Category Archives: Administrative Support

Working with Teams

Working with Teams

So you’ve been tasked to work in teams. The boss has assigned you together with some other team members to work on a very important milestone project. Because you show the most promising leadership skills and amiability, the boss assigns you to lead this group.  As fate would have it (fate has a wicked sense of humour), you’re pooled in together with the most difficult person in the office. As if introducing himself/herself, this person proceeds to say “I don’t work well in groups. I find that too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth!” You are off to a rocky start indeed. Yikes!

At some point in our careers, we will all find ourselves in this situation. Besides, we don’t have to like each and every one of our co-workers, we just have to have a good working relationship with them in order to accomplish tasks. Looks like you should suck it up and start working with the difficult person. I know this is easier said than done, and people will avoid working with that difficult person if they can – even leaving him/her out if they have to. However, that person is most probably in the company because he or she has a special set of skills that your manager thinks would help you reach your goal.

So what do you do in situations like these?

Keep your cool.

This is the most dispensed advice in any challenging situation. And why not? It reminds you to keep your emotions in check. It forces you to look at things objectively. Showing panic or frustration only makes this “less than ideal” situation worse. So remember to keep your cool.

Keep an open mind.

Practice empathy and compassion. Do you find yourself judging this person based on what you have heard about him/her? Maybe you’ve heard other co-workers say not so good things about him/her. Are these things founded on concrete reasons or are they just hearsay? Because if not, they’re just gossip. Are you fanning the flames by believing them? Give him/her a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Seek it out.

Find the cause of trouble and start troubleshooting from there? What makes this person difficult to work with? Is it attitude? Is it poor work ethics? Do they lack the skills? There are reasons why people are deemed difficult. Most of the time, it’s just differences in perspective and working styles.

Acknowledge.

Do not shy away from responsibility and let the team know that you are working on a solution to make the working environment as conflict free as possible. The difficult person may not even know that other teammates find their behavior unsatisfactory. So, try to get all sides of the story. And if the person acts up, draw attention to the behavior and not the person. You can say “It is a challenge for me when you do the bare minimum on X (task) because I think that you can do better. Can you help me find out what we can do so that you feel more motivated to do X”?
As you can see from the tips above, these are all things that YOU can control. Don’t hand over the reigns to your perception to other people. You can control the narrative. If you can accomplish this, then you’re on your way to having a more manageable team and a smoother work relationship. How do you deal with difficult teammates? Let us know in the comments. As always, remember to stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

The Art of Networking

The Art of Networking

Whether you’re marketing your business, selling products, or promoting your skills and services, networking is one way to get your name known. The key is to build trust and working connections with your contacts. Every social event can be a chance to network if you play your (business) cards right!

Let’s start off with some easy tips:
Have a professional business card
This is not the place to get “gimmicky”. Keep your card face clean and your fonts clear. Stay away from black cards or glossy embossed fonts that wear off over time. Use high-quality stock paper, because your contact might want to write down some details about you on the back of your card. Your business card is part of the first impression you leave. So make sure that your card has all of your important details including:

  • Your company name – as the heading
  • Your name – of course
  • Your title – underneath your name
  • Pertinent Phone numbers – mobile number and direct line (no one wants to call the main office and go through hoops to reach you. So if you have a direct line, put that in the card)
  • Your email address
  • The company’s website

Don’t be a hard seller
The trick is to sell through your contacts, not sell to them. You have to build trust and rapport. Tell them who your are and what you do. Let them understand why you are passionate about your business. Be someone memorable – but for the right reasons. Don’t be someone who comes across as desperate. Remember to keep the conversations light and never go into ‘technicalities”. That is a surefire way to lose your audience.

Have a goal
Have a goal when you go into networking events. Come to events knowing what you want to get out of it. For example:

  1. You want to be known – you want to introduce yourself as a player in the industry or you want to let people know about your product and services.
  2. You want to be informed – you want to learn who the other key players are or what the competition is doing.
  3. You want to be well connected – you want to make contact with the other players in your industry or line of work.

Start close to home
The first “network” you build will always be family and friends. They will always be happy to help spread the word about you and your business. But don’t slack off on professionalism just because these are people you’ve known all your life. Be prepared with your “elevator pitch [1]”. Let them see how your product/business/services can help. They should understand the value of your work and how they are placed to help you in growing your business.

