin while really affecting your work and productivity. However, there are ways to deal with annoying coworkers.

Annoying Coworker

Be assertive – Chances are, the annoying coworker doesn’t know they are annoying. Be firm, yet friendly and ask the person right out to stop what they are doing that is annoying. Announce that you are really busy and concentrating and would be really nice of them to quiet down or have their personal phone call elsewhere. Better yet, explain to your supervisor/HR department the situation and have them ask to cease and desist. Your supervisor is most likely already aware of it!

Positivity – Sometimes the old adage, “kill it with kindness” still rings true. A warm smile and friendly disposition can smooth over almost any situation no matter how awkward. If Captain Bring-down is bringing you down, stay sunny and counteract it with a positive spin.

Avoid/Ignore – For as long as you can, try to avoid the person as much as humanly possible. Take your lunch at a different time. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Park your car elsewhere. You get the idea. It gets tough when the person is in your direct vicinity like in a “cube-style” office, so best options are to use headphones to tune them out or see if you can look in to a seating arrangement change. Of course there is a breaking point for everyone but hold out as long as you can. If you can get up and walk away from the person for a little while, try that. Hopefully when you return they will have stopped.

Breathe! – If it becomes unbearable and you are about to boil over and burst, don’t! Close your eyes. Relax your muscles and place your hands palm up in your lap. Take a deep breath in through your nose and count to five. Exhale slowly through your mouth (trying not to disturb others) and repeat until you feel a sense of calm and collection. Rinse and repeat until enlightenment is reached or at least until you can continue your work without going insane. A walk outside or around the office grounds is another surefire way to clear your head and give a new perspective to the situation. Some fresh air can do wonders.

Toughen up – To be honest, can it really be that bad? Okay, maybe it is but come on. You only have to work with this person. You don’t have to interact with them in any way shape or form outside of work. They are not your significant other, they are not a family member or loved one… So, deal with it! A thicker skin might do you some good and build some character. Guess what? It’s life! You are not always going to love every single detail of every single facet of your life. The sooner you realize this and keep it in mind, the easier it will be to deal with any person, annoying or not. Remember, the annoyed can also be the annoyee. You might be annoyed by someone but just as easily, you can be annoying someone yourself.