Classic Office Pranks

Why you can never go on vacation, I

Clearly your employees need constant supervision.

Why you can never go on vacation, II

You just don't know what you'll find when you return.

Galley slaves

The office crew.

Boo!

A very jumpy girl.

Why you should behave yourself at the office

You just don't know what can go wrong.

He tried the reasonable approach

But sometimes you've got to show the equipment just who's the boss.

That'll fix it.

When co-workers attack, I

Sometimes they have a good reason.

A very good reason.

Don't get too comfortable

Didn't your mother always warn you against leaning your chair back?

Discombobulated

It's always embarrassing to show up somewhere uninvited.

When your office disappears.

Stay alert at all times

Hiring Resources: Where Can You Find Good Employees?

It's always a challenge to find good employees. Most employers feel that employee referrals are often the best source for qualified candidates. Some even offer a small employee incentive for the referrals that are hired and stay with the firm for 3 months or more. Referrals are a great idea if you don't have a full time human resources department or spare management time for interviews. They also work well if you need to hire special skills really quick.

Another avenue you can try is your industry trade association. They may have an online job board or an email newsletter where you can post your job opening. For little or no cost, this ensures that you look at the best qualified people without having to sift through tons of irrelevant resumes. You may even be able to post the job listing anonymously.

Depending on the nature of the job, you may also find Craig's List (www.craigslist.com) to be a great resource. This is especially true for entry level jobs, attracting a younger workforce, or even for temp positions.

Here are some other online job boards to consider:

  • www.monster.com
  • www.hotjobs.com
  • www.dice.com (for tech jobs)
  • www.hirestrategy.com
  • www.asae.org
  • www.idealist.com (for association or non-profit jobs)

There is usually a nominal fee for posting jobs to these websites. Don't forget, you can also add a "Careers" or "Jobs" section to your own website.

The trick about hiring is starting with the right job description. Be specific about the skills you are looking for. Don't put all your wish list items in there. If you have budget constraints, put the salary in the ad. This will allow candidates to self select which will save you a lot of guesswork and time.

Increase Your Productivity with Instant Messaging Applications

Instant Messenger

When your team is far flung across the nation or around the Globe, instant messaging applications can give you quick access. I like to have my team all use the same instant messaging application. We all can see when each other are online. The message can be as short at a sentence, but gets an instant answer.

Using instant messaging you can even multi task, assigning client follow-up to a team member while you are on the phone with the client. One rule that we've established is that anything that needs numbers or prices however, must be done by email so we all have an archive copy. The hardest thing that I have had to learn is to update my status when I am unavailable or walk away.

Team members don't even need to be out of the office to benefit from the increased productivity that instant messaging can provide. Many offices use instant messaging even though they could just yell out the door or over the top of a cubicle to get an answer. Instant messaging versus yelling your question is so much more professional and does not add to your office background noise. Think of instant messaging as your new instant information pipeline and productivity time saver.

Put Your Emails to Work for You

We've all received them, but are you sending them yourself? I am specifically talking about an email message signed by an executive but with a Yahoo.com, Hotmail.com or Gmail.com address in the signature.

When you have a website, you should really use the associated email addresses that contain your domain name. Not only does this market your brand - your site and you, but using your domain name in your email address is a silent salesman to drive traffic to your website for prospects, customers, and even clients. Once on your website they can learn more about your products and services. You would be absolutely amazed at how many times you will find email application notes as referrers in your website traffic logs.

Yes using some of these free email services is easy, but does not communicate the level of professionalism or the services that you may provide. If you feel that you really must use these generic email addresses, you may want to consider having your custom domain email forwarded to your catch all Yahoo.com, Hotmail.com or Gmail.com account.

When you are an entrepreneur, you have to take advantage of every edge, every avenue, and every free opportunity to promote your brand and your services. There is simply no better way to do this than to use your own domain name as your email account.

Put Your Email Signature to Work on Promoting Your Next Conference Call Event

How often have you gotten an email from a client where there was no signature other than their name and email address at the bottom? We all get these types of emails, but did you know that you can put your email signature to work for getting more attendees at your next teleconference?

Think of the space assigned to your email signature as free ad space. Make sure that you have not only your name, but your contact information as well as a link to your website and a link to the page that tells readers about your upcoming teleconference.