Lastly, remember to be sincere and have fun. Have a strong handshake and don’t forget to make eye contact.

Do you have any networking tips of your own? Let us know in the comments. As always, stay humble and hustle hard!

References:
1 https://www.thebalance.com/writing-effective-elevator-pitch-2951691

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

Going All Google

Going All Google

Are you still using Microsoft Office? Ever dream of breaking away from your reliance on the MS Office Suite? Do you really think you can go “All Google”?

I know, I know…trusty old Microsoft has been our go-to office productivity suite since the beginning of time. Back in the days when the only word processing app was MS Word and we all relied heavily on MS Excel for creating those helpful spreadsheets, there was only one company dominant in this space. I can even remember passing time by playing with MS Paint…yes, Microsoft Paint!

Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft Office is still king. However, times have changed and so have our technical requirements. We have to consider our business needs and how it will scale. The top two priorities when considering tech would be functionality and cost.

One of the biggest challenges that small to medium business owners face is adapting and keeping up with technology. A lot of offices are seriously attached at the hip with Microsoft Office Suite. But when you’re a start-up company or a small business – you can’t always immediately get IT staff on location to install software, fix installation problems, and troubleshoot existing tech. There’s also the problem of hardware – God forbid that your computer breaks down or gets stolen and you have to recover your info, reinstall, and relearn the software that has just been updated for the nth time.

Immediate Access
When you have cloud based productivity tools, you don’t have to worry about the downtime when you’re getting your machine installed or fixed. If or when your computer breaks down – you can immediately start working using another machine without having to wait for the faulty one to get fixed. You simply grab another machine and get back to work, picking up where you left off. You never lose access to your most valuable asset – information – specifically the information stored in your work files. Your documents will not be tied up to a machine, they can be ready in a jiffy from any device, from anywhere.

The pesky cycle of upgrades, patches, and updates.
If you have a different set-up from your co-workers, switching back and forth between different machines could be a huge hassle. If you’re doing this yourself, without the help of an IT professional – it could be a challenge to reinstall software and migrate files. There will be document versions and you have to contend with document incompatibilities. Switching to Google guarantees that you always have the latest version every time you refresh your browser. Plus, you never have to pay for the upgrade.

Still packs a punch.
Sure, Google Apps may not be as robust as the very formidable Microsoft Office Suite – but it’s NO lightweight and Google is still the industry leader in cloud at the moment. If your business isn’t heavy on design, then the basic layout features of Google Docs will do for preparing those reports, creating quotes and proposals, or formatting a price list. If you’re not using any of those advanced features of MS Excel, Google Sheets have a strong set of capabilities to help you with those spreadsheet requirements.

Another strong point and very important feature is collaboration, multiple people can work on the same document at the same time. When you use the desktop version of the MS Office Suite, you have to go back and forth with emails in order to collaborate on one document.

The price difference
Google Apps for Business costs $50 per user – for a whole year. If you want cloud – based convenience from the Microsoft Office Suite, it costs about $198 – that’s the subscription price per month.

This is just one of the options available for small to medium business owners. It’s up to you to decide if going “All Google” is right for your business. As always, stay humble, and hustle hard!

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

Keeping the Communication Lines Open

Keeping the Communication Lines Open

In order to keep your team running like a well-oiled machine, it is very important to keep constant communication. Lack of communication in the workplace leads to less than stellar project outcomes and unproductive hours.

Imagine collaborating on a project where the team members are not available to answer questions or monitor task progress. There will be a lot of waiting…waiting for go signals, waiting for answers, waiting for input, and waiting for contributions from team players. That’s a lot of wasted time and resources that could have otherwise been put to good use. It could also mean missed deadlines and lost clients.

Thankfully, instant messaging and collaborative tools have helped make collaboration and communication easier for teams that work remotely or in different locations. It is just as easy to talk to a co-worker on the same floor or work area, as it is to talk to a co-worker in a different time zone (given, that they’re awake and within their working hours).

 

Here are a few of the best instant messaging services for your team:

Google Hangouts:

Google has everything – an outstanding webmail application, a drive for file storage, and a host of other things that make work life easier. Of course, they would have an instant messaging service. They have quite a few of those, actually. They have Google Hangouts (my favorite), Duo, and Allo. Pick one that you can easily integrate into your work team.

