SnackNation http://www.snacknation.com Healthy Snack Delivery Mon, 27 Mar 2017 04:58:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.4 Office Pranks: The Ultimate Guide to Pranking Your Coworkers (Without Getting Fired) http://www.snacknation.com/blog/office-pranks/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/office-pranks/#respond Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:19:26 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=17596 Whether it's April Fools' Day or just Wednesday, here are 21 hilarious ways to prank your coworkers (without getting fired).

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The Ultimate Guide to Pranking Your Coworkers (Without Getting Fired)

office pranks

I think it’s safe to assume that we all work really hard.

Besides the fact that doing anything worthwhile takes hard work and dedication, the trend has been longer and longer hours for American office workers. According to a 2014 Gallup study, full-time adults work 47 hours each week, almost a full workday longer than the standard 40-hour work week.

Sometimes you need a little office laughter to break up the day and recharge from all the time spent focusing on the serious stuff.

Of course, you don’t want to prank your colleagues with the same, tired pranks.

With this in mind (and with April Fool’s Day coming up), we decided to put together our Ultimate Guide to pranking your colleagues.

We tried to avoid all of the jokes you and your co workers have probably already pulled on each other. These are the best of the best, pranks guaranteed to help you become the king (or queen) of office pranks – without getting fired.

First, a few ground rules.

Most of these are pretty obvious (and we seriously doubt any of you would do any of these things), but it’s worth mentioning that you should avoid doing any of the following:

  • Don’t Destroy Anyone’s Property. That goes for office or personal property. Anything you do should be reversible. Don’t ruin the paint on someone’s car, or break someone’s monitor, or stain their clothing. That’s not a prank, that’s straight up vandalism.
  • Don’t Cause Major Disruptions. The best pranks surprise and delight. They may even cause a minor disruption in the work day – the kind that makes people pop their heads up from their desks and smile (or shake their head). But don’t do anything that would cause a major disruption or otherwise harm your business. We’re talking about things like pulling the fire alarm, unleashing noxious stink bombs, or unplugging your company’s servers (as tempting as that might be).
  • Don’t Cause Bodily Injury. Duh.
  • Don’t Cross the Line. Ever heard of the phrase “hostile work environment?” Well, let’s hope you never do (especially coming from your lawyer or your company’s Head of HR). Use good judgment. We know you’d never do this, but don’t engage in humor that pokes fun at anyone’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual-orientation. That’s never ok in the workplace. Even if your intent isn’t malicious, you can still lose your job and/or put your company at risk. Plus, it’s just not cool.

Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, on to the fun stuff.

 

1. Body Spray Bomb

This one comes from SnackNation Member Success Manager Jessie Montz, the self-described “Queen of the Office Pranksters.”

The idea is to rig up a bottle of body spray underneath the victim’s office chair so that when he sits down, it triggers the bottle to spray.

You’ll need:

Step 1: Adjust the victim’s chair so that the chair gives slightly when someone sits on it.

Step 2: Duct tape the bottle of body spray directly under the seat so that when the chair moves down, it depresses the spray.

Step 3: Use the clothespin to plug your nose. (You don’t want to be smelling that stuff if it heads your way.)

Step 4: Hilarity ensues.

(Note: this one also works with airhorns.)

body-spray-bomb

 

2. Family Photo Swap

Does your co-worker keep a photo of a cherished loved one? Well, it’s about time they appreciated one of the greatest actors of all time, and not their dumb kid or whatever.

Replace family pics with photos of your favorite weirdo celebrity. (This photo of Nicolas Cage from Vampire’s Kiss works particularly well.)

vampires-kiss-nicolas-cage

Speaking of Nic Cage…

 

3. Nicolas Cage-ify Your Coworker’s Browser with nCage

Wish there was a way to update the Nic Cage insanity for the digital age? Well, nCage has already beat you to it.

This handy chrome extension will replace every image on every page with a different photo of – you guessed it – Nicolas Cage.

 

4. Monitor Mayhem

Another favorite of office prankster Jessie Montz, this trick will have your coworkers scratching their heads.

You’ll need:

  • An unlocked computer screen.
  • About 15 seconds and some nimble fingers.

Step 1: When they aren’t looking, sneak onto your victim’s computer.

Step 2: Flip their screen. On a Windows PC, hit control+alt+F1 to activate image rotation. Hold the ctrl and alt keys and use the down arrow to rotate the screen.

On a Mac, go to system preferences and click the “Displays” tab. From there choose 180 degrees on the rotation menu. (Only works with external displays.) Close out of system preferences when you’re done.

monitor-mayhem

Step 3: Return to your desk and try not to crack a smile as your co-worker tries to figure out how to change it back.

 

5. Fake Computer Update

Fakeupdate.net has created realistic looking update animations to make your coworkers think their computer is in the middle of an important, frustratingly slow system update. The kicker? The update will never finish. Status bars inexplicably creep forward and backwards, and when your co-worker inevitably hits the enter key, the blue screen of death or some other hilariously frightening message appears.

fake-computer-update

Step 1: Sneak onto your co-worker’s computer and go to fakeupdate.net.

Step 2: Select their operating system. (Or for maximum confusion, select a Mac OS on a Windows PC or vice versa.)

Step 3: Set browser to fullscreen.

Step 4: Slink away like the dirty trickster you are.

 

6. Hidden Box Trick

You’ll need:

  • 5-6 moving boxes of various sizes, including one large-sized box
  • Packing tape
  • A co-conspirator
  • Patience

Step 1: Put together the boxes with the packing tape and place them in a coworker’s cubicle or office. Make it look as though facilities accidentally set down a bunch of moving boxes in the wrong place.

Step 2: Hide in the largest of the boxes. Have your co-conspirator tape up the box, but cut the tape so that it will be easy to break through.

Step 3: Lie in wait.

Step 4: Listen for your victim to return. As soon as your hear them start to grumble about the moving mix up, jump out of the box and yell “Jumanji!” as loud as you can.

Step 5: Laugh maniacally.

 

7. Hidden Penny Insanity

This next one is less of a prank and more like psychological torture. Here’s Jessie Montz again:

jessie-montz“For the last couple months I have been pulling a prank on my co-worker Brendan. Every so often I place one penny on his desk or under his coffee mug, mouse, etc. Enough that he thinks he is going crazy.”

Props to Jessie for committing to the long game.

hidden-penny

 

8. The Broken Mouse

Here’s a classic and SnackNation favorite that will have your co-workers questioning their sanity yet again.

Step 1: Tape over the sensor on your coworker’s mouse.

Step 2: Watch as your co-worker tries to figure out why they can click, but can’t scroll, no matter how hard they flail their mouse around.

Step 3: Don’t forget a friendly message for when they finally figure it out.

the-broken-mouse

 

9. Forecast Calls for…Packing Peanuts

We’ve all probably seen a version of the “fill your co-worker’s cubicle with packing peanuts” trick, and while it’s pretty good, it’s definitely been done before. Don’t you think it’s time someone elevated this one to new heights.

Go stealth and create a winter wonderland any time of year by filling your co-workers overhead shelves with packing peanuts.

You’ll need:

  • 3 packs (or more) of packing peanuts
  • 1 long strip of cardboard
  • A cubicle desk with overhead cabinets

Step 1: While your co-worker is away, fill his cabinets with packing peanuts. Use the cardboard strip to keep the peanuts in place while you close the cabinet, and slide it out once the cabinet is shut.

Step 2: Important – make a mental note of an item he keeps in the cabinet (a ruler, stapler, or specific book for instance). Pick up any stray packing peanuts so you don’t tip your hand.

Step 3: Once he’s back at his desk, come by and ask for that item from step 2.

Step 4: Point and laugh as packing peanuts rain down on his head.

Step 5: Run away.

 

10. Unwrap this

Some people can’t stand a wrapped gift.

You’ll need:

  • Copious amounts of wrapping paper (Buy at the dollar store to save some cash)

An oldie but a goodie. Give the gift that keeps on frustrating by gift wrapping everything on your colleague’s desk. And by everything we mean everything. Monitor, keyboard, mouse, individual paper clips, personal belongings, desk, office chair, lamp… you get the picture.

Stick to one pattern or color scheme to create a shocking visual display.

wrapping-paper-desk-1

wrapping-paper-desk-2

wrapping-paper-desk-3

 

11. Fake Birthday

Gather around a co-worker’s desk and sing happy birthday. Up the ante by buying balloons and a personalized cake. See if your victim has the heart to tell you that… it’s not actually her birthday. (Works best with that super nice officemate who doesn’t like hurting people’s feelings.)

 

12. Bats!

The key to this one is getting to know your co-workers greatest fear.

Step 1: Find a coworker with a phobia. There’s gotta be someone who’s afraid of bats, snakes, or rats in your office

Step 2: Exploit that fear by filling their office with rubber versions of the one thing they dread the most. (The more realistic the better.)

Step 3: This is definitely one you’ll want to catch on video, so make sure you have your phone handy.

Bonus: your coworker will appreciate the fact that you took the time to learn something personal about them.

Just kidding, they’ll probably hate you forever.

 

13. Sleeping Beauty

Do you have a coworker who just can’t keep their eyes open at certain points of the day? It’s time for a little sleep-shaming.

Step 1: Wait for sleeping beauty to dose off.

Step 2: Gather your teammates. Have as many people as possible pose next to your slumbering officemate. (Make sure you are extra quiet!)

Step 3: Go to your local print shop and have a life size poster printed.

Step 4: Get to work early and hang it in the hallway for all to see.

benefits of napping at work

 

14. Head in a Jar

This epic prank requires a little bit of photo editing skills, but it is well worth it.

You’ll need:

  • A decent camera
  • A color printer that prints legal size paper
  • Lamination machine
  • Yellow food coloring
  • A wide-mouth gallon jar
  • A wig

Step 1: Have someone take 3 photos of your face: one straight on, and two side profiles.

Step 2: Using photoshop, blend the three photos together to make one continuous image. Make sure that it’s hi-res enough to print on 11” x 17” legal paper.

Step 3: Print and laminate your photo.

Step 4: Place the photo in the jar so that it wraps around the edge.

Step 5: Fill with water and add a few drops of the yellow food coloring.

Step 6: Place parts of the wig in the jar so that it looks like realistic hair.

Step 7: Place your finished creation in the company fridge. Watch as people freak out.

 

15. Phantom Paperclip

Here’s a super simple prank that you can pull off using only office supplies.

Step 1: Place a paperclip in the upper left hand corner of the scanning bed of your company’s copier. Make sure you position it so that it’s exactly where you’d place an actual paper clip.

Step 2: Make a sizable amount of copies. (200 will do nicely.)

Step 3: Put the copies back into the printer tray.

Step 4: Watch the confusion on your co-workers’ faces as they try to remove non-existent paper clips.

paper-clips

 

16. TP Spider

Another simple but effective prank.

You’ll need:

A thin-tipped black fountain pen.

