2 May 2018

Meeting with your Boss

It is always good to be prepared when meeting with your boss.  The purpose of the meeting should be to ask questions, get direction, provide and/or receive information.

I would suggest the following:
  • If you have access to your boss's email Inbox, go through it as that will be a good place to start.  As you go through the items, you will have questions about meetings he or she is attending, questions about events they may or not be attending, etc.  Also check their Sent items in case the answer lies in there.  Sometimes I have checked the Sent items to see my boss has already emailed the organizer to send her regrets to a meeting.
  • Review the items you want to discuss before the meeting with your boss.  Sometimes you may have a list of items, but don't get to see your boss face-to-face for a few days.  It is better if you go in prepared.  It will be a better use of both your time.  You do not have to spend a lot of time reviewing, but quickly go through the list so you are familiar with each item.
  • I suggest bringing a notepad and pen, or if you prefer electronic, then bring your laptop. 
  • Some people like to use their cell phones and write on the Notes app any actions they have, but unless you are provided with a cell phone from your organization, I would not recommend using your personal cell phone for work related items.  As convenient as it may seem, it is always best to separate your work and personal life.  If your position requires a cell phone, then your organization should provide one.  There are also work privacy issues that could be compromised if you combine the two.
  • I like to bring a pad of yellow stickies in case I need to write a reminder or a note to myself to make a change or to do an action. 
  • I bring a folder with printed emails/letters etc. that I have questions about or want to provide her with information.  This can also be done on your laptop by making a list of what you need, but whichever method you use, it should be available at a moment's notice.  Sometimes my boss has called me from out of town and asked if I had anything to discuss while she has me on the phone.  I grab my folder and go through the items with her that I need an answer to sooner rather than later.  The rest I leave for our regular meetings.
  • I would recommend meeting with your boss at the beginning of the work day.  If you meet too late in the day, you will undoubtedly leave the meeting with a whole slew of action items that may not be able to wait until the next day.  If you want to leave work on time, have your regular meetings with your boss in the morning.
Be prepared to come out of the meeting with work to be done, with answers to questions so you can move forward on a project and marching orders for other things your boss might want you to do.  It is better to get this information in a regular meeting with your boss, than on the fly.  If you are in a meeting for this purpose then you can ask all the questions you need while you have your boss in front of you.  Sometimes it is hard to get them in one place. 

My current boss is not good at answering emails and quite frankly, I don't really want to clutter up her Inbox with my items when I can ask her by phone or in person.  Previously, in another position, my boss worked great by email and always knew to check anything from me right away.  If that is the case for you, then you should make sure every email you send counts and you do not send reply to all emails or any other clutter that they don't really need to see.

16 February 2018

Viewing Gridlines in a Table in Word

When I create a table in Word I like to see the gridlines (the faint lines that tell you there is a line there, but if you print the document you won't see any lines).  I like this especially for minute taking as I use a minute template with tables.  I prefer creating it this way because I don't want to be fussing with formatting while in a meeting.  The end product will look like it is one area on the document, but really it is many rows of cells.  By doing this it makes it easy to jump from cell to cell. 

Setting the gridlines is done by clicking on the View Gridlines button under the Layout Tab, which is in the Table area (located at the bottom on the ribbon).  See screenshot below:

This is a toggle button so once you set it, it will be on for all your documents, which is what you probably want if you like this feature.  To take it off you just click on it and then it will return to having no gridlines.

I go through this every time I change jobs and start over again with a new computer.  Since this setting is not the default in Word, when you start over on a new computer, it won't be turned on.  I don't change jobs very often so every time I have to change it I am kicking myself for not writing the instructions down as I know it is not intuitive and will take me some time to find the answer.  Also, when you Google it, the answer that usually comes up is for turning on gridlines in your document, which would be used in drafting or in art, not the kind I am looking for. 

See below for screenshot on how to turn on the other gridlines.  It can be found under the View tab in the Show area and you would just tick the Gridlines box to get it to show. 

Of course, the fact that in both cases they are called gridlines is confusing as well. 

6 June 2017

New Minute-taking Webinar

I am giving a minute-taking webinar on June 14 and invite you to join in.  Along with the more traditional minute-taking role, I will be talking about 'live' minute taking.  It can seem very intimidating when all eyