What helped clinch this year’s OfficeTeam Administrative Excellence Award for Deborah Carter? She took the initiative to learn Microsoft Office Suite 2007 before her colleagues, and then she trained them. She also proposed that the company use Skype to conduct interviews with long-distance job candidates, and consolidating mobile phone contracts into a corporate plan, saving her organization time and money.
Perk up your daily emails with MeebleMail (meeblemail.com)—dozens of stylish, customized templates you can integrate into most email software. Some were created by known designers such as Thomas Paul, while others were made by, and return proceeds to, charitable organizations. Cost: $4.99 per design, per year.
Double-check your work. A survey by Accountemps shows that “lack of attention to detail/sloppy work” is the No. 1 pet peeve of CFOs—far more than gossip, missed deadlines or perpetual tardiness.
Could you be high-maintenance without realizing it? How to know when your life’s drama has taken too prominent a role: Your story about your dog’s fleas is worth a 10-minute discussion; you complain for several days about something a relative said; you replay a bad conversation with a vendor with multiple co-workers.
Stay interested and excited about your work by “remembering to be curious,” advises Todd Kashdan, Ph.D., author of Curious? “Treat your workplace like a research lab. Even if you can’t lessen the number of seemingly mindless tasks ... you can explore, experiment and discover what is novel about the assignments.”
Become a “star” by sprucing up your protocol and etiquette skills. “To be a star in this profession,” says Joan Burge of Office Dynamics, “you have to do 100 things well and be a sponge. It is in the knowing of the 100-plus things. Yes, etiquette and protocol are important.”
Stop miscommunications before they start by repeating back your understanding of any assignment, says Alison Green in U.S. News and World Report. For example, you might say, “So it sounds like you’d like me to find a vendor who can get us faster turnaround times, without hiking up costs much, and you need some options by Nov. 1.”
Hang out with interesting professionals who are pulling you into the future. Look at your “portfolio” of acquaintances with that in mind. “We are who we hang out with, we are the company we keep,” says business author Tom Peters.