Step 1: Go in the bathroom and unroll some of the toilet paper.

Step 2: Draw the outline of a sinister looking black widow spider on the top of the roll. The black outline contrasting against the white paper will catch your victim’s eye and cause a moment of panic.

Step 3: Revel in your wicked ways.

tp-spider

 

17. Bugs in the Lampshade

Similar to “TP Spider,” bugs in the lampshade will make your colleague think they’re being attacked by a horde of creepy crawly insects.

You’ll need:

  • Black construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • A coworker with a desk lamp

Step 1: Using the scissors and paper, cutout silhouettes of the nastiest bugs you can think of – cockroaches, spiders, and centipedes are go-to for this one.

Step 2: Place the cutouts inside the lampshade and fix them with tape. They’ll be invisible until he or she decides to flip on the light.

Step 3: Listen for the screams.

 

18. Desktop Screenshot.

Another simple but effective monitor trick.

Step 1: When your coworker is away, take a screenshot of his or her desktop. Move all desktop folders and files into one new folder and hide that in their documents folder.

Step 2: Replace their current desktop background with the screenshot you just took.

Step 3: Sit back and watch as your coworker tries to figure out why nothing on his computer works.

 

19. Kid’s Desk

Replace your boss’s desk (and everything on it) with the Fisher Price version – we’re talking phone, monitor, keyboard, the works. You can find a lot of this stuff fairly cheap at thrift stores.

kids-desk

(Thanks to Burlington Bytes for this idea)

Bonus points – create company letterhead and/or office memos using crayons.

 

20. Autocorrect Upgrade

Go into your coworkers iPhone and change the autocorrect settings for maximum hilarity.

Have the phone replace common words like “Yes,” “No,” “Cool,” and “Ok” with phrases that have a little more pizzazz.

“Yes” becomes “OH YEAHHHH!”

“No” becomes “Naw, son.”

“Cool” becomes “Righteous, brother!”

“Ok” becomes “BOOMSHAKALAKA!”

 

21. Chewbacca Roar Contest

Step 1: Circulate a flier announcing a fake “Chewbacca Roar Contest” in your neighborhood. The more fliers the better!

Step 2: Put an unsuspecting coworker’s phone number as the “Official Contest Number.”

Step 3: Watch as Chewie calls flood in. Also works with Christopher Walken impressions.

chewbacca

 

If all else fails…

Gorilla suit.

 

What’s the best office prank you’ve ever pulled on a coworker? Let us know in the comments.

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The Office Manager’s Guide to Asking for a Raise and Boosting Your Salary http://www.snacknation.com/blog/office-managers-guide-boosting-salary/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/office-managers-guide-boosting-salary/#respond Tue, 21 Mar 2017 00:04:34 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=17464 We spoke with 5 Rockstar Office Managers to discover how to land a promotion, earn more respect, and get paid more today. Learn how they did it!

The post The Office Manager’s Guide to Asking for a Raise and Boosting Your Salary appeared first on SnackNation.

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The Office Manager’s Guide to Asking for a Raise and Boosting Your Salary

5 Rockstar Office Managers Reveal How to Land a Promotion, Earn More Respect, And Get Paid More Today

“I feel undervalued and unappreciated.”

This is a phrase we’ve heard over and over again after speaking with hundreds of Office Managers, Admins and Assistants over the last several years since launching SnackNation.

We found this fact echoed in our annual State of the Office Manager Report, a first-of-its-kind survey of office managers from across the U.S. According to our survey, we found the average annual compensation for Office Managers is $52,082, with 42% earning salaries in the $25,000 – $50,000 range.

office manager salary average

However, 33% of respondents said that negotiating their own compensation was either a “big challenge” or one of their “top challenges”, making it the highest rated challenge for the upcoming year.

top challenges for office managers 2017

So we were curious…

What tips, strategies, and methods are the top performers in this role doing that others can copy and use for their own benefit?

How can other Office Managers, Admins and Assistants make a couple of small changes that will lead to big results in their careers?

We set out to find the answers.

We spoke with 5 Office Managers (some have other titles, but all perform the duties traditionally held by the “Office Manager”) to learn the “secret sauce” to their success.

Things like how they approached their boss to set up a meeting to discuss compensation, how they prepared for those meetings in order to get what they wanted, how they structure their days to stay organized and better manage their time, and even the tips they use to deal with difficult coworkers.

Each of our case study participants brings a unique background, works in a different company size and environment, has different levels of experience, so the collection of responses will be helpful no matter your circumstance.

Here is a summary of what we learned:

  1. Come prepared with salary data. Use sites like Payscale, Indeed, LInkedIn and recruiters to find out your market rate before you go in to negotiate your pay with your boss.
  2. Keep a very detailed list of everything you do. EVERYTHING. Every person we spoke with brings their long list of their responsibilities into salary negotiations.
  3. Work with as many departments and people as possible. This will give you more skills and will help you advance your career and further strengthen your case in negotiating for more pay.
  4. Anticipate your boss’ needs before he/she does. Your boss will LOVE YOU for this and it will make you indispensable.
  5. Don’t take things personally. This is vital for longevity in the role.
  6. Keep everyone in the office happy. Making everyone happy is one of the hardest parts of the Office Manager/Admin Assistant position, but one of the most important.

Without further ado, let’s meet our 5 Rockstar Office Managers to help you learn how to land a promotion, earn more respect from your boss and coworkers, and start getting paid more.

 

 

chelseywagemaker

Chelsey Wagemaker

Current Role: Office Manager

# of Employees in Office: 35

Length of employment with current company: 2.5 Years

Total years of Office Management/Admin/Assistant experience: 16 years in administrative work, of which 10 years have been focused on office management

Reports to: President

 

Chelsey has a long history of experience and knowledge in the admin and office management field. In fact, out of all the Office Managers I spoke with, Chelsey has the most experience under her belt.

One of the first things we spoke about was how fortunate she felt to work closely with a very important person at the company – the President.

She says that reporting to the President has been a good experience for her:

chelseywagemakerquoteBecause I work closely with [the President] on a day-to-day basis he does see my work, and does know what I do, and at this point after two years he kind of relies on me.

The thought of even approaching your boss to bring up compensation is enough to make most people’s stomach’s churn.

Chelsey knew her boss was busy, so leading up to her annual review, she knew it was the perfect time to make sure he knew that she wanted to discuss her compensation:

chelseywagemakerquoteI asked him “when can we carve out an hour to sit down and have this conversation.” The fortunate thing about having that work anniversary is that you guarantee, if not before, on this day we’re going to carve out time and make this happen.

She admitted that her relationship with the President has made it a lot easier for her to discuss compensation:

chelseywagemakerquoteIt’s a lot more efficient and easy for me to go into him and say that I’m doing good work, so when I ask for a little bit higher compensation he’s not going to haggle with me too much about it because he understands that I’m a value to the company.

At the same time, Chelsey understands that other people in her position don’t always have that direct relationship or level of transparency with the person in charge:

chelseywagemakerquoteIn some cases I know with admins, and with managers even, it’s kind of tough if you don’t report to that head of the company who can see your value.

Nonetheless, there are some important things you can do to approach these meetings with your boss when you want a promotion or to discuss compensation.

Here’s how Chelsey did her homework and made sure she came into her compensation meeting prepared:

chelseywagemakerquoteI actually got a raise in pay my first year at Kennedy. I had a raise and I got a promotion, so I went from Office Administrator to Office Manager.

It was last year I got my pay increased a second time, again, just because I’m supporting more staff members. I’m supporting more people, and I’ve also taken on more responsibility.

I did two things when I went into my review with [our President]. I did a survey online from PayScale and from a few other places of other administrative and management professionals.

I basically gathered up that data and took the average amount of what administrators and management people were getting, and went to him and said, ‘You know, this is kind of the range of what people are getting paid.’ I obviously had incorporated my experience level and also some of the different work I was doing.

I added in what a mid-level HR representative would be getting and I added in what an advanced level office manager or executive assistant would be getting, and just showed him all of those various things.

[Our President] really responds to numbers and to logic, and so knowing that about him helped me as well.

The last part of what Chelsey says there is key. She understood the language her boss spoke, and so she came prepared to talk to him in that language.

But Chelsey didn’t stop there. Next, she took things a step further by listing out (in exhausting detail) the many hats she wears and responsibilities she takes on:

chelseywagemakerquoteThe second part was I brought in my list of tasks and job responsibilities and I said,

“These are all the things that you task me with doing. These are all of the things that I do and I do them all well. And so when I’m asking for it, a raise of more than that, 10% or 12%, which is standard, this is why I’m asking for it.”

I didn’t get any pushback at all. [Our President] said,

“That looks great, that sounds great. We’ll go ahead and make that change for you.”

It was like if I can show you why I’m a valuable asset then hopefully, at least in my case, it was a lot easier.”

Another interesting insight Chelsey brought up during our conversation was how she uses her annual reviews to set the tone for the new responsibilities she is going to take on in the next 6-12 months.

chelseywagemakerquoteSo in my case last year I wanted to take on more HR responsibility, so that when it came time for my annual review I have my HR roles listed on that list of things that I had taken on. At the end of the review this year it was,

“Okay, so now we’ve added these things. What more do you want to do? What more do you want to explore?”

This is year it was a technology aspect and furthering my development in terms of I want to do more with Photoshop, and I want to do more with Adobe Creative Suite.

This also helps with the next review. It becomes “I deserve more money because I’ve learned even more this year.” That helps fuel the ease with which we have to ask for an increase in salary.

 

To finish our conversation, I asked Chelsey a series of rapid fire questions. Here are her answers:

What has been your biggest strength leading to your success in your position?

chelseywagemakerquoteAs an Office Manager, I think the best way of doing things is to find that zen level where you can be personable and not get too stressed. Everybody around you is going to be stressed, and so you have to be that voice of calm and be able to say,

“Yup, I can handle it. Yup, I can take care of it.”

Take people’s problems from them and what they need to do, and you can take over and make sure things get done. A lot of it has to do with being able to set aside whatever else is going on in your brain and say, ‘I can handle what you need, when you need it.

It’s a certain personality type. Managers tend to be the type of people who like having that control, but we also like not necessarily being the one to execute. It’s that behind the scenes role.

It’s also helpful to build up that network of information. I have websites that I consistently go to for travel. I have different places that I can go to get questions answered. I think that’s valuable as well to build up that little network for yourself, to have your own tools to make things easier on you.

What tips and strategies do you use to better manage your time?

chelseywagemakerquoteI think as a new manager is starting out you’ve got to figure out where those priorities are and you’ve got to stick to them as well, and let your team know that those are your priorities.

I actually have a sheet at my desk listing my top 5 priorities. Then it’s just figuring out where people fall.

If they come to me and they say,

“I’ve got this project’, then I can reference the sheet and show what I’m doing today… This is my first priority. You’re going to be somewhere here. I’ll get to you either right this afternoon, end of day, end of week.”

