The Savvy Office Manager

Cal Butera is the editor of Business Management Daily’s Office Manager Today, Manager’s Legal Bulletin, Managing People at Work and Communication Briefings newsletters. He has been with Business Management Daily since 2007 and worked 22 years for midsize daily newspapers as sports writer, news reporter, layout and design editor, copy editor and city editor.

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What manager wouldn’t want a loveable, huggable, truth-spewing, bumbling, incompetent, lazy employee like Homer Simpson? In reality, Homer is in your cubicles, on your shop floor, driving your delivery trucks, waiting on customers, and yes, in the interview room. Want him or not. Homer’s a composite of the personalities of your workforce, and his words are often your employees’ thoughts.

Employees do the darnedest things to impress you. Most times, they do real work. Other times it’s feigned. The trick is to know the difference. Hey, it’s competitive out on that office floor, and workers are looking for promotions and raises, and trying to avoid more work dumped on them. Here are several tactics workers tell me they use to make their bosses and their co-workers believe they’re packed with Evereadys.

OK, all you boss types. Christmas is closing in and it’s time to play Santa Claus. The gifts to your workers are optional, but what’s involved here is the book. The book with all the names of your employees and all that they’ve done all year. You know, who was naughty and who was nice. If you haven’t been making a list and checking it twice, no worries. Here is your guide to making a last-minute register of things employees do (or should do and don’t) and whether it passes muster.
It’s the worst feeling a boss can get: No one takes you seriously. Your employees are running the show and getting away with, well, whatever they want. What’s next? You either fix it or you won’t be a boss much longer. Here are several tactics you can adapt to help you re-establish yourself as the one in charge.
Seek-An-Employee: Which attribute do you have trouble finding?
You’re human. You’re entitled to say some obnoxious things now and then. But keep in mind your employees absorb and weigh your words, and they’ll give you a pass on those annoying expressions for only so long. Spew these dozen phrases at your peril:

When you think about it, your employees can be broken down into seven personality types. Which brings to mind Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Look around those cubicles. Though not as cute and cuddly as forest gnomes, each one of your employees embodies a dwarf type.

Employees need to be recognized if you want them to stay motivated. So an “Employee of the Month” program seems to make sense. You’ll choose monthly heroes, give them a gift card, a designated prime parking spot, and frame their portraits on the lobby wall for all to admire. These are the pistons of your company’s engine. Not so fast. If this thing’s not done right, it can stymie employees’ efforts, drag down morale and incite jealously, suspicion and hard feelings.

Most managers are keenly aware of what keeps employees engaged and happy: flexible schedules, praise and recognition, a relaxed work atmosphere, etc. But just as there are things that you can do to keep the morale high, there are probably things that you are unwittingly doing that drag it down. Here are five surefire ways to demoralize the troops.

They snooze, you lose—if you wake them up. Just recently, the City of Los Angeles agreed to cough up $26 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by garbage truck drivers who said they were illegally banned from using their lunch breaks to catch up on some Z’s. Like sheep hurdling a fence, nearly 1,100 of the city’s sanitation workers joined in on the litigation, according to a Los Angeles Times report. And had the city not settled, the damages could have hit an eye-opening $40 million, a councilman said.

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