Below is just one example that you may want to consider when setting up your own signature.

Janie Smith
President
Image Coaching for Experts

Voice: 1-800-555-1212
Fax: 404-555-1212

Visit us on the Web at www.AccuConference.com
Sign up for our free teleconference on February 15th at 1:00 PST today!

Although these hyperlinks just go to our own website in this example if you linked to an informational page and sign up form for your upcoming teleconference you provide the instant opportunity to get more attendees at your next teleconference.

Make sure that if you decide to create a fancy signature including images that some email recipients will only receive the text and the image as an attachment. When it comes to email simpler is better, but make sure to use this free real estate to promote your own services.

Clear Communication Is the Hallmark of Effective Leadership

"If a leader can't get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn't even matter," Gilbert Amelio, former CEO of National Semiconductor and Apple Computer, once said.

In a Right Management Consultants survey of 133 organizations, 40% of managers and executives were found to exhibit strong leadership characteristics. However, of that 40%, fully one-third lacked the communication skills to effectively manage employees. In the business world, an effective leader needs to be a strong communicator. It is not enough to have vision; you must be able to communicate that vision to your employees.

Not surprisingly, effective communication skills topped the list of traits considered most valuable in a manager. In order of greatest importance, the following are the skills companies seek in a successful manager:

  • 47% Good communication skills
  • 44% Sense of vision
  • 32% Honesty
  • 31% Decisiveness
  • 26% Favorable workplace relationships
  • 23% Intelligence
  • 22% Creativity
  • 21% Attention to detail

When you consider the best managers that you have known how do they measure on this list. The ability to lead is tied very closely to the ability to communicate and the ability to motivate others.

Balancing the Mars/Venus Dichotomy in Conferencing

The differences between men and women in and out of the workplace have filled volumes. When teleconferencing or video conferencing, it helps to understand the underlying difference in approach. As women became a more powerful force in the workplace, the differences in the way men and women communicate generated significant academic study. In the 1980s, Georgetown scholar Deborah Tannen succinctly summarized more than a decade's worth of linguistic research into what has become a widely accepted belief: Men talk to deliver information and women talk to create relationships. Tannen called these two styles of speech report talk and rapport talk.

Though oversimplified, this observation has been popularized in books such as John Gray's Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus to the point that it is universally accepted as the defining statement about gender and speech: Men talk to deliver information. Women talk to make friends. Or, as Rob Becker says in his funny one-man Broadway play Defending the Caveman: Men are the hunters, always focused on the target. Women are the gatherers, always seeking more information.

In the workplace, we have learned the dangers of stereotyping, but there is a kernel of truth in the general concept. Numerous scientific studies have proven that men and women do use their brains differently which often results in different thought processes and communication styles. Cultural learning exacerbates these differences. In teleconferencing or video conferencing with business colleagues, encouraging both communication styles can build consensus and lead to more creative problem solving in the pursuit of your goal.

Communicating with Foreign Customers or Colleagues

In an interesting experiment, an American university professor divided students into two groups. Both listened to the same lecture by a native speaker of English. Each group was shown a photograph of the purported speaker. The group that was shown a photo of an obviously American speaker exhibited greater comprehension of the material than the group which believed it was listening to a non-native speaker. Both listened to exactly the same speech delivered by the same individual.

Personal assumptions, cultural bias, gender, age or racial prejudices, education preconceptions, and power hierarchies – so many factors affect the way we perceive others. Even when we speak the same language, these biases can affect the way we hear and understand each other. In communicating with foreign customers or colleagues in a teleconference, the effort must be made to set aside our cultural differences to understand each other. Often cultural references and idioms get in the way of clear communication and repetitive efforts must be made to arrive at a shared understanding. Video conferencing can present additional challenges where body language and gestures common in one culture may give unanticipated offense in another.

Many companies that regularly do business in foreign countries have implemented cultural advisor services to assist their employees in putting the company's best foot forward. If your company does not offer such a service, you can find many country-specific websites that provide helpful advice on bridging the cultural gap by entering a search for foreign customs + business meeting. Proper advance preparation will ensure a smoother, more productive teleconference or video conference with your foreign counterparts.