That way they know what’s going on, so nobody’s stressing about things that haven’t been done.

A lot of it for me is just that communication with the team too, so while I’m trying to prioritize they need to know my priorities as well.

How do you minimize interruptions?

chelseywagemakerquoteI’m the office manager, but I’m also front desk reception, so my biggest interruption is usually a phone call. That’s one of the things that you just can’t get away from. The phone is going to ring, you’re going to have to stop whatever it is you’re doing and answer that phone for whoever it needs to go to.

My desk is covered in brightly colored post-it notes, and so if I need to stop what I’m doing I literally just grab a post-it, stick it where it needs to go and answer the phone. It’s an old school technique, but it keeps me on task and knowing where I stopped so that I can jump right back into it.

Those interruptions, they’re just part of a job. The biggest thing is not getting frustrated by them. You take down the information that you need, you get it done. If it’s urgent you get it done as soon as possible and you go back to those tasks at hand.

There’s always going to be work to do. You just take each thing as it comes and prioritize as you need to. The biggest thing too, I think, is just letting everyone get their information out, then you can work through it once they’re not standing in front of you.

What’s been the hardest part of your job and how have you learned to get better in that area?

chelseywagemakerquoteTime management is challenging. Everybody has a rough day, everybody has 14 things that are all top priority at once, and so it still can be a hard juggle.

Right now what I’m doing is I’m helping to manage a construction project downstairs while doing travel for my team, which is 10 people. Things pile up. That time management piece, as great as my system is, it’s still not foolproof.

The only other thing that I’ve had on occasion at previous jobs is that co-worker who just isn’t very friendly and isn’t very easy to work with. I had a couple of people who were just that kind of demanding personality type that assumed that I was their personal assistant rather than everybody’s manager. That got a little challenging too.

You certainly don’t want to cause problems, but at the same time if the person who’s causing the issue for you looks down on you, or they don’t treat you as if you’re on the same level, you need to find someone who they do respect who might be able to have their ear and say,

“Hey. You know, you really should consider being a little more respectful, a little more grateful.”


Summary of Chelsey’s Top Tips:

  1. Use PayScale and other sites that display average salary ranges to see what others in your position are earning. Knowing your numbers will make your conversation with the boss a lot easier.
  2. Leave your review with a clear plan of the new areas you want to contribute and take on responsibility over the next 6-12 months. This will help you in next year’s negotiation because you can point to those things that were discussed and show how you accomplished them.
  3. Be transparent with your list of priorities. That will keep everyone informed of what you’re working on so nobody has to micromanage you.

Free download: Get a PDF version of The 2017 State of The Office Manager Report. We surveyed 402 Office Managers to uncover 10 takeaways you can use to hit your goals and overcome challenges in 2017.

 

 

kelly todd office manager modacto

Kelly Todd

Current Role: Senior Operations Sales Coordinator & Office Manager

# of Employees in Office: 15

Length of employment with current company: 2 years

Total years of Office Management/Admin/Assistant experience: 5 years

Reports to: 3 Principals/Owners of Modacto

 

Kelly started her career as an Executive Assistant for two bosses of a HGTV based television production company. She has felt fortunate to have only ever worked for small startup type companies that are privately owned.

Kelly has advanced quickly throughout her career, going the extra mile to show her employer that she is motivated and driven.

kelly-todd-quoteI did work above and beyond the Executive Assistant role, which is where I started, so I just moved up fast. Giving both of my jobs 100%, and showing my bosses that I’m not only going to work for them, but I’m going to stand out. That has helped me get there faster.

She has loved the wide range of experiences and skills acquired from being in this role.

kelly-todd-quoteI wear so many different hats, and it’s given me a really broad skillset that I can take with me into any other area that I go from here on out in my career.

So I think that being an Executive Assistant will give anyone a really good advantage to getting a broad set of skills, learning a whole bunch of different things about office operations and how a company culture works.

I also think there’s a lot of mastery that one can take when they’re in the position. You’re that go to person. You’re the face of the company. That’s a big responsibility that I definitely don’t take lightly and I’m sure other Office Managers don’t as well.

You’re kind of that first point of communication for outside potential new customers, for people that come visit your business, and you want to put your best foot forward because you’re the impression that the company makes.

So there’s a lot of responsibility that lies on the office manager that might be overlooked by other people because a lot of people think that office managers maybe don’t have that kind of responsibility, but we really do. And we’re really the key into the business and kind of the heart of it all.

Kelly has been very proactive in going outside of her “Office Manager duties” to pursue other avenues of business that spark her interest. This, in turn, has made her even more valuable to her company.

kelly-todd-quoteI have been getting involved in the marketing and the sales side of things. So when we had a Marketing Manager, I just piggybacked off a lot of the work she was doing, and helped her out with anything she needed help with, and that got me exposed to the marketing world.

By the time she left, they didn’t have to hire a new person to do the social media, or be in charge of the blog post creation. I just handled that because I had worked alongside of her and knew how to do it.

Getting involved in inside sales, customer management side of things with my boss of sales, taking over some of those marketing responsibilities, getting more involved in social media, blog post creation, marketing events… Those have all equipped me with even more skill sets to take me on to that next level, and just made the job more interesting because as soon as I master the office management, kind of office operations side for the role, I was ready for more.

I was ready to take on more duties and responsibilities. I didn’t want to sit there and just go to work and be the Office Manager.

For me, I want to put as many arrows in my quiver as I could in that position, take as much as I could, get as much experience, so that would just make me be that much more attractive as an employee.

Going outside of her role to gain more skills has been the key to Kelly’s growth professionally. She believes it’s the main reason why she has been promoted and paid more.

kelly-todd-quoteAs soon as I had the basics of my position mastered, I was hungry for more. And my bosses saw that and they saw that I was capable. You have to not only master the job, but you have to show them that you’re above and beyond the job because they’re not going to give you more responsibility if they don’t trust you with the small responsibilities.

If an Office Manager is showing that he or she wants to get to that next level, they want more responsibility and they want to carve out a path to get there, then more than likely [the company] is going to help you get to that point.

So if you want it, don’t just sit there and wish for it. Do something about it.

If it’s marketing, if it’s sales, and maybe if it isn’t even something that you necessarily have interest in, try it out. You never know, and I think it’s just going to give you more leverage and opportunity.

 

Here are some other nuggets of wisdom Kelley offered during our conversation:

What tips and strategies do you use to better manage your time?

kelly-todd-quoteI’m very much a planner. I kind of just budget my time.

Everything seems insurmountable when you have a list of 20 things to do, but just take that list and divide it in your week.

At the beginning of the week, I always look at the big overview of what I have to do, and yes, sometimes that can be scary. You have a million things to do and there are only five days in the week, but if you budget your time, you realistically sit down and take fifteen minutes to plan out your week, it’s going to help you so much more.

Not only are you going to be able to prioritize what needs to get done earlier in the week versus what can wait until later, you’re going to de-stress yourself. Doing this also makes me look impressive to the bosses.

Give yourself calendar reminders about those things, sticky notes, whatever. Whatever you need to do to break it up and make the week less hectic is the biggest time management tip I can give.

Do you have a rule of thumb for prioritizing your to-do list?

kelly-todd-quoteAnything that needs to go to the bosses or is time sensitive would obviously get pushed to the top. But those little things that you can get done in five minutes, just get that stuff done. Take care of it.

Don’t push it off. Don’t be like ‘okay that will only take five minutes’ because then you’re going to get toward the end of the week and have ten more things, and those little five minute things are going to seem even more annoying, and be even more time consuming and just bog you down in the long run.

So my advice is to definitely take care of the low hanging fruit. Take care of things that are time sensitive to the bosses, and then just kind of prioritize it the best way you see fit, or the way you see working in your calendar and schedule.

What’s been the hardest part of your job and how have you learned to get better in that area?

kelly-todd-quoteMaking everybody happy.

As an Office Manager, bringing that positive attitude every day helps, but you’re never going to make everybody satisfied. People are always going to be complaining. People are always going to be wanting more.

As the Office Manager, unfortunately, we take the brunt of that a lot of the time. But there are ways to cope with that. That positive attitude will help you go far, and make that less miserable.

Usually Office Managers are responsible for all the stuff with all the other employees, like making sure people like the lunch selection, or the venue of the holiday party, etc.

You’re never going to make everybody satisfied, so the sooner you realize that and move past it, you’re going to be happier and more successful in your role.

As a sensitive person myself, that’s definitely the hardest part. You can’t make everybody happy, and people kind of look to you to make them happy, and people will take it out on you if they’re not happy with something…

“Oh I don’t like this snack in the break room. I don’t like this new rule.”

So, you’re going to be the sounding board for a lot of negative energy, but don’t take it personally.

How have you learned to deal with demanding executives?

kelly-todd-quotePaying attention to the details is really going to take you far because these execs demand perfection, and as nice as they can be, they want things to do be done right, and your job as an Office Manager is to make their lives easier.

So if you keep that in mind, you’re going to go far in this role because it’s all about the details and it’s all about managing their calendars precisely and getting things done ahead of them.

If you can stay one step ahead of the boss, like,

“I took care of taking this reservation for you because I see on the calendar that you’re blocked.”

That anticipation and that kind of preparedness over and above them is going to really make you stand out to them and make you the asset than an Office Manager needs to be.

The Office Manager can be the Exec’s best friend, and if they’re thinking one step ahead of them, you’re going to stand out.

Summary of Kelly’s Top Tips:

  1. Getting involved in many departments (sales, marketing, customer service, etc.) will help you create more leverage and opportunity for yourself.
  2. Take time at the beginning of the week to plan the rest of your week. You have a million things to do and there are only five days in the week, but if you budget your time, it’s going to make a big difference.
  3. If you can stay one step ahead of your boss and anticipate their needs, that’s really going to make you stand out in their eyes.

 

 

megan-macfadgen

Megan

Current Role: Senior Administrative Assistant

# of Employees in Office: 50 in office, thousands employed by the company

Length of employment with current company: 5 years

Total years of Office Management/Admin/Assistant experience: 15 years

Reports to: Financial Director

 

I was really excited to talk with Megan, given her many years of experience doing admin work.

She started her career doing office work for a non-profit organization that advocated for human rights for adults with disabilities. Megan was doing office work there, but was then unfortunately involved in a car accident, leaving her unable to continue working on a full-time basis for months. Luckily, she was able to recover and went back in the office full-time.

After that, she started working for a Fortune 50 company as an Administrative Assistant.

Years later, life took her to a life insurance company. She started working in the Applications Department where she would enter applications for life insurance for people on behalf of the company’s agents.

Now she’s been with her current company for 5 years and counting.

She told me that she was promoted last year and I was eager to learn more.

When I asked her how she was able to negotiate a raise, she delved into the details:

megan-macfadgen-quoteI think that was just because I know what I’m worth and I know what other people are paying out there. It was a matter of you pay up or I leave.