Slack:

Now Slack is a different animal altogether. Like most instant messaging tools, Slack is simple and can be easily integrated into your work teams. You can upload files that show up inline, as well as add links that show up inline as well. All conversations are searchable. And as an added bonus to this already awesome tool, you can create Google Hangouts from within a chat room.

Skype:

Skype is one of the first ever instant messaging tools that have robust functionality. It has stayed as one of the major players in this space for a long time because they keep adding useful features and updates like Skype to Skype calls, call outs to mobile or landline phones, group calls, and more. You can share files, images, and links, hold group meetings (of up to 25 people) or even get your own Skype number.

Zoom:

At the enterprise level, Zoom is a super powered communication and collaboration tool rolled into one. It has the web and video conferencing and lets you hold a host of online meetings. You can use it for one on one meetings, group meetings (up to 50 people), town halls, training, webinars, and even events.

GoToMeeting:

GoToMeeting affords you the convenience of scheduling meetings straight from your Outlook or Google calendar. Aside from that nifty feature, GoToMeeting has HD video conferencing, screen sharing, drawing tools (helpful if you’re giving instructions), and the ability to record meetings (for when you missed taking minutes of the meeting).

 

Ever used any of these tools before? What is your favorite? Let us know in the comments. Stay humble, hustle hard!

 

Written by Jaie O.- The Help

Is it really worth the effort to go paperless?

Is it really worth the effort to go paperless?

 

For years, we’ve been told that going paperless is great for the environment and that the ‘paperless office’ is just around the corner – like a flying car and tech cities. In reality, most businesses are still buried under a mountain of paperwork: invoices, receipts, bills, bank statements correspondence, payslips, drawings, plans, manuals, reports… not to mention a constant stream of forms!  It’s a non-stop avalanche of paper!

 

While it may look cheap, all this paper hides very significant costs. The production and processing of paper documents averaged out to about 27 to 50 cents per sheet.  That includes labor and materials, and does not include the costs of filing and storage.  The cost of finding and retrieving a piece of paper from filing averages around $5! When examined closely, the use of paper demands a lot of labor around organizing and retrieving documents, and re-entry of information. It is the hidden costs associated with that labor that makes paper so expensive.

If you’re consciously trying to make an effort to go paperless, the first thing you should look at is… financial records. That would be receipts, bank statement, invoices, and other transactional and financial documents. That is where the bulk of your paper usage lies.

This is a big issue for all small businesses. For taxation purposes, we need to keep receipts, banks statements, invoices, and other transactional documents for an extended period to comply with tax regulations.   Even if your accounting systems are up-to-date, you still need to be able to produce the paperwork for your Accountants and the Taxation Office.

Technically, you only need to keep digital copies of your financial records: not the paper itself. If you adopt a personal (and professional) policy where all financial records are stored electronically, you gain several benefits: no physical space is taken up in the office; you can share copies of the records with your accountants with a simple mouse-click, you can find information quickly from your keyboard or even phone, rather than digging around in filing cabinets.

Try going paperless as a matter of personal preference. If that works for you, then you can use the principles (with some tweaks) for your business.

Here are some tips:

Get a good, reliable flatbed scanner – you’ll need one that is easy to use but efficient in scanning, converting, and filing your documents. If you can get one that has duplex scanning feature (saves more paper) and wireless options (for greater convenience), that’ll be great – but you can do with just the conventional scanner that has a decent document feeder.

Physical boxes (Inbox and Outbox) – the inbox contains all the necessary documents that you wish to scan while the outbox will contain all the documents that you have already scanned once you’re done filing them into the appropriate digital folders. Remember to dispose of these properly!

Digital/Electronic Filing system – create folders that are appropriately labeled and start scanning and filing all your documents into them. Some examples are: House Documents – contains property docs, mortgage docs, rental receipts, repair receipts, etc.

Lastly, call your service providers and request for an e-bill or electronic bill. I get all my statements and bills sent to me via email. I can also access them online. The bills and statements are conveniently available for download if I ever need to have a physical copy.

 

Going paperless takes some getting used to. But if you can practice this in your home, then you can adopt it on a larger scale for your business. Let me know how your paper purging works out in the comments. Goodluck and remember to stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help