SnackNation http://www.snacknation.com Healthy Snack Delivery Wed, 26 Apr 2017 23:38:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.4 How to Shut Down Dumb Requests from Coworkers – Administrative Professionals Day http://www.snacknation.com/blog/administrative-professionals-day/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/administrative-professionals-day/#comments Tue, 25 Apr 2017 00:49:44 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=18583 Are you an Office Manager or Admin Professional? Have a hard time saying no to stupid requests from your boss & coworkers? Meet SID.

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How to Shut Down Dumb Requests from Coworkers – Administrative Professionals Day

 

Happy Administrative Professionals Day!

Cheers to you – the unsung heroes of the office who keep the office running smoothly, take on crazy duties like managing coworker emotions, and continue to do more with less.

You have an incredibly important job and are one of the few people who interacts with employees at every level and within every department virtually every day.

So to celebrate Administrative Professionals Day this year, we wanted to help make your life a little easier…

Do you have a hard time saying “no” to stupid requests at work?

In our 2017 State of The Office Manager Report, we found that Admins are expected to be “yes” men and woman no matter how ridiculous the request.

That’s why at SnackNation, we created SID – the “Shut It Down” Digital Assistant.

Enjoy!

P.S.Want to get your hands on SID? Visit SnackNation.com/SID

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Why Recognition is The Most Important Pillar of Employee Engagement http://www.snacknation.com/blog/recognition-pillar-of-engagement/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/recognition-pillar-of-engagement/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 21:42:27 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=18553 Engagement is more than just the hoped for result of dating site denizens and contestants on The Bachelor, it’s a key differentiator that leads to business success in companies across all verticals.

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Why Recognition is The Most Important Pillar of Employee Engagement

Engagement is more than just the hoped for result of dating site denizens and contestants on The Bachelor, it’s a key differentiator that leads to business success in companies across all verticals.

And similar to the variety of dating sites like Match.com, Bumble and OK Cupid, more and more employee engagement platforms are flooding the market, offering relief to companies seeking to address major business challenges.

One thing that remains universally important in maintaining employee engagement (in both relationships and software platforms) is recognition. When done with purpose, employee recognition is the engine that drives engagement; it provides a highly visible, tangible way to ensure your employees are appreciated for their contributions while at the same time reinforcing key company values.

With employee engagement declining for the first time in five years, it’s more important than ever for organizations to understand how they can use recognition as the underpinning of a successful engagement initiative. But even more important is understanding, how companies can use engagement to address specific business objectives. With that in mind, I have provided some specific guidance below:

Creativity Creates Company Culture

Focusing on company culture comes first, and with good reason. Nothing else I will suggest from here on in is possible unless your business has a culture that will attract and engage high-performing employees. Culture is the essence of an organization, it is a reflection of the values your company hopes to be defined by. And with the rise of company review sites such as Glassdoor, it can be the determining factor in how the world at large views your company.

77% of employees tie engagement to workplace relationships with co-workers, so a positive workplace culture isn’t just a bonus; it’s mandatory. One of the best ways to create a positive corporate culture is to encourage frequent recognition. Recognition makes both the recognizer and the recognized feel good and a creatively personalized recognition can do wonders in cultivating a fun and appealing environment.

There are a variety of ways to personalize a recognition, framing it in a way that is most meaningful to the recipient. As the recognizer, you have the ability to inject some lightheartedness or gravity to a specific instance of praise, and show the recognized that you appreciate their efforts on a truly personal level.

It might be a highly personalized message to the recipient, touching on factors critical to the success you are recognizing. Or perhaps you include a funny photo or video, (everybody loves goofy cat videos), that reinforces the gist of a recognition. However you choose to recognize a colleague, make sure to include a personal touch. It will resonate with the recipient long after the recognition is given.

I can readily recall my favorite recognition moments from the colleagues that I hold in high regard, not only because I remember the actions that led to it, but in part because of the personal nature of the message.

Hip hop, Oakland sports teams, literature; by using these references when offering praise for something I accomplished, my colleagues are indicating that they understand me and my interests outside of work, moving past the perfunctory and signaling an appreciation for me as an individual.

priase-screenshot

Above, I have included one of my favorite recognitions that received last year. It adheres to all the criteria I set forth above: timely, personal and specific. Knowing my co-workers care about me beyond the walls of the office serves to motivate me to work as hard toward a goal and as a member of the team as they do.

This is what ensures I am ready and willing to tackle each work day with immediate and sustained enthusiasm—what engagement experts refer to as discretionary effort. A salary gets you in the office door in the morning, culture keeps you engaged all day.

Recognition Results in Retention

The war for talent is real. Any person with an internet connection and a solid resume can be considered for jobs around the world with the click of a button. Even if your company is lucky enough to land talented employees, keeping them is a whole other ball of wax. According to Gallup, only 33% of employees are engaged in their job meaning two-thirds of the workforce is possibly looking to leave a company for a new opportunity.

There are many factors involved when an employee is disengaged, but feeling underappreciated for their contributions can leave the individual employee not only disengaged but possibly disgruntled. Recognizing employees in a highly visible manner can go a long way towards keeping them engaged. It shows that as a leader, you give credit when and where it is due. And when peers recognize each other it shows that everyone’s contributions and insights are valued.

What if I told you that recognition is most effective when it happens immediately? You don’t need to swallow the red pill from “The Matrix” to understand that effective recognition should occur immediately upon attainment of a specific goal or the performance of a desired behavior.

Think about it; if you wait for an annual or semi-annual review to finally credit your high-performing employee for their successes, you might inadvertently lessen the impact of the recognition by not remembering all it took to reach the goal. Even worse, you might forget it all together.

trophies

By offering real-time praise to an employee you ensure your recognition is specific and references the exact behavior that you hope to highlight and encourage for the future. And it’s even better if you have an employee recognition platform that allows the commendation to be broadcast company wide, enabling colleagues to further applaud the recipient(s) of the recognition.

By setting an example that exemplary work will be praised regularly, immediately, specifically and positively, leaders are reinforcing characteristics and behaviors they would like all their employees to exhibit.

Praising Peers Permeates Productivity

Engaged employees exhibit more enthusiasm in completing business critical tasks because they have a willingness and desire to go above and beyond their normal duties for a company that values them. This is why engaged workplaces are 21% more productive than those that aren’t.

Of course, the flip side of this, disengagement, can have an astoundingly negative impact on productivity, even getting to the point in which it would be better to NOT to have the disengaged, unproductive employee in the office. Their gripes, negativity and willingness to distract others can bring down entire departments.

Often, when word of a frustrated employee finally reaches the ears of their manager, it’s too late to re-engage them. Perhaps a word of encouragement from a manager could have helped keep the employee engaged. But with loads of responsibility already on their plate, how are leaders supposed to keep track of all the effort an employee has given?

With large teams, it’s extremely difficult. However, there is a cure for this “recognition deficiency”.

Allowing colleagues to recognize one another, peer-to-peer, with both social (non-monetary) and monetary (rewards-based) recognitions, can help ensure that productivity and spirits remain high. Who better than the colleagues that regularly interact with a given employee to understand the value they are creating and recognizing?

The engagement effect here is further amplified when a company ties corporate values to recognition categories, allowing greater understanding as to the action that led to recognition and the repetition of the desired behavior through positive reinforcement.

Adding a “Boost” (one click-recognition) component to peer-to-peer recognition enables those short on time, such as the aforementioned managers and executives, to piggy-back on a given acknowledgement with a single click of a mouse.

There is no magic bullet to ensuring employee engagement remains consistently high. Even with the guidance I provide in this blog, there are many other ways to help create a company culture defined by engagement. As no two employees are the same, it will likely take a combination of initiatives to help sustain engagement levels.

Employee wellness (such as facilitating a “steps” challenge or offering your employees healthy in-office snacks), flexibility in work schedule (allowing employees to work when and where they are most comfortable) and development opportunities (mentorship programs, learning opportunities) are other cultural offerings your company can institute at a minimum of cost.

Regardless of the methods your company chooses to help foster and maintain engagement, the common core of these ideas is an emphasis on displaying to employees that they are the most valuable asset in the company and that the positive contributions they make are valued, no matter how massive or miniscule.

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Snack Survival Guide – Music Fest Edition: 3 Must Eat Snacks for the 2017 Festival Season http://www.snacknation.com/blog/snack-survival-guide-music-fest-edition/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/snack-survival-guide-music-fest-edition/#comments Mon, 24 Apr 2017 18:14:57 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=18557 Whether you’re an Electric Daisy Carnival kind of girl or Oregon’s Pickathon is more your speed, here are three snacks you can’t do without this festival season.

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Snack Survival Guide – Music Fest Edition

3 Must Eat Snacks for the 2017 Festival Season

3 Must Eat Snacks for the 2017 Festival Season

Sure, Coachella might already be a distant (hazy) memory, but the summer music festival season is far from over. In fact, it’s only just beginning. From Stagecoach (April 30th) to Austin City Limits (October 13-15), there’s no shortage of bands to fall in love with, randos to crush on, sunglasses to lose, and sunburns to get before it’s all said and done.

One rookie mistake you should take care to avoid this year – rolling to your favorite fest without a bevy of delicious snacks to sustain you through all those long, hot summer days and nights.

(Plus, no self-respecting festival vet would ever pay for overpriced festival food.)

So whether you’re an Electric Daisy Carnival kind of girl or Oregon’s Pickathon is more your speed, here are three snacks you can’t do without this festival season.

Pirate’s Booty White Cheddar Rice & Corn Puffs

It’s a known fact that pirates prefer their cheddar like their rum – aged.

That’s why the swashbucklers over at P-Booty created this flavor packed masterpiece.

Pirate's Booty White Cheddar Rice & Corn Puffs

Their White Cheddar puffs are baked, certified gluten free, and altogether wholesome snacks. But don’t let their lack of artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives make you think for a second these are kids stuff. They come through in the pinch, and punch above their weight in the flavor department.

Perfect for: a burst of energy right before you come out of mosh retirement for that Jawbreaker reunion set at Riot Fest in Chi-town.

Grab the Gold Snack Bar

Grab the Gold makes a gluten free, balanced protein snack bar that tastes like a chocolate peanut butter oatmeal no-bake cookie

What it doesn’t have: gluten, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, trans fat, dairy.

What it does have: 11 grams of balanced, high quality protein, 7 grams of fiber, and DAT FLAVOR THO.

Grab the Gold Snack Bar

Grab the Gold is a delicious chocolate peanut butter oatmeal no-bake cookie that packs a serious dose of fiber and protein to keep you full while you soak up the atmosphere at your fest of choice. It’s hard to believe that these were created by founder Danielle Ontiveros when she was just 16 years old.

Did we mention they’re vegan?

Perfect for: taking in a golden sunset with Mumford & Sons as your soundtrack at the uber laidback Hangout Music Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Cookie Department Snapback Ginger Cookie

The Cookie Department makes functional fare from simple, all-natural ingredients with naturally occurring benefits.

Take their Snapback Ginger (a personal favorite). They’ve combined natural detoxifiers like cayenne pepper, black strap molasses, and ginger to create the ultimate functional gingersnap.

Cookie Department Snapback Ginger Cookie

Plus, these tasty treats are non-GMO, locally sourced, and contain ZERO artificial ingredients.

Perfect for: rocking your illest snapback and chilling out to some Frank Ocean, Tribe Called Quest, and Solange at this year’s FYF Fest in Los Angeles.

Tell us in the comments what your favorite Music Festival snack is!

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11 Effective Time Management Tips for Busy Office Managers http://www.snacknation.com/blog/time-management-tips-office-managers/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/time-management-tips-office-managers/#respond Mon, 17 Apr 2017 17:52:39 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=18430 Here are 11 proven time management tips for Office Managers, so you can get more work done in less time and conquer your to-do list.

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11 Effective Time Management Tips for Busy Office Managers

time management tips for office managers

Stop me if this sounds familiar…

You get in the office early with every intention of crushing the day, and maybe getting out on time for once. You dutifully make your to-do list, and get cracking on the first few items.

But around 9:30, the interruptions start coming – your boss needs you to run a quick errand, an unannounced visitor needs attention, your co worker needs help restarting her computer.

The next thing you know it’s 4:45 pm, and you miraculously have more things on your to-do list than when you started.

Time is in particularly short supply for office managers, a group who is increasingly asked to do more with less.

This was a major finding in our 2017 State of the Office Manager report, a first of its kind study of hundreds of Office Managers representing nearly 70 different industries. When asked to name their top challenges, office managers most commonly replied “an intense workload/not enough time” (37.5%).

This was true despite the fact that Office Managers tend to work long hours. Nearly half of respondents reported working more than 8 hours a day on average. 14% were putting in 10 hour days.

This lack of time isn’t all that surprising when you take into consideration how much the scope of the Office Manager has increased in recent years. Office Managers are tasked not just with administrative functions, but with event planning, cultural development, onboarding, and other duties that traditionally might fall under HR, finance, or operations.

So for Office Managers, the expert time management skills are a must-have for anyone who wants to excel in the role.

So we’ve put together this list of Office Manager time hacks – tried and true tricks of the trade from the world’s most seasoned and successful Office Managers. We’ve broken them out into a few categories to make it easier for you to find what you need – and hopefully save you a little time!

Organization & Task Management

Investing a small portion of your time upfront in organization can pay major dividends later (and save you some serious headaches).

Even if you consider yourself pretty organized, here are some advanced tips.

 

1. Schedule Your Week in Advance

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

As Office Managers, this is more than a motivational quote – it’s a motto to live by.

At a minimum, you should be planning your calendar the night before to make sure you hit the ground running first thing in the morning.

Want to save even more time? Plan your entire week in advance.

schedule calendar

Without much extra effort, weekly planning enables you to quickly glance at and tweak your calendar at the end of each workday (rather than starting from scratch every evening).

It also makes it easier to plan in a holistic way, connecting your daily and weekly activities to longer term goals. That’s because daily planning tends to keep you focused on the trees, while weekly planning enables you to pop your head up and see the whole forest.

Friday afternoon or Sunday evening is usually the best time for weekly planning, when you aren’t distracted by incoming emails.

 

2. Prioritize with Crucial Results

Crucial Results is a system that SnackNation CEO Sean Kelly developed in the early days of his entrepreneurial journey as a way to stay on task when he and his business partners were trying to accomplish big things on their own (i.e., with no one but themselves holding them accountable).

The practice served him so well that he kept it at SnackNation, where it’s helped shape the company’s culture of growth and radical accountability.

It works like this:

Crucial Results breaks down those big quarterly or yearly goals into weekly and daily tasks so that you spend your time working high leverage activities that will move your goals forward. By design, your day-to-day always tracks back to those larger goals.

Crucial Results step 4

Crucial Results also have a less obvious advantage. You know your itemized to-do list that’s 50 lines long? You’re never going to get that done in one day, which means you’ll always end the day feeling like you’ve failed to get everything done.

Even if you have 10 daily to-do’s, on a good day you might get seven of them done.

And really – that’s a great accomplishment! You crushed seven important items. But because you had ten items on your list, you’ll still feel like you didn’t finish what you set out to accomplish.

By focusing on just three daily tasks, you’ll finish each day with the satisfaction of knowing you finished your three highest leverage activities.

Here’s a more in-depth explanation of how the Crucial Results system works, along with a spreadsheet template you can download for you and your team.

 

3. Use a Daily Docket Style Notepad

This tip comes from OM extraordinaire Windi from Indiana:

“Going from a traditional to do list to a daily docket notepad has been hugely helpful for me.”

The Daily Docket not only enables you to see your whole day on one page, but also separates appointments, errands, tasks, and notes to keep everything organized. It’s simple, yet effective.

Windi agrees:

“I like that it helps me prioritize tasks and track items and reminders for the person and committees I support.”

She recommends this daily docket pad from InkWell Press.

 

4. Task Management Software

Want to go paperless? Task management software like Trello and TeamGantt are two highly popular digital task and project management software that can make tracking progress on essential tasks a breeze.

trello-dashboard-screenshot-v2

Heather, an Office Manager from Los Angeles, elaborates:

“Trello is helpful for organizing to-dos for days/weeks/months etc. TeamGantt is amaaazing for organizing my big conferences/events. Both tools can be used with other people on your team as well, as a collaboration tool.”

 

Eliminate Distractions

We’re fond of a saying here at SnackNation: if you want to go fast, you have to release the e-brake before you can step on the gas.

In other words, you can’t expect high performance without first eliminating the things that are holding you back.

When it comes to productivity, this means eliminating distractions. Here’s how to minimize the distractions that are killing your time each day.

 

5. Use a Ticketing System for Inbound Requests

One of the biggest challenges for Office Managers is that team members from all over the organization often come to you to solve their problems. Not only can it be hard to track all these inbound requests, but these constant interruptions also prevent you from getting the important stuff done.

A ticketing system helps make sure nothing slips through the cracks while also enabling your teammates to log their request within interrupting your workflow.

Office Manager Norah is a fan of using ZenDesk for this purpose.

“I have ZenDesk set up so people can email me at a special office email address and it creates a ticket in ZenDesk,” she explains. “This way I can manage my tickets and mark them as complete when they are finished!”

If ZenDesk isn’t an option at your company, here’s a DIY solution from OM Megan.

“I have [an Excel spreadsheet] 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.

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 provide an excel template you can use to try her system for yourself. You can download that template here.

 

6. Set Your Phone to Gray Scale

grey-scale-iphone

Ever wonder why those little notification dots on all your apps are red? It’s not a coincidence.

App makers have relentlessly tested their designs, and know that a red dot with a number in it is almost impossible for us to resist checking. In their effort to maximize engagement with their apps, they’ve effectively turned your smartphone into the world’s most efficient distraction machine.

The good news is, there’s an easy way to fight it – set your phone to grayscale mode.

A funny thing happens when that that little notification number on your Instagram app is gray instead of bright red. You’re suddenly much less tempted to find out who’s commented on your latest post.

Here’s how to do it for the iPhone.

 

7. Use the Pomodoro Method

Multi-tasking. We’re all terrible at it.

Our brains just aren’t set up to perform more than one complex tasks at a high level. (It’s science.)

The Pomodoro method helps you commit to one task for a manageable amount of time – 25 minutes. Studies have shown that most people can only focus on one task with a high level of performance for an average of 45-50 minutes.

Go to tomato-timer.com and try it for yourself.

tomato timer

 

8. Schedule Distractions

Let’s face it, it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll never pick up your phone to check social media, or your favorite news site, or that incoming text from your mom.

Don’t set yourself up to fail by setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Instead, schedule time to indulge in less than productive activities once or twice throughout the day, for ten or fifteen minutes at a time.

When we say schedule, we mean actually put “look at social media” in your calendar. Allowing yourself your favorite distraction now and again will make it less tempting and help keep you on task for the majority of your day.

 

Communication

I recently sat in on an interview with Seth Epstein, one of the top creative leaders in Los Angeles, and he said something that really struck a chord – just about any problem in life or business can be solved with better communication.

The problems that Office Managers face are usually no exception. Many of the challenges that feel systemic or even unsolvable can often be remedied with better communication. Here are some communication tips to make your life easier and save you time in the long run.

 

9. Use Slack for Internal Communication

Internal messaging apps have a few distinct advantages over email for internal communications, including ease of use, greater transparency, and integration with tons of third party apps. They’re a great way to eliminate information silos that email tends to create.

Office Manager Norah recommends Slack:

“We use Slack heavily, and it is great for fast communication and delegating tasks.”

slack_-_snacknation

10. Strive for Clarity

It might seem like common sense, but we heard this again and again from Office Managers – make sure expectations and outcomes are clear from the get-go. It will save you tons of time in the long run.

It’s really as simple as asking questions whenever something isn’t totally clear.

Another great adage: Problems don’t get better with age. If a project starts to feel overwhelming, goes off the rails, or just isn’t working, do something about it sooner rather than later.

It will always save you time in the long run to bring something up with your boss earlier rather than later.

 

11. Just Say No

How many times a day do you get interrupted by someone in your organization who needs help with something right now? How often do they stop to consider that you might be working on something important?

I’d wager those answers are “a lot” and “never.”

Interruptions of this kind are probably the most common way that Office Managers get thrown off track and end up wasting time trying to refocus.

It might be tempting to be a “yes” man or woman, and instinctively say yes to everything, but saying no to requests that don’t contribute to mission critical goals is an absolute necessity – and can be a life saver when it comes to managing time.

 

What tips and tricks have you developed to take back your time? Share them in the comments below!

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The Modern Guide to (Responsibly) Drinking at Work http://www.snacknation.com/blog/drinking-at-work/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/drinking-at-work/#respond Sun, 09 Apr 2017 08:37:22 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=18345 Up until recently, conventional wisdom dictated that drinking at work probably wasn’t a winning strategy. But things have changed...

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The Modern Guide to (Responsibly) Drinking at Work

pouring beer from tap into glass

Up until recently, conventional wisdom dictated that drinking at work probably wasn’t a winning strategy.

This went for both employees and their employers.

For the buttoned-up, paternal corporate cultures of the 1980s and 90s, alcohol was too risky a proposition, a potential HR minefield where the scant benefits rarely outweigh potential costs.

For employees, office drinking was strictly taboo, often perceived as a lack of discipline or sign of a troubled life at home.

But there’s good news for all you lovers of office libation – boozing in the office is back in fashion.

Drinking on the Job – A (Blurry) History

Office drinking surely had its heyday in the male-dominated work cultures of the 1950s and 60s. This is the Mad Men era, filled with marathon business lunches featuring multiple rounds of Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, or Dirty Martinis. Bleary-eyed executives lurched back to the office seeing double, and a nip of scotch in the afternoon helped stave off the shakes at the end of the day.

Starting in the 80s and 90s, attitudes began to change. Most business historians note that this shift happened to coincide when congress downsized the business meal and entertainment tax deduction, first in 1987 and then again in 1994.

(In other words, drinking at work mysteriously became forbidden as soon as Uncle Sam stopped subsidizing office booze bills.)

empty-conference-room

But in the last decade or so, there’s been a resurgence of office drinking culture.

This rebirth is largely the result of the cultural influence of Silicon Valley. These self-styled “disruptors” were intent on upending the established way of doing business, not just with new models and technologies, but with new or altered organizational norms.

All in all, the result has been more lax attitudes towards sipping the occasional adult beverage at work across all industries. But that’s not to say the modern workplace is an alcohol-soaked free for all.

As an employee, you have to decide, how much indulgence is acceptable, and do the benefits outweigh the risks? Likewise, companies have to make a similar calculus. What does a lax alcohol policy add to your culture, and what potential pitfalls must you consider?

Luckily, we’re here to help.

 

Benefits of Booze at Work

Alcohol is neither the devil’s fire water to be avoided at all costs nor a panacea for a lackluster company culture, but it can play a role in your organization. Here’s why you might consider loosening your standards on drinking at work.

Team Bonding

Alcohol has long been acknowledged as a social lubricant. When enjoyed in moderation, it has a tendency to lower our inhibitions, which can lead your team to form new relationships and forge new bonds. These bonds in turn result in a more engaged team.

toasting beers during meeting in conference room

Recruitment and Retention

As noted above, Silicon Valley startup cultures have created an expectation of a “fun” office environment. In house kegerators, happy hours, and beer pong tournaments are becoming more rule than exception in competitive industries.

Millennial employees especially expect an office culture that allows them to be their true selves at work. They reject the idea that they must adopt a “work self” separate and distinct from their actual personality. And if that means throwing back a few cold ones now and then at their desk, they believe that they should be allowed to do so.

So when industries compete for top talent, some degree of alcohol tolerance is considered a baseline expectation.

Integrating the occasional beverage into your culture doesn’t have to be limited to the in-house happy hour or on-site kegerator.

Creative agency Colle+McVoy created a novel way to ensure their employees accurately tracked their time, designing a kegbot that dispenses ice cold beer only if the employee has an up-to-date timesheet.

A Sign of Trust and Respect

Weaving in adult beverages into your office culture also has another advantage – it sends a message that you trust your employees to act like adults.

Employees don’t want to feel like your leadership team or HR department is acting like a cop or parent when it comes to their behavior. Trusting them to know their own limits and partake in the occasional in-office drink helps do just that.

And a funny thing happens when you expect the best out of your employees – they generally rise to meet your high expectations.

 

Employee Rules of Engagement

Ok, so your company just announced regular Friday happy hours and a beer pong tournament next Thursday. Time to rage, right? Not so fast. Here are a few guidelines to help you participate in the festivities and still keep your job.

Stick to Beer

Why beer? Because with an average alcohol content of 4-6%, beer should enable you to remain in control of your drinking – which is really the goal here.

beer-in-the-office

Compare that to wine, which contains 11-13.5% alcohol by volume, or spirits like vodka and whiskey (both around 40% ABV).

Of course, the craft beer boom means an influx of high gravity brews. Make sure you check the label on that trendy craft beer, because it might actually have an alcohol content of 8% or more, making those two drinks feel like four.

Know Your Limits

A two drink max is a good policy for just about everyone, but alcohol affects everybody differently.

If, for instance, you know that you’re basically still yourself after one drink, but things get dicey after drink number two… maybe just stick to the one.

You want to avoid intoxication at all costs. Ever woken up the next day after a night of heavy drinking and thought to yourself… “Ugh, what did I do to embarrass myself this time?”

Now imagine that same scenario, but throw your boss or co-workers into the mix. Get the point?

Eat

One rookie mistake is to drink on an empty stomach. Downing hooch without food is a recipe for disaster.

It’s not just an old wive’s tale. A 1994 study that compared those who fasted before drinking with those who ate a modest breakfast found that subjects with food in their system had a slower rate of intoxication and a 70% lower blood alcohol level.

Never Drink and Drive

This one should go without saying, but it’s still too common of a problem.

Just don’t do it! Either appoint a designated driver or take an Uber or Lyft. The risk (to yourself and others) just isn’t worth it.

Don’t Pressure People

You might be surprised to learn that there are many people out there who simply choose not to partake. (Shocking, I know.)

Whatever the reason for their teetotaling ways, there’s a good chance it’s pretty personal. So if someone declines a drink, leave it at that. Don’t treat them like an oddity or press them on it if it seems like they’d rather not get into it.

(In all likelihood, this person has had to had to deal with the same annoying questions over and over and again, and is sick of having to justify something that really isn’t that a big of a deal.)

 

So there you have it. All you really have to remember is that common sense rules the day. You want to be relaxed and social without veering into darker territory. So be respectful of your coworkers, know your limits, avoid intoxication, and NEVER drink and drive.

What are some innovative ways your company allows alcohol in the workplace? Let us know in the comments below.

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7 Fun Office Birthday Ideas That Are as Easy as Pie http://www.snacknation.com/blog/office-birthday-ideas/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/office-birthday-ideas/#comments Mon, 03 Apr 2017 16:33:14 +0000 http://www.snacknation.com/?p=17951 Celebrating a coworkers birthday shouldn't be a chore. These 7 fun office birthday ideas are easy to do and will make you as the office hero.

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7 Fun Office Birthday Ideas That Are as Easy as Pie

Although the Notorious B.I.G. wasn’t necessarily referring to office culture when he penned the immortal lines “Birthdays was the worst days,” he very well could have been.

Think about it – the grocery store sheet cake, the lifeless rendition of “Happy Birthday to You,” the elastic party hat string slicing into your windpipe like piano wire – few things in life are as depressing as a poorly executed office birthday party.

On top of that, birthdays can be a lot of pressure. These days it seems like every individual team member feels entitled to a personalized celebration. As an office manager, culture leader, or HR pro, you may feel obligated to deliver.

office-birthday-ideas

But as your company grows, this becomes harder and harder. Beyond twenty or so employees, it really isn’t feasible.

For these reasons, it might be tempting to throw your hands up and say “forget it,” letting birthday celebrations fall by the wayside. But it doesn’t have to be this way. When it comes to office birthdays, a little goes a long way. With a little planning, office birthdays can be both a breeze and an opportunity to add value to your company.

Before we dive into our best office birthday ideas, let’s quickly explore why you all this birthday stuff matters in the first place.

Culture of Recognition

A more traditional approach to workplace culture might question the need to celebrate birthdays at all. This is usually the point of view of team members who say things like, “We’re all adults here,” or “This isn’t Kindergarten” when they put up a stink about having to watch someone blow out candles.

Fair enough. But there’s a strong why behind celebrating birthdays, and it’s all about creating a culture of recognition.

Multiple studies have shown a strong link between recognition and performance. A 2012 report by HR firm Bersin & Associates suggests that companies that integrate strong employee recognition practices are on average 12 times more likely than their peers to generate strong business results. This means higher profitability and better market positions.

Recognition doesn’t just mean acknowledging a job well done (although that’s certainly important), but recognizing and appreciating your employees as people.

Today’s employees (especially Millennial employees) expect to be able to be their true selves at work. Because of this, more and more companies are ditching the old work-life balance paradigm for the more accurate work-life integration model, which acknowledges that work and life are inseparable. Celebrating birthdays helps tell your employees that you get that they are living life everyday inside of your office.

Finally, birthday celebrations are simply a chance to show you’ve been paying attention. A personalized note or gift that speaks to your employees hobby or passion demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to get to know them on a personal level. This goes a long way towards creating an emotional bond between company and team.

And really, it doesn’t take a lot to make your teammates feel special, cared for, and appreciated. SnackNation Vibe Manager extraordinaire Liza Goldberg elaborates:

liza-goldberg“From my experience, what I’ve found is that really all team members want for their birthday is just to see that their company remembers their birthday and cares enough to acknowledge them on it. Even the smallest things planned for them will go a long way.”

Here are our easy-as-pie (or cake) tips to make office birthdays a part of a winning company culture.

 

1. Create a Custom Video

This one is a little more involved, and you’ll need basic video editing skills to pull it off, so you might want to reserve it for team members with some seniority. But trust us, the results are well worth it.

The idea is to create a video that celebrates your team member’s personality and unique contributions to the office.

Here’s an easy formula to get a great video:

  1. Come up with a list of funny questions to ask a group of 5-10 people who know the birthday boy or girl well.
  2. Ask each person your questions and record their answers with your phone or video camera. Important – make sure you conduct the interviews separately so that people don’t have a chance to hear the questions or other answers beforehand. You’re going for off-the-cuff responses.
  3. Edit the responses together using video editing software. (iMovie works well for this – and it’s free on every Mac!)
  4. Debut the video during a team or department meeting.

Here are few sample questions to get you started:

  • What is _____ most known for around the office?
  • What was _____’s first thought when he woke up this morning?
  • If _____ didn’t work at this company, where would she work?
  • What’s the weirdest part of your first interview with _____?
  • If _____ was on a deserted island, what three things would he want with him?

 

2. Make it Personal

One of the most impactful things you can do is to personalize the gift or celebration for your team mate.

Why? Because it shows you’re paying attention, and that you don’t just care about the work your teammates do, but who they are as people.

Liza weighs in again:

liza-goldberg“If you can, make it personal for each team member. If you know the person loves Ryan Gosling, print pictures of him and post them around her desk. Know that they love bananas? Get a ton of bananas and deliver them… dressed in a banana suit.”

We recently tried this approach on SnackNation CEO Sean Kelly. Sean is a native Michigander and die hard Michigan football fan, so for his birthday this year we surprised Sean with a re-creation of Michigan’s iconic on the field entry. We even had a Jim Harbaugh lookalike (co-founder Andy Mackensen sporting the coach’s famous Khakis and horn-rimmed spectacle look) and a banner made.

Of course, this is a bit of an extreme example, but it illustrates the point – personalize your celebration to let your team know that you care.

 

3. Surprise Desk Decoration

If you have a stash of streamers, confetti and balloons (and if you plan events, I’m guessing you do) this should be an easy one.

Timing is key, and you have a few options here: stay later and decorate the evening before, get into the office early or ask a colleague who comes in early or stays late.

I know, it’s tough asking for help, but don’t you find that most of your colleagues do offer their help. Take them up on it this time!

 

4. Go with an Alternative Cake

Let’s face it, the traditional, frosting coated sheet cake isn’t ideal for the office. Not only has it been done to death, but all that refined sugar leads to a productivity-killing energy crash shortly thereafter.

Here are a few birthday cake alternatives for you to try:

Vegetable Cake – This works well for those teammates who are on a health kick. It’s basically a vegetable tray disguised as a cake. The novelty factor makes it hilarious, and it’s actually quite satisfying!

Here’s a veggie cake our team made for SnackNation CEO Sean Kelly:

vegetable-cake

 

Pie – There are two types of people in this world – cake people and pie people. Knowing who’s who in your office will win you some major points.

Healthier Indulgences – There are so many amazing, healthier snacks out there that will satisfy your sweet cravings without sabotaging your health goals OR setting you up for a major crash later in the day. We’re talking products like Honey Stingers, Caveman bars, Ginnybakes Organic Cookies, Little Secrets, Skinny Dipped Almonds, or Surf Sweets chews. Gift one of our Healthier Indulgence boxes from SnackNation Market, which contains an assortment of lower-glycemic treats. There’ll be enough to go around (although the birthday boy or girl might not want to share).

Office Snack Delivery

Watermelon Cake – This original spin on birthday cake looks great, tastes amazing, and is totally healthy. Here’s a link to the recipe.

watermelon-cake

 

5. Monthly Celebrations

Is your team too big to really get personal on their special day? Don’t sweat it, there’s an easy fix.

At SnackNation, we used to celebrate everyone’s birthday individually, with balloons, treats, videos – the works. But when our company went from around 20 people to 100+ in less than a year, we quickly realized this wasn’t feasible.

The solution was monthly celebrations. Every month we pick a day to celebrate ALL the people born in that month. It doesn’t matter if it’s the beginning middle or end of the month, the key is to make it a consistent celebration.

Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be some impersonal announcement at your monthly all-hands. You can still make it a real celebration – try catering a special lunch or throwing a happy hour. Your teammates will appreciate the gesture, and you won’t kill yourself trying to throw a show-stopping party every other day.

 

6. Change Up The Song

Did you know that that “Happy Birthday to You” is intellectual property?

That’s right. The song was penned by school teachers Patty and Mildred Hill in 1893 and until June of last year, publishing company Warner/Chappell had been collecting licensing royalties for the song to the tune of $2 million a year.

Which seems crazy since, let’s be honest…pretty much everyone hates that song.

Ditch the tired old standard and try something a little more contemporary. Here are a few songs you might want to serenade your coworkers with instead:

Stevie Wonder – “Happy Birthday”
This track is great because while it has the same sentiment as the more ubiquitous “Happy Birthday to You,” it’s much catchier.

The Beatles – “Birthday”
This uptempo number from the White Album will have your team partying like it’s 1969.

50 Cent – “In Da Club”
Did 50 know he was writing a modern day birthday classic when he came out with his breakout hit “In Da Club?” Probably not, but the line “Go shorty, it’s your birthday” made it exactly that.

NOFX – “New Birthday Song”
With lyrics like, “Happy birthday, you’re not special,” only play this song for co-workers with a sense of humor. (Also, be forewarned, there’s an F-bomb in this hilarious song.)

 

7. Get Leaders Involved

Remember that creating a culture of recognition is really at the heart of birthday celebrations. There’s no better way to emphasize the importance of recognition than to get senior leadership involved.

Your team will respond more to actions than words. When you get buy-in from the top you send a strong signal that recognition is part of your team’s identity and culture.

If you have a boss that drags her feet when it comes to getting involved, there are ways to make this incredibly easy – both for her and you.

As we’ve written elsewhere, a handwritten note from your boss goes a long way. It’s that personal touch that really sets it off.

hand written notes

It might seem a little daunting to get the CEO to write birthday notes for every team member, but a little work upfront makes this totally doable.

Here’s what you can do:

  • During your onboarding process, make sure to keep track of every team member’s birthday.
  • Enter the dates in a spreadsheet.
  • Create calendar invites for your boss for everyone’s birthday. Be sure to add any relevant info in the calendar – i.e., if it’s a particularly important birthday, or if they have a special interest or hobby.
  • Buy a stack of notecards and keep them at your desk.
  • The day before each birthday, remind your boss to pen a quick note.
  • Be sure to track whether or not the note reached the person on the spreadsheet so nothing slips through the cracks.

 

BONUS Tip: Go-to Gifting

Giving employees a small gift with a nice card will often do the trick with your employees.

Easier said than done, we know.

In this situation, think of the boy scout motto – always be prepared.

Liza describes how she makes it work:

liza-goldberg“Having a small but consistent gift on hand makes it a lot easier for you. Buy a ton of candles or a ton of bottles of wine and have them on hand. The card is the key ingredient in the gift. Use your company’s stationary or buy a stack of fun cards to have on hand.”

Finally, keep in mind that consistency is one of the keys to making this all work.

You don’t want to give your employees a reason to cry favoritism because you followed up an over the top, personalized celebration with one that was a little underwhelming. Consider factors like the size of your workforce and the number of senior level employees to come up with a system you can replicate again and again.

Also keep in mind that you don’t have to kill yourself to create something your employees will appreciate and that achieves your goals. It doesn’t have to be overly elaborate – you just need to do something that cuts through the noise and lifts everyone’s spirits for a few minutes out of the day.

 

What are some creative ways you celebrate birthdays at your office? Let us know in the comments below.

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21 Hilarious Office Pranks That (Hopefully) Won’t Get You Fired http://www.snacknation.com/blog/office-pranks/ http://www.snacknation.com/blog/office-pranks/#comments 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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21 Hilarious Office Pranks That (Hopefully) Won’t Get You Fired

office pranks covering desk in grass

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.)

air horn taped under chair

 

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 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.

mac display settings screen

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 blue error screen of death

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 snacknation“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 prank

 

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.

tape over mouse tracking beam prank

 

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.

desk wrapped in tin foil

wrapping paper desk prank

desk wrapped in tin foil 2

 

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.

man napping at work in sleeping bag

 

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.

toilet paper 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.

fisher price toys desk swap

(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 roar contest flyer

 

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/#comments 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!

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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 to 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,

“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.

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

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5 Surprising Secrets Of Successful Office Managers

 

 

April 19th, 2017: 10AM Pacific, 12PM Central, 1PM Eastern

 

Click here to get a text reminder

 

See you there!

 

 

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