First I went to the placement agency that helped me get this particular job. Then I would research on Indeed.com on their salaries for the local New York area. I also went to Payscale.com.

I started because I got connected on LinkedIn. I started receiving a lot of job offers for jobs that paid a lot more. I just brought it up to them. I showed them what people are offering me.

I said, “This is a real thing. Let’s talk about it because unless you want it to be somewhere I’m not being appreciated.”

How did management respond?

megan-macfadgen-quoteI would say that my direct supervisor was very supportive being a women herself. I find it very difficult dealing with the guys.

In the industry that we’re in right now that I’m working in is dominated by men. They just don’t care. They don’t want to hear it. In their opinion they figure they’ll just find somebody else and pay them less.

I asked Megan about additional best practices that she uses to prepare for her yearly reviews:

megan-macfadgen-quote“Write down all your accomplishments that you’ve done and present them in a simple manner and clear to whoever it is that you need to make your argument to.”

 

With her wide breadth of experience, Megan had some great tips and takeaways (including a free downloadable template) for our lightning round:

What has been your biggest strength leading to your success in your position?

megan-macfadgen-quoteHaving an understanding and an empathy for human feelings and understanding that the people that I’m supporting have a tough job. They’re under a lot of stress and I don’t take things personally.

I don’t get snappy and stuff like that. I don’t even notice it.

I’m just able to understand that it’s nothing personal, it’s just “I’m busy right now. I can’t talk right now. I’ve got to do this. I’ve got six thousand other things.”

What tips and strategies do you use to better manage your time?

megan-macfadgen-quoteI have something that I keep on a network that I update.

Whenever somebody sends me an email asking me for something to be done, I’ll put it on that list. I have it set up as the tasks I have.

At the top I have tasks that are on hold. I have recurring tasks, what the status of them are, what the task is, what the status of them are, when the due dates are, who’s responsible, who it needs to be submitted to, and then I have tasks that are in process. Everything is all dated. That’s about it. I just keep updating it and then I have completed. I do that every week.

Every week I make a new sheet so I can go back through old ones.

It’s just a matter of being diligent and updating it. What I also do is I’ll print out the email request with an email and I’ll keep that pile of paper of things to do. Then I’ll compare it to my list to make sure it’s on there and it’s done.

Megan was generous enough to share a template of the Excel Spreadsheet she uses so that we could share it with you. You can download that template here.

 

What’s been the hardest part of your job and how have you learned to get better in that area?

megan-macfadgen-quoteI think the most difficult thing is getting people to get along with each other. Everyone comes to me for everything. I’m like mom.

“I have an issue with this person, what do you think? Why do you think this is?”

I’m like the church pastor.

But I figure if everyone else is happy and content, then everybody else can work together better as a team. We don’t have that conflict.

Right now I support the main breadwinner in our office. I’ve been told I’m the only one that can keep him calm and happy. If he’s happy, everybody else is happy. That makes everybody else’s job easier.

Summary of Megan’s Top Tips:

  1. Keep a detailed list of all you do and are responsible for. Presenting those clearly will help you validate your worth.
  2. Use Indeed, Payscale, and LinkedIn to help guide you in salary negotiations. Knowing what others in your role are making can give you leverage to ask for what’s fair.
  3. Use a copy of Megan’s template to better manage your tasks.

Free download: Get a PDF version of The 2017 State of The Office Manager Report. We surveyed 402 Office Managers to uncover 10 takeaways you can use to hit your goals and overcome challenges in 2017.

Mika

Current Role: Office Manager & Events Coordinator

# of Employees in Office: 75

Length of employment with current company: 3.5 years

Total years of Office Management/Admin/Assistant experience: 3.5 years

Reports to: CEO/Co-Founder

 

Mika had been putting in the work.

She was doing very well in her role and taking on new responsibilities. With her end of year review approaching, she felt like she deserved an increase in pay.

As many people can relate to (especially in larger company sizes), Mika’s company only conducts financial reviews once per year.

So heading into her annual review, Mika wanted to highlight all the new initiatives she had been proactive about:

04f9d83-quoteWhat I want to highlight is changes. For my most recent review, I’ve been more involved and more dedicated to the events part of my role, so I was really trying to highlight all the things that I do as an events person.

Even though I do report directly to the CEO, I do a lot of things on my own. I’m very independent in terms of my roles, so there are a lot of things that I have to tell him what I’m doing.

It was really showing all the Office Manager stuff that I do, but also showing that I’m looking to focus more on the events part of my job. This is all of the events stuff that I do and hopefully they can see it’s a lot more and it does warrant being focused on.”

I asked Mika if she had some additional best practices that she uses to prepare for her yearly reviews.

Here’s what she said:

04f9d83-quoteKeep track of everything you’re doing, even if it’s really small, because, especially in an Office Manager position, those small details that people don’t feel like is a lot of work, really add up.

When you list out all the things that you do every day or every week, then you really get a long list. Sometimes I think seeing those bullet point items is really what helps.

Also, talking about initiatives that you want to take on or programs that you either are trying to do or would want to be able to do if you had more support in that area. So making your boss aware that you have these ideas or you have been working on these ideas and you’re trying to grow towards them.

I feel like that shows a drive, even though you’ve already got this bullet point list of 20,000 other things. You’re showing them 10 other things that could be so amazing that you’re trying to do.

And lastly, being organized and being on top of everything. Never have a reason for them to say,

“This one time, this one thing happened.”

Cover up any stressed-out moments. Learn to make them look perfect.

 

On to the rapid fire round:

What has been your biggest strength leading to your success in your position?

04f9d83-quoteBeing organized and goal-oriented. I think there’s nothing I hate more than a pointless meeting or a meeting that is much longer than it needs to be. I like to think that I run my meetings very effectively.

Running events in general, it’s just very clear that these are deadlines, these are the things that I need, these are who I need to do them, and these are when they need to be done by. There’s no negotiation.

What tips and strategies do you use to better manage your time?

04f9d83-quoteFor big tasks, I’ll do my own version of a bullet journal. I have a page for the week and I put each item on that list. So multiple times throughout the day, I’ll look at that list and go,

“Okay, what can I do right now?”

Then little things pop up in the moment, as most Office Manager-type items tend to do.

Depending on what they are, I’ll either do them right then or the Executive Assistants help me out in that area, so things like ordering snacks or drinks or supplies, that’s usually something I can toss their way if I need to.

How do you minimize interruptions?

04f9d83-quoteWe’re a very open office layout, and I’m the prime, when you walk into the office you see me.

Minimizing interruptions has been a little difficult, but the only way I can make them better is if someone comes up to me and asks me for something, I just have to tell them,

“You have to message this to me or email to me, because I’m not going to remember this.”

It gets them away from me right away, and then it’s something that I know, if they send it through like they’re supposed to, then I’ll have it to get to later.

What’s been the hardest part of your job and how have you learned to get better in that area?

04f9d83-quoteBalancing everything, especially because again, the Office Management things don’t really have a schedule. It’s something that could just come up right now and be needed to be taken care of right away, even though I’m in the middle of something that I’ve been working on for who knows how long.

So it’s just the surprises, and not having someone specific that I can rely on to hand them off to. I don’t always have someone where it’s like,

“Oh, so-and-so can definitely take care of this.”

Sometimes something comes up and either I can give it to the Executive Assistants or I can’t. Hopefully I can.

My solution has been to keep really good lists and writing everything down. Me personally, I find that I’m very analog, so I need to keep physical lists or physical notes. It’s just a lot better for me personally.

Summary of Mika’s Top Tips:

  1. Keep track of everything you’re doing, even the “small stuff”. Those small details that people don’t feel like is a lot of work add up.
  2. Highlight your growth and the things you’ve taken on since your last review. Added responsibility and proactiveness = better pay.
  3. Interruptions are inevitable. If someone comes up to you and asks me for something, try telling them to message or email it to you so you can add it to your to-do list later.

 

selena blanco office manager

Selena Blanco

Current Role: Director of Happiness

# of Employees in Office: 50

Length of employment with current company: 7 months

Total years of Office Management/Admin/Assistant experience: 2.5 years

Reports to: Brand Manager, CEO and COO

 

Selena has an inspiring story in that she was promoted within 3 months of starting at Emazing Group.

I asked how she was able to do that, and this is what she said:

selena-blanco-quoteAt first, I was just handling everyday tasks like making coffee, running errands, picking up a little bit of slack, stuff like that. Now I’m helping out HR, so I help with hiring and paperwork, and I also do some marketing for the iHeartRaves team for social media.

So I have built on a lot more roles, which is getting me a lot more experience in order to grow in this company as well.

I had no HR experience whatsoever, so I really feel that I can take on more tasks, and I’m a fast learner. I really want to be here at this company, and I want to grow here. I’m very positive every day, I leave everything at the door, which I think [the company] saw in me.

It’s really nice that they trust me to handle different situations.

This has been a consistent theme with everyone I spoke with. If you can find ways to expand your role and touch more departments, people take notice and good things start to happen.

selena-blanco-quoteThere’s only one HR person, so instead of hiring on a new one, they just asked if I wanted to go and take on that role, as well.

When asked about advice she would give an Office Manager colleague who is looking for a promotion or ask for a raise, Selena offered some great takeaways:

selena-blanco-quoteCommunication. You need to be honest with them and open. I always say, ‘Closed mouths don’t get fed,’ so if you want a raise, if you think you deserve something, then you need to bring it up.

Your boss probably isn’t up at night thinking about which employees need to be paid more, so it’s usually up to you to be proactive.

 

Here are Selena’s responses to the lightning round questions at the end of our chat:

How do you minimize interruptions?

selena-blanco-quoteWe use a tool here called Basecamp. If people need something desperately, they add to my tasks so people don’t have to swing by my desk and interrupt me.

They put it in my to-do’s, they give me a date for the to-do and they give me what needs to be done. If I have any questions, I will go to them.

What tips and strategies do you use to better manage your time?

I write lists – lists are my best friend. I prioritize on what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how long I think it’ll take. That way, I know I can plan out and make sure it’s not late or I’m not overdue on anything.

I do use my calendar a lot as well. I have alarms to make sure I’m completing things on time and I don’t forget to do them. That’s just how I work.

Do you have a rule of thumb for prioritizing your to-do list?

selena-blanco-quoteWhen I get something from a coworker that says this needs to be done today, I ask them, “Are you sure it must be done today?” If it does, I will get it done. I have little things that obviously can be pushed down, so I do prioritize things that are bigger or more important. I put those at the top of my list, and then I just work down from there.

But sometimes, they think about it and say,

“Well, I would like it to be done today, but, you know, tomorrow’s fine.”

That helps me sort through what’s most important and urgent.

Author’s Note: This simple question that Selena uses is gold. Notice how she puts it back on the person to really think about how urgent the task is. And it usually leads to giving Selena more time to complete the project/task. Brilliant.

What has been your biggest strength leading to your success in your position?

selena-blanco-quoteJust staying positive. Especially having to deal with multiple people, because everyone wants different things.

Everybody expects something different from you. You’ve just got to be positive and make sure you’re asking questions. I think that’s what gets me through the whole day.

How do you deal with so many people in the office at once?

selena-blanco-quoteIf I’m feeling overwhelmed or anything, I usually take a walk outside for a little bit. People don’t mean to be negative or anything, that’s just how they are.

I just don’t let anything get to me. It’s just … go outside, take a walk, and I come back inside and then just get done what needs to get done.

What’s been the hardest part of your job and how have you learned to get better in that area?

selena-blanco-quoteEverybody has different personalities.

When you’re talking with someone or you’re working with someone, you need to adapt to their personality and how they act. I’m trying to get the hang of that. Just because I’ve never worked with so many people before.

At the end of the day, this is a workplace and things need to be done. I’ve learned to take criticism and not let it get to me. It’s a business and they want to make sure things are getting done correctly, and that mistakes aren’t being made, and if they are, that they’re being corrected.

Summary of Selena’s Top Tips:

  1. Closed mouths don’t get fed. Be open and honest about what your goals are and what you want. If you want a raise, if you think you deserve something, then you need to bring it up.
  2. The next time you’re approached with an “urgent” task, try asking that person the question “Are you sure it must be done today?” You might be able to add some time to your deadline.
  3. Stay positive and don’t take things personally. Go for a walk if you need to cool down. Multiple people depend on you so keeping a good attitude will help you in the long run.

Free download: Get a PDF version of The 2017 State of The Office Manager Report. We surveyed 402 Office Managers to uncover 10 takeaways you can use to hit your goals and overcome challenges in 2017.

The post The Office Manager’s Guide to Asking for a Raise and Boosting Your Salary appeared first on SnackNation.

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Why Performance Reviews are Dead (And What to Do Instead) http://www.snacknation.com/blog/performance-reviews/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/performance-reviews/#respond Fri, 10 Mar 2017 23:24:12 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=17430 If the performance review isn’t quite dead at your organization, it should be. Both managers & their direct reports don’t get much out of them. Here’s why.

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Why Performance Reviews are Dead (And What to Do Instead)

man looking at performance reviews on tablet

They tend to sneak up on you like a thief in the night.

If you’re consistently doing a good job, they probably seem like a giant waste of time. If your performance has slipped in a few areas, they probably feel like being sent to the principal’s office.

Either way, chances are your dread them just as much as your team does.

We’re talking, of course, about the annual theater of the absurdity known as the performance review.

The thing is, there’s a growing consensus that performance reviews don’t work. Both managers and their direct reports don’t get much out of them. A 2009 study found that 4 out of 5 employees want to change the performance review system, and some companies, like Adobe, have simply gotten rid of performance reviews altogether.

But most companies still hold them, despite the evidence that performance reviews are a broken system.

We found this fact echoed in our annual State of the Office Manager Report, a first-of-its-kind survey of office managers from across the U.S. When asked how often they received feedback, our respondents most often replied that it was either once a year or not at all (48%).

If the performance review isn’t quite dead at your organization, it should be. Here’s why.

Why Performance Reviews Suck

They’re Focused on the Past

By definition, performance reviews are backward looking. The exercise is predominantly focused on evaluating past achievements and identifying areas of excellence or deficiency.

Why is this such a bad thing? Simple – the skills your team needed yesterday are not necessarily the ones they’ll need tomorrow.

It’s possible – even likely – that the skills that enabled their success in the past are different than ones they’ll need to move your company forward in the future. Likewise, there’s also a chance that their past deficiencies won’t be relevant in the future, so focusing on correcting them will be a wasted effort.

They Feel Like Being Called Into the Principal’s Office

The way they’re done at most companies, annual performance reviews almost always feel like punishment. The purpose of these reviews is invariably to root out areas of weakness, even when you’re doing a good job.

For this reason, performance reviews skew negatively, and can give employees the impression that their many successes are overshadowed by one or two missteps.

man in mask at desk employee review

This disproportionate emphasis on mistakes can lead to an atmosphere where employees are afraid to make them – and that’s a major pitfall.

Mistakes shouldn’t be avoided at all costs. In fact, the opposite is true. Companies with healthy, growth-oriented cultures know that mistakes are opportunities for learning.

Likewise, innovation requires setting goals that are just beyond your reach. These “stretch goals” require your team to make breakthroughs in order to achieve them. Just sticking to the same old “tried and true” methods is a sure recipe for mediocrity.

They Aren’t Prescriptive

The point of a review is to give an assessment of the quality of an individual team member’s performance. Most of the time, the conversation ends there.

But that really isn’t all that helpful, is it?

Figuring out HOW or WHY you underperformed in a given area is usually neglected – it’s just not part of the process. Not only that, employees need a plan for how to get better in the areas that matter, something that reviews just aren’t designed to do.

The Best Possible Outcome is the Status Quo

Performance reviews often feel pointless (and a giant waste of time) for top performers. If your team is consistently hitting all or most of their numbers, their annual review probably feels like a mere formality.

If you’re their manager, you might give you a smile, a shrug, and say, “You’re doing a great job.”

And really, this is the best outcome you can hope for in the performance review system.

In other words, the best case scenario in a performance review is NO FEEDBACK WHATSOEVER.

This means that under the best circumstances, you’ll simply maintain the status quo. But the status quo just isn’t good enough to win anymore.

Ok, so if performance reviews aren’t the answer…what should takes it place?

Growth Plans. Here’s why.

Why Growth Matters

Let’s pause for a second and talk about growth.

If you work at a more established company, you might not think growth is such a big deal. And we get it – it probably seems like all this growth talk applies more to those ten-person startups where employees hoverboard to work and spend half their days snapchatting while playing ping pong and doing iced-coffee keg stands.

ping pong paddle and ball on table in conference room

Here’s the thing though – growth is crucial for everyone, regardless of company size or industry.

All companies (even those big, dominant ones) need to constantly adapt to the lightning fast rate of change in modern business. New technologies, changing markets, and new competitors can (and do) disrupt business as usual.

Companies that win need employees that are nimble, adaptable, and who constantly expand their skillsets.

Time and time again, we’ve seen evidence that the growth of the individual is directly linked to the growth of a company. Companies need to be getting better all the time. And don’t forget, “company” is just another way of saying “people.”

The bottom line? If your people aren’t growing, your business could get left behind.


Companies that win need employees that are nimble, adaptable, & expanding their skillsets.
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Why Growth Plans Rule

Growth Plans Are Forward Looking

Perhaps the most obvious difference is that while performance reviews look backwards to evaluate the past, Growth Plans are all about how to continue to provide future value.

The key difference is that Growth Plans start with desired future outcomes, and work backwards from there. Managers work with their employees to identify objectives that will help make the biggest impact, and determine the steps – and skills – that it will take to get there.

That’s not to say that Growth Plans don’t hold individuals accountable for past performance. Growth Plans have accountability baked in through regular progress check-ins. In fact, they actually provide a higher standard of accountability since check-ins are more frequent.

 

Growth Plans Clarify Goals

Because they start with objectives and track against them, Growth Plans require employees to constantly think about and reevaluate their goals. Doing so helps ensure that an employee’s efforts are always purposefully directed and aligned with essential tasks.

soccer net goal on field

Growth Plans also have the added benefit of flexibility. You can’t expect to nail everything on the first try – goals included. Instead of revisiting goals and performance once a year, Growth Plans ensure that you’re constantly checking in to make sure that the right goals are being pursued.

 

Growth Plans Address Professional AND Personal Growth

Performance reviews are basically limited to your job function. Their intent is to grade your performance in your current role and not much else.

Growth Plans, by contrast, are wider in scope, designed to address your current job performance, career aspirations, and personal development.

Personal goals are just as important. These include goals in areas like family life, creativity, and health and fitness. These can include taking up a new hobby like rock climbing, going on a set number of dinner dates, or finally finishing that screenplay.

What’s more, Growth Plans don’t just focus on the individual’s contribution to the company in her current role, but also take into account where she wants to go in her career. This helps demonstrate that the company has their best interests at heart, and that their advancement is a top concern.

 

Growth Plans Provide A Path to Get There

While performance reviews usually fall short of prescription, Growth Plans are designed to provide the means to achieve your goals.

By means, we don’t just mean specific strategies and tactics. Growth Plans also take into account the skills and habits required to meet your growth objectives. If you don’t have a particular skill set quite yet, Growth Plans help you figure out how to acquire them.

 

Growth is a Fantastic Recruitment and Retention Tool

The absolute last thing you want your employees to feel is that they’re stuck in a dead-end job.

But if you aren’t actively providing both opportunities and tools for development, that’s exactly what your company will feel like – a dead end. Your people need to feel like they’re constantly growing, or they won’t stay.

A growth-oriented culture isn’t just important for current employees. It’s also a fantastic recruiting tool.

Highlighting a culture of growth and development is the perfect way to attract growth-minded employees. And these are the employees who are most likely to be engaged in their work.


A growth-oriented culture is also a fantastic recruiting tool.
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Growth Plans Ask Why

As you’ll see in the example below, Growth Plans require participants to think about the “why” behind their strategies and actions.

Constantly asking “why” forces both manager and employee to think critically about what they’re doing. “Because that’s how we’ve always done it,” is no longer an acceptable answer.

 

How to Launch a Growth Plan at Your Company

Now that you’re armed with the information to convince your company’s leaders to ditch those stodgy performance reviews and replace them with far superior Growth Plans, it’s probably a good time to take a look at exactly what a Growth Plan might look like when deployed at your org.

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to implementing Growth Plans at your company. This sample is based on SnackNation’s IDP (Individual Development Plan) program, the model that we use for all of our awesome, growth-minded team members. You can download a sample IDP here.

individual development plan worksheet

Ideally, you want to start this process in mid-late November, and use December to test some of these strategies and adjust your goals if necessary. Again, you might not nail it the first time out, and if you wait until January to begin the process, you won’t have time to adjust.

1. Pick a Theme

Your theme is a simple, overarching idea that will help ground you and provide a framework for how you approach the year ahead. It should also speak to the main goals you want to achieve.

We make this the first step because it helps align all your goals and activities around a central purpose.

Themes can be just a few words, or a lot longer – it’s up to each individual to come up with something meaningful and inspiring.

In the past, I’ve used “Why not me?” which expressed my desire to break free from my inner critic and make big strides in my work and life.

But it’s not just enough to pick a theme. The employee is also asked to explain why she chose that theme. This exercise helps ensure that her theme (and therefore her goals) track back to some meaningful motivator.

If you have a hard time naming why you chose your theme, then it probably isn’t strong enough.

