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The Savvy Office Manager

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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One of the first things a manager comes to realize is that employees can’t really be changed. Oh, you can steer them a bit with rewards and discipline, but you can never transform them into your dream workers. They either are or they aren’t. For those little irritating idiosyncrasies you’d like to pluck from your workers, all you need is a pair of tweezers and a steady hand ...

Workplace decorum or etiquette—call it what you want—is essential to staying on a successful career path or just being likeable by the people who spend eight hours a day with you. And although your employee handbook is loaded with do’s and don’ts on the issues of legal importance and organizational protocol, there are some things that are too weird to print. These are the gaffes found in every workplace committed by many employees who, well, just don’t get it. And it’s worse when a boss doesn’t get it.

When dealing with millennials, take a tip from Pizza Hut: Don’t focus too much on them as a homogenous group.

Have you ever taken a good look around your workplace? I mean a really critical look, as if you were a highly recruited job candidate deciding if yours is the place you would want to come to every day. The truth is, a shoddy, unkempt, outdated workplace may not only hamper productivity, it’s probably driving away good job candidates as well.

Both of these lovable cartoon characters have characteristics inherent in a lot of the folks who answer your employment ads—or who are on your payroll right now.

Bosses are full of bossisms. You know, a certain way of speaking to your workers that naturally comes to all who enter the gates of management. And whether you’re euphemizing, energizing or just skating by the moment with a threadbare phrase, just be aware that those words you say are going through your employees’ decoders. Here is a list of common bossisms and their interpretations by the rank-and-file.

As Dr. Seuss once famously noted, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” And buried—not so deep—in the pages of his books are some of the simple answers, wisdom and advice that could help you become a better manager and leader:

Seems like there are odds—strange as they are—for just about anything. But what about what you do? What are the odds? Where are the stats? Since you deal with people, and people are inherently unpredictable, it might seem difficult to pin probability on their behavior and idiosyncrasies. But we’re talking about people in a workplace, and as you might guess, patterns begin to form that curiously repeat themselves no matter where you work or who you supervise.

A résumé is a peculiar document. The writer bares his professional soul, fusses over verbs and gerunds, though he’s not sure what gerunds are. You know what you’re looking for when it comes to experience and education. But sometimes you’re fooled.

It doesn’t take much to lose the boss job you thought you could do. Here are six common things managers do that will put an end to their careers.
If your organization has some of these characteristics of a dysfunctional workplace, it’s time to reevaluate how your office operates and make some changes.
Jeff’s phone rings on his desk and the name “Stacey” appears in the little LED window. His boss is brief. “Can you come to my office please?” All his mistakes, shortcomings and Stacey’s warnings swirl in his head. “This is it,” Jeff thinks. His heart lunges, his jaw tightens and the objects in his office that once gave him a sense of purpose and comfort are now surreal and insignificant ...

Isn’t it hard enough gaining respect from your employees without a bunch of recording artists egging them on to disrespect you and the jobs you’ve given them? Next to helping their listeners navigate the choppy waters of love, loneliness and drug usage, these pop stars seem to want them to hate their jobs along with the person supervising them. That would be you. Here are the top 5 songs that put you, dear boss, on your employees’ dart boards.

A boss’s job is not complete without hearing gripes, thoughts and ideas from the rank-and-file. But weigh carefully what you hear.

Does your breakroom coffee taste like it came out of a lumberjack’s Thermos? In case you haven’t tried it lately, ask yourself this: How many employees come to work with their hand wrapped around a $6 Caramel Macchiato—venti? Probably a lot more than the few employees who, with the taste buds of a house fly, emerge from your Café de Kitchenette wiggling a wooden stirrer in a 6-ounce white styro cup. The truth is, your coffee is bad for a lot of little reasons, all of which can be fixed.

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.
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