Here are a few examples of themes and their why:

  • “Creation over consumption.”
    • Learning and consuming knowledge is insightful, but real value comes from the struggle of creating something new. Time to turn those thoughts into action.
  • “Do more with less.”
    • We are all limited by finite resources or constrained by budgets. Those who win see the abundance in life, not the scarcity, and are able to consistently do more with what they have.
  • “Health above all else.”
    • When it comes down to it, you can’t impact anyone else without a solid foundation of mental and physical health for yourself.

 

2. Choose 3 Personal and 3 Professional Goals

The next step is to identify three personal and three professional goals. Make sure they include both short and long term targets.

Goals should be SMART, meaning Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. You don’t want amorphous goals – it should be really obvious if you’ve hit or missed your goals.

arrows in bullseyes

For instance, “get in shape” is not a good goal. “Lose 10 pounds,” “improve my mile-time by 30 seconds,” or “go to the gym 15 times in a month,” are all much better. That’s what we mean by measurable – you either hit these numbers or you don’t.

 

3. Set Target Deadlines

Once you have your goals, break them up into manageable chunks and assign target deadlines for each.

Why deadlines? As the Harvard Business Review pointed out, deadlines are a great way to help you prioritize and actually get things done. Make sure that you space your deadlines out. It can be tempting to think of all of your goals as year-long projects ending at the stroke of midnight December 31st, but that’s a surefire recipe for failure.

Also keep in mind that you can reassess and adjust deadlines throughout the process.

 

4. Audit Strengths & Abilities

Here’s where Growth Plans tend to really stand out from performance reviews.

The first step is to take stock of your skills and abilities. Ask yourself, what are you good at? What activities give you energy? What are you known for on your team? List these out.

It’s important to bring your manager into this conversation, because they might see strengths that you might not recognize. For instance, you manager might know you as someone who is great at teaching and training others on your team, but you might not realize how valuable that is, or even be aware of your acuity in this area.

Next, compare these with the skills needed to achieve your goals. Where do they overlap? What’s missing? Separate the skills you already have versus the ones you need to acquire.

Finally, work with your manager on a plan to pick up these missing skillsets. Maybe there’s a free online course on web development or graphic design, or a sales podcast you can listen to on your commute. The point is, create a plan, set deadlines, and close the skills gap.

 

5. Find Accountability Partners

Select two (ideally) accountability partners other than your manager, one personal and one professional. One should be a colleague at your own company or peer at another, the other should be someone in your personal life, usually a friend or family member.

Set at least one call or meeting per quarter to check-in with each other’s goals. Your accountability partner is there for your support (and vice versa). Even though you’ll be meeting frequently with your manager, it’s important to have someone who knows you on a personal level hold you accountable. You’ll be more likely to speak openly about any difficulties you’re having, and can offer advice and help you adjust.

Remember, don’t just ask for their help with your goals – offer to help hold them accountable for their growth as well.

 

6. Check-in Frequently with Your Manager

Meet on a monthly basis with your manager to track your progress, and adjust goals (and tactics as necessary). If something isn’t quite working, figure out why – it may just be that the goal isn’t as important as you thought it was.

 

Do you agree that performance reviews should go the way of the dinosaurs? What other growth or accountability systems have you tried?

Let us know in the comments below.

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5 Surprising Secrets Of Successful Office Managers – Feb http://www.snacknation.com/blog/2017-state-of-om/ Mon, 06 Mar 2017 19:35:47 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=17335   5 Surprising Secrets Of Successful Office Managers   Sorry […]

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5 Surprising Secrets Of Successful Office Managers

 

Sorry you missed out on our February Webinar!

 

Luckily we’ll be hosting another on: March 21st, 2017

 

Click here to register now!

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More Than Half Of Employees Across The World Struggle With Work-Life Balance http://www.snacknation.com/blog/importance-of-work-life-balance/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/importance-of-work-life-balance/#comments Fri, 03 Mar 2017 21:23:40 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=17302 More Than Half Of Employees Across The World Struggle With […]

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More Than Half Of Employees Across The World Struggle With Work-Life Balance

importance-of-work-life-balance

This is a guest post by Jacob Shriar of OfficeVibe. Take it away, Jacob!

There is a serious issue going on in the workplace.

Employees all over the world are overworked, tired, stressed, unhealthy, and unhappy.

We recently conducted one of the biggest research reports on employee engagement called the “State of Employee Engagement” where we looked at different engagement metrics from thousands of employees in 150+ countries.

In the Wellness metric, we noticed some pretty shocking statistics, like:

  • 60% of employees notice that their job is taking a toll on their personal life.
  • 42% of employees are either constantly sleep-deprived or tend to lack some sleep.
  • 48% of people consider themselves stressed at work.
  • 70% of employees take work home with them to complete.

But in my opinion, the most shocking statistic from the report was that 20% of employees are worried that they might lose their job in the next 3-6 months.

The amount of stress that that must be causing employees all around the world is unhealthy and unproductive.

Think about how much money is wasted each day by companies due to completely fixable issues.

Companies are missing out on a huge opportunity to calm those fears of employees.

What Companies Should Do About It

Companies have a responsibility to help their employees manage their stress and manage their workload.

It’s possible that companies are setting unusually high expectations from their employees.

As an example, according a poll from Gallup, one third of us feel like we are expected to check email outside of work.

This is just wrong.

There are two things that companies need to do right away to fix this issue.

  1. Remove the fear
  2. Set a good example

Companies can remove the fear by communicating more. Remember, there’s no such thing as too much communication.

Tell employees that they should enjoy their time, that ‘s okay to take time off, and that working too hard isn’t healthy.

The way that companies can set a good example is by having the leadership practice good work-life habits.

You might not realize it, but employees are looking to the leadership team as an example, and might feel bad about taking time off if they see that none of the leaders are doing so.

If leaders are overworking themselves, then it must be expected for employees to overwork themselves too.

An important lesson for leaders is that even though you work hard to create a culture in your company, leadership behaviors are just as important.

What You Should Do About It

Work-life integration is the key.

You need to be able to manage your work around your life, not your life around your work. If you can blend the two successfully, you’ll be much happier and more productive.

Much of the reason why we have so much trouble balancing work and life is rooted in fear.

If you can learn to let go of that fear, you’ll have a much easier time blending the two together in a smooth, stress-free way.

According to a survey released by WorkplaceTrends.com, there is a serious disconnect between what managers think and what employees think.

They found that 67% of employers feel workers have work-life balance, but 45% of employees disagree. Employees in the survey felt like they didn’t have enough time during the week for personal time.

“One in five employees surveyed spent over 20 hours working outside of the office on their personal time per week”

The key is to enjoy what you do and work hard to remove stress from your life. The stress caused from your job is likely the reason for that imbalance.

Here are a few simple, actionable tips you can use to reduce stress from your life.

1. Practice Relaxation Techniques

meditation in the office

This is an obvious tip, but a powerful one that’s easier said than done.

Taking time during the day to relax or meditate can help you lower your stress levels and make your work more enjoyable.

There are a few good ideas for you to do, like:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Yoga

And none of these things require a lot of time. All that matters is that you do them for a few minutes during your day consistently. Over time, you’ll be able to handle stress much better.

2. Exercise

ExerciseHUMAN

The benefits of exercise are just unbelievable.

It benefits almost every aspect of your life, and is what’s known as a “keystone habit”, meaning that it leads to other good habits in your life. When you exercise, you’re more likely to eat better, and more likely to have more energy, and it leads to an all around better life.

In terms of stress, regular exercise has been shown to lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in your body.

3. Eat Well And Drink Lots Of Water

blueberries - superfoods to increase productivity

Studies have shown that limiting your caloric intake, or not eating enough, raises cortisol levels in your body.

Staying hydrated is also important for managing your stress levels, and is also good for your general health and productivity.

Most people don’t eat enough during the day because they’re too busy (rushing out the door without breakfast), but it’s important to fuel your body.

4. Chat With Your Coworkers

Taskworld board game marathon

Having friends at work, or more importantly, social support, is important for lowering your stress levels.

Studies show that the more social support a person has, the lower their stress hormone will be.

Take some time during the day to chat with your coworkers and build friendships with them. Those friendships will help you enjoy your work more.

 

What Do You Do To Manage Stress And Work-Life Balance?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Here’s What Happens When Employee Appreciation Day Goes Wrong http://www.snacknation.com/blog/employee-appreciation-day-gone-wrong/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/employee-appreciation-day-gone-wrong/#respond Fri, 03 Mar 2017 01:22:28 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=17281 Your employees work hard for you. This employee appreciation day, don't make these mistakes.

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Here’s What Happens When Employee Appreciation Day Goes Wrong

 

Employee Appreciation is serious stuff: an Accenture study found that a lack of recognition was the number one reason people leave their jobs. Just last week, Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Worker Report found that U.S. workers are “increasingly confident and ready to leave,” making employee appreciation more important than ever.

While most leaders and managers are thinking about ways to praise and appreciate their hard working team members for Employee Appreciation Day, we thought it would be fun to show what happens when employee appreciation goes wrong.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Here are 17 Quick Ways to Improve Communication in the Workplace http://www.snacknation.com/blog/improve-communication-in-the-workplace/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/improve-communication-in-the-workplace/#comments Tue, 28 Feb 2017 02:21:00 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=16923 Here are 17 quick and easy tips to improve communication in the workplace, organized by level to help you find the right solution for your problem.

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Here are 17 Quick Ways to Improve Communication in the Workplace

improve communication in the workplace

Denise had thought of everything.

Her architecture firm was on the verge of landing a big new client, and she was in charge of making sure that their RFP meeting would dazzle them. She was having the proposal printed and bound, had ordered a custom welcome sign, and was even having the meeting catered by the prospective client’s favorite local restaurant.

Everything was set for Thursday.

There was just one problem – no one told Denise that the meeting had been moved up to Tuesday.

On the big day, Denise was caught off guard. The proposal was hastily printed on the company’s black and white printer after the client had arrived, and the meeting failed to impress. Ultimately the business went to another firm.

What went wrong? Along the way, Denise was accidentally looped out of an email chain with 30 other people on it. Despite her best intentions and all her hard work, she (and her firm), never had a chance, all because of a breakdown in workplace communication.

As the above example demonstrates, imprecise workplace communication can have dire consequences.

Workplace communication is particularly challenging because there’s no aspect of your company that it doesn’t touch.

It’s a problem to be solved at every level – from the peer-to-peer level, to the manager-direct report level, all the way up to to the department and all-company level. Each of these levels has different dynamics with its own unique challenges, and they only become more difficult as your company grows.

So here are our tried and true tips to address these challenges head on and elevate your workplace communication to new heights. We’ve organized them by level to help you find the right solution for the problem you’re facing.

Peer-to-Peer
Manager-Direct Report
Department
All Company

 

Peer-to-Peer

1. Launch a Buddy System

friendships

Last year at SnackNation, we launched a buddy program for new hires, and it did wonders for our internal communication.

The program went like this – every new SnackNation team member was assigned a buddy from a different department to help them with the onboarding process, answer any questions they might have, and serve as a personal and professional resource. The idea was to help acclimate new hires with the company culture and provide them with support from someone other than their manager.

One of the unexpected benefits benefits we found was that it increased cross-departmental communication. The bonds forged in the buddy process tended to last well beyond the onboarding period, and buddies were able to surface needs and develop ways to collaborate on projects across departments in ways we hadn’t seen before.

2. Hold Inter-Departmental Lunches

Inter-departmental lunches are a fantastic way to get individuals from different teams and departments talking.

In addition to the connection that result from learning about one another’s personal stories, interests, and goals, these lunches are also a way to foster collaboration between departments.

Departments often face problems that seem insurmountable, but only because they don’t have the necessary toolkit to solve them. Meanwhile, the expertise they need might be sitting right down the hall.

Take customer service and marketing, for instance. At most companies, these departments don’t interact much at all – in fact, individuals on those teams might not even know what the other does all day.

youearned it team lunch

In reality, these departments are inextricably linked. Viewed from a high level, both marketing and customer service touch the exact same customer experience – they’re merely different stops on the same journey.

There may be ways that marketing can strengthen the end-user experience by creating educational materials, or that customer service can help marketing better articulate your product’s value proposition.

But they’ll never figure this out until you get these departments interacting. So hire a taco truck and spend one afternoon per quarter bringing people from different sides of the house together. You never know what they’ll come up with.

3. Go Offsite for Team Building

TeamPhoto-5

Besides being tons of fun, team building exercises can improve communications between individuals. A day spent off site doing something other than work will help your employees break down the barriers that prevent communication from connecting and communicating.

One of the best ways to strengthen the bonds of your team is through fitness activities. Whether it’s a push up challenge or daily bootcamp, you can kill two birds with one stone, strengthening team bonding and communication while creating a healthier, more productive staff in the process.

Team building occasionally gets a bad rap, but the truth of the matter is, team building doesn’t have to be lame! Check out our list of 39 insanely fun team building ideas. (Trust falls not included.)

 

Manager-Direct Report

4. Gauge Employee Sentiment with 15five

You can’t solve a problem without first knowing what that problem is, and the best way to find out what is and isn’t working for your team is by asking them.

15five is one of our favorite solutions for gauging employee sentiment, particularly between managers and their direct reports. Their software makes it incredibly easy to survey your organization and gauge employee sentiment about anything and everything.

15five-report communication survey

15five was developed around the idea that a simple report that takes just 15 minutes for an employee to fill out and five minutes for a manager to read will have an outsized impact on the overall satisfaction of your workforce. Their platform makes it super simple to integrate this practice into your company’s weekly routine.

In addition to general feedback, be sure to ask qualitative questions about how direct reports feel about internal communications – do your employees feel in the know? Do they feel like leadership makes a point to keep them looped in? What about the tone of the communication? Is it robotic, or does it convey excitement? Is it consistent with your culture? Your brand?

5. Make Sure Your Employees are Always the First to Know

One of the worst mistakes a company can make is to neglect to tell their own employees about big company news first.

It’s a more common problem than you might think. Most of the time, big announcements come from the company’s communications department. Many of these teams are so externally focused that they notify press before their own employees.

Additionally, communications pros might be worried about leaks (accidental or otherwise) breaking the embargoes they’ve worked so hard to secure, and so being secretive might seem like good practice.

But the last thing you want is for your employees to learn about a strategic shift, a merger, or a major shakeup from a blogger. When employees read news about their own companies on blogs or news sites before they hear it from their employer, it signals that the company either doesn’t care to keep them informed or doesn’t trust them with sensitive information.

This should be a hard and fast rule – don’t let employees learn about any major announcements from anyone but you. At the very least, you can time internal announcements to coincide with external ones so that employees feel looped in.

6. Skip Level-Meetings

We’ve argued many times about the importance of middle managers – after all, they’re the direct line to the C-suite, and are the ones in the trenches actually executing all those high level strategies dreamed up in corner offices.

As important as middle management is, they tend to act as a filter between employees and leaders, and every so often, it’s good to remove this filter from the equation to ensure nothing is lost in translation, or to surface any suggestions that employees might hesitate to share with their direct managers.

That’s exactly what skip-level meetings are designed to do.

In a skip-level meeting, an employee meets with her boss’s boss. The advantage is that the employee has direct access to the leader’s point of view, one that is likely much more strategic and focused on the long term rather than the day-to-day.

This will help her make more strategic decisions in her day-to-day role. Likewise, the leader gets an unfiltered look at what is and isn’t working on the execution level.

 

Department

7. Celebrate Wins

One of the biggest mistakes we see companies make is to only reach out when things go wrong, and to take success as a given.

So celebrate your team’s achievements.

Create a monthly award for stellar performance, and announce it at your next all-hands it in your company newsletter. Make sure to surface the people who consistently do the right things and turn in amazing work so that they know that you don’t take them for granted.

8. Break Your Email Addiction

One of the biggest communications challenges workplaces face is a reliance on email.

Why is email a problem?

For starters, email creates information silos. While not entirely one-to-one, email by design limits communication to the number of people in the “to” or “cc” lines.

How many times have you found yourself “looping in” colleagues to a needlessly long and convoluted email chain, only to have to reiterate the same information two or three times. All this tends to inhibit transparency and keep information locked in departmental buckets.

Despite the growing consensus that too much emailing is bad practice, email is still the norm for the majority of workplace communication. This was echoed in our recent State of the Office Manager report (a first of its kind survey of hundreds of office managers from around the U.S.) 71% of respondents stated that email was still their preferred method of communication.

One way to break away from email is with Slack, the ubiquitous messaging app for tech startups and other equally hip companies around the globe. With Slack, company’s have been able to reduce email traffic by nearly half, as well as bring down the amount of time spent in meetings.

slack_-_snacknation

Unlike email, Slack was designed with transparency in mind. Users create channels where they can discuss topics that anyone in the company can see. If you’re added to a project in the later stages, you can view and search conversations to quickly get up to speed on the status of all the various moving parts.

And with highly customizable notification preferences, you can sent Slack so that it won’t distract you during your highest periods of productivity.

Slack is highly intuitive, but it does take some time to master. Check out Fast Company’s list of “Slack Hacks” for some pro-level tips.

9. Put Phones Away in Meetings

smartphone-iphone-desk

Sure it can be tempting, but when you sit down for a meeting, make sure your phone isn’t within arm’s length.

Nothing says “I have utter disdain for everyone in this room” more than checking your phone during meetings.

Putting your phone face down – or better yet, in your briefcase or bag – will help ensure that you’re more fully present in face to face interactions. This in turn will help you get more out of these meetings, and strengthen your relationship with your colleagues.

10. Deploy Project Management Tools

Speaking of email, one of the biggest mistakes companies mistake is relying on general communications channels when a more purpose-built solution is needed.

Consider an engineering or product development team, for whom deadlines and status updates need to be tracked in a consistent, effective manner. For these teams, even Slack usually isn’t enough.

Luckily there are tons of great project management tools out there. Basecamp, Trello, or Jira, are some of the most well-known and beloved.

11. Make it Personal

Authenticity is key in workplace communications. As we already seen, getting to the truth is so important when it comes to hitting your business goals, and you can’t do that without authentic communications.

One of the best ways to establish authenticity is to encourage vulnerability.

One tactic we use is to start staff meetings with a vulnerability exercise. Before our weekly leadership meetings, participants are asked to share something personal with the group. The meeting leader comes prepared with a prompt, and everyone weighs in.

Here are a few topics to get the vulnerability started at your next meeting:

  • Share the greatest lesson you’ve learned from either of your parents.
  • Name your greatest personal challenge and how you overcame it.
  • Name your greatest fear in life.
  • Name the number one thing you’re struggling with today.
  • Name your proudest achievement.
  • Name the most influential person in your life who isn’t related to you.

Shared vulnerability will help break down barriers and establish trust, and allow you to speak more openly with your team. Vulnerability is also essential when it comes to voicing dissent – which is so important to getting to the heart of the issues that matter most to your business.

 

All Company

12. Hold Office Hours

Borrow a page from the playbook of your favorite college professor and encourage your leadership team to hold regular office hours.

It doesn’t have to be much – just one or two sessions per month will suffice – but making your senior leaders available can do wonders for workplace communication.

amazing managers

The beauty of this tactics is that the benefits go both ways.

Your team will appreciate the access and will feel cared for and that their opinion matters. Meanwhile, your leadership will hear a point of view they otherwise might not have ever considered.

13. Suggestion Box

While it might not seem a little old-fashioned, don’t count out the old-school suggestion box.

Whether you opt for a physical or digital version, this tried and true tactic has one major advantage – anonymity. When employees can comment anonymously, they’re much more willing to tell leadership the truth about the issues that matter.

If installing an actual lockbox doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of digital versions to choose from. Google Forms and Survey Monkey are both excellent ways to solicit feedback while preserving anonymity – or try Free Suggestion Box (the name says it all).

free-suggestion-box

Of course, in order for this to work, leadership must address the suggestions they get, either in all-hands meetings or other company-wide communications. If employees feel like the suggestion box is a black hole, it might hurt more than help.

14. Hold Regular All-Hands Meetings

Speaking of … the all-hands meeting is one of the best ways to create a shared sense of mission and purpose for your company, as well as celebrate victories and allow employees from different departments to bond.

At SnackNation we hold two all-hands every week at our HQ in Culver City.

Mondays are a weekly kick off with announcements from our awesome Vibe Manager Liza, as well as new hire introductions, and updates on monthly goals and metrics. Thursdays are our weekly Sensei Session, which features personal and professional development presentations led both by leadership and employees.

sean-presentation

Admittedly, this level of frequency might not be practical for everyone.

If you’re a larger company, shoot for an all-hands meeting at least once a quarter. Often, these all-hands are the only time the entire company is able to interact on a face-to-face level, or have the opportunity to ask questions to their CEO, so you’ll want use them to roll out new quarterly goals and update your team on progress and achievements.

15. Q&A

Q&As are another great way to solicit feedback and demonstrate a commitment to transparency.

We hold open Q&As once a month at our all-hands meetings. Employees are asked to submit questions ahead of time, or can ask them in person during the meeting. Nothing is off limits, and our leaders make an effort to be as open as possible.

16. Break Down the (Cubicle) Walls

There’s a lot you can do to encourage better communication just in the design of your office.

Open office layouts, for example, have some major advantages when it comes to communications, including making it easier for employees to interact on a face-to-face level.

open-office

When employees are in offices or closed cubicles, they are much less likely to meet in person, and more likely to shoot off emails (which, as we’ve seen, has it’s drawbacks).

So if you want to encourage more in-person communication (and you should), go ahead and break down those walls.

17. Collaborate in the Cloud

One thing that can hurt communication is access. Your team needs easy access to crucial documents.

One thing you can do is store your most important documents – like company guidelines, important templates, or goals sheets – live in the cloud so that anyone can access them. Google Drive, DropBox, or your company’s shared drive are great ways to keep these sorts of docs at your team’s fingertips.

BONUS – Don’t Forget Remote Employees!

Finally, there’s a good chance that a portion of your workforce doesn’t work at your company’s headquarters.

Do you have a warehouse that’s offsite? A satellite engineering office in another city, or even another country? A handful of remote employees working from home? An outside sales crew that doesn’t come into the office?

It can be easy to forget that everything we’ve discussed to this point applies to them as well. Your remote employees should feel just as cared for, included, and in the know as your employees at HQ.

So at your all-hands meeting, make sure there’s a live video or audio feed for them to follow. If you do a Q&A, take questions from the people watching remotely. And fly your employees in, at least once a year. Despite all the amazing communications tools available today, nothing quite beats face-to-face interaction.

Conclusion

As you can see, there’s more to workplace communication than meets the eye. Emotions, business objectives, tools and logistics all converge, and it can sometimes seem like there are too many moving parts to really nail down your comms strategy.

The best advice is to remember to put yourself in your employee’s shoes and try to see things from their point of view. If you do that, the right decisions will be obvious.

What are some tactics you use to improve communication at your workplace? Let us know in the comments below.

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Meet The Pets of SnackNation http://www.snacknation.com/blog/pets-of-snacknation/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/pets-of-snacknation/#respond Wed, 22 Feb 2017 00:27:02 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=16858 Want a more collaborative, productive, & growth-oriented company? Try injecting a little love and compassion into your culture. Here are 5 ways to do that.

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Meet The Pets of SnackNation

We’ve loved having a pet-friendly office at SnackNation and the benefits have been great. Here are some of our office pets (and their owners). Enjoy!

 

 

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SnackNation Named Top Company Culture In America by Entreprenuer Magazine http://www.snacknation.com/blog/top-company-culture-entrepreneur-magazine/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/top-company-culture-entrepreneur-magazine/#respond Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:00:38 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=17185 LOS ANGELES, Calif., Tuesday, February 21, 2017 — Not to toot our own horn but... Entrepreneur Media just named SnackNation one of the TOP company cultures in America! We don't just talk the talk, we walk the walk!

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SNACKNATION NAMED TOP COMPANY CULTURE IN AMERICA

February 21, 2017

LOS ANGELES, Calif., Tuesday, February 21, 2017 — Not to toot our own horn but… Entrepreneur Media just named SnackNation one of the TOP company cultures in America! We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk! 

To view the list, visit https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/289223.

About SnackNation

SnackNation is a healthy office snack delivery service that makes healthy snacking fun, life more productive, and workplaces awesome. SnackNation delivers a constantly-evolving, curated mix of the tastiest, healthiest, and most innovative natural snacks – all from the best of the best brands on the market today – so that you don’t have to lift a finger, waste time, or deal with any of the hassle. SnackNation is a division of H.U.M.A.N. (Helping Unite Mankind and Nutrition), America’s premier healthy foods distribution platform. Through customized micro markets, snack delivery services, and healthy vending machines, HUMAN optimizes workplace engagement and delivers on its vision “to make healthy food more convenient than junk food.” For more information or to try a free sample box, visit www.SnackNation.com.

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48 Awesome Resources for Creating a Workplace Culture People Love http://www.snacknation.com/blog/workplace-culture/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/workplace-culture/#respond Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:06:08 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=6418 A strong workplace culture is what keeps your team motivated, engaged & loyal. This guide (and infographic) will help you create a culture people love.

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48 Awesome Resources for Creating a Workplace Culture People Love

Improving workplace culture is a thorny issue for most business leaders.

It’s something that they probably know is important, but can’t quite get a handle on. Finance, strategy, product development, operations – those are the tangible, measurable elements of their business.

But Culture? That’s the definition of the “soft stuff,” the stuff they probably skimmed over in business school, the stuff that makes their eyes glaze over whenever speakers bring it up at conferences.

However, more and more leaders are learning it’s no coincidence that the biggest, best, and most innovative companies also happen to have great cultures. In fact, so often these companies are great precisely because they have phenomenal workplace cultures.

Here’s why:

Here's Why Workplace Culture Is More Important Than You Think
64%
of all employees do not feel they have a strong work culture
A survey of more than 1400 North American CEOs and CFOs found that

More than

90%

Said that culture was important at their firms

92%

Said they have believed improving their firm’s corporate culture would improve the value of the company

More than

50%

said corporate culture influences productivity, creativity, profitability, firm value and growth rates

Only

15%

said their firm’s corporate culture was where it needed to be

Peers and
camaraderie are the

#1 Reason

why employees go
the extra mile (not money)

Cost of Disengaged Workers

37%

higher absenteeism

49%

more workplace accidents

60%

more errors and defects

Companies with low employee engagement scores experience

18%

lower productivity

16%

lower profitability

37%

lower job growth

65%

lower share price over time

Businesses with highly engaged employees received

100% more

job applications

Workplace stress leads to an increase of almost

50% in voluntary turnover

$500 billion

siphoned off from the US
economy because of
workplace stress

The cost of replacing
a single employee

20% of their salary

 

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While most business leaders probably know a good company culture when they see one, defining what it means to have a good culture is a bigger challenge. Actually developing a strategy for creating one is a different story altogether.

Culture isn’t a one-size fits all solution. Workplace cultures take many forms, and can mean different things to different organizations. They also evolve over time as businesses change or as they grow.

That being said, company culture certainly doesn’t happen by accident. Culture is a deliberate practice, and there are clear, actionable steps you can take to guide the direction of your company’s culture in a way that benefits your employees, customers, and shareholders.

In fact, that’s what inspired us to put together this ultimate guide — you can (and should!) influence your company’s culture to fit the needs of your business. And we’re here to help you do it.

Luckily for you, we’ve already done most of the legwork for you. In the following guide, we’ve compiled the best, most actionable tips from the smartest companies with the best, most innovative cultures so you can take their learnings and apply it to your business.

Consider this is your one stop shop to learn how to improve your workplace culture and help your business go from good, to great, to awesome. Click the chapter links below to jump to your desired chapter.

Chapter 1 | How a Strong Culture Will Boost Your Bottom Line
Chapter 2 | Hire Smart and Fill the Ranks with Cultural Fits
Chapter 3 | Incorporate Wellness Initiatives to Maximize Morale and Productivity
Chapter 4 | Strong Leaders Equal Strong Cultures
Chapter 5 | Foster Loyalty & Trust Through Authentic Communication
Chapter 6 | Slash Turnover by Creating Opportunities for Growth and Development
Chapter 7 | Employee Engagement
Chapter 8 | Case Studies, Strategy Tips, and Stellar Cultures in Action

 

Strong culture boost bottom line

Chapter 1: How a Strong Culture Will Boost Your Bottom Line

In functional terms, your company’s culture is the sum total of the beliefs and behaviors that guide interactions between employees and other key stakeholders. It manifests in observable things like hours, dress code, benefits, workspace, turnover, hiring, and customer care and satisfaction.

But culture is also something less tangible – it’s a feeling or a vibe, the energy people bring in each day, the language they use, the mindset they adopt, and the methods they use to solve problems.

There’s a strong business case behind developing a vibrant, healthy, and productive culture, as it affects everything from the overall health and quality of life of your employees, to retention and hiring, to your company’s product, brand, and customer service – and therefore, your profits.

Here are some of the best resources for understanding culture and why it’s important.

 

hire culture fits

Chapter 2: Hire Smart and Fill the Ranks with Cultural Fits

The smartest companies know that developing a culture that supports their business goals starts far before their employees set foot in the office. In fact, it starts before their employees are their employees – during the hiring process.

One of the most effective ways to ensure that your culture is purposeful and strategic is to weigh cultural fit in the hiring process; the companies with the best cultures (like Zappos and Google) weigh cultural factors equally with skills, experience, and performance history. That way you’ll staff your organization with good fits from the beginning, and be more likely to increase productivity and reduce turnover.

 

promote wellness initiatives

Chapter 3 – Incorporate Wellness Initiatives to Maximize Morale and Productivity

Studies show that wellness has a direct correlation with things like turnover, morale, and productivity, and therefore must be considered when cultivating a stellar workplace culture. The key isn’t to offer one-off perks, but to develop a holistic wellness culture that focuses on both the mind and body, and incorporates fun and a little friendly competition. Nutrition should also always be top of mind when thinking about wellness, and providing access to healthy snacks is an easy way to achieve this.

 

leaders

Chapter 4 – Strong Leaders Equal Strong Cultures

Culture starts from the top. A strong culture requires strong leadership, and leaders and managers who are accountable, transparent, and lead by example. Today’s workforce can sniff out authenticity a mile away, so it’s imperative that organizational leaders do what they say and say what they do.

 

authentic communication

Chapter 5 – Foster Loyalty & Trust Through Authentic Communication

Authentic, timely, and consistent internal communication should be a cornerstone of every workplace culture. Besides the functional necessity of internal communication (i.e., employees need access to timely, relevant information to do their jobs), there’s an emotional factor as well. When transparency is high, employees feel like their bosses and their companies care about them. They feel included and “in the loop.” When transparency is low, mistrust runs rampant.

Lack of proper internal communication can make your workplace culture go from good to toxic in the blink of an eye. And like most of the elements of workplace culture, internal communication doesn’t happen by accident. It has to be programatic, and executed on a frequent and consistent basis.

 

foster growth and development

Chapter 6 – Slash Turnover by Creating Opportunities for Growth and Development

How many times have you heard this an answer to the question, why did you leave your current job?

“I wasn’t growing.” 

“There wasn’t anything else to learn.”

“I felt like I was treading water.”

There’s a reason — employees need to feel like they are learning, growing, and developing in order to feel fulfilled. This is doubly true for younger workers. This year, Millennials made up the largest segment of the workforce for the first time in history, so personal growth and development better be a part of your culture if you want to retain the next generation of top performers.

 

employee engagement ideas

Chapter 7 – Employee Engagement 

Employee engagement is the extent to which people are personally involved in the success of a business, and it’s directly correlated with things like profitably, retention, and customer success. Although it seems like another one of those fluffy, intangible ideas, it can actually be measured – by the likelihood that an employee would recommend working at his or her company to a friend. Engaged employees work harder, are more productive, are more innovative, and are the ones you want on the front lines in moments of crisis.

Employee engagement and culture go hand in hand. Engagement will foster a positive culture, and vice versa. So exactly how do you engage your employees? We’ve got some answers:

 

Compose icon

Chapter 8 – Case Studies, Strategy Tips, and Stellar Cultures in Action

So now you know the theory. But what does it look like in practice? Here are some examples from a few of the companies who are getting workplace culture right. (Break out a pen and paper, because you may want to take some notes!)

 

Conclusion

These resources should have you well on your way to creating an epic culture at your office. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg!

What other resources have you used to help you define your company’s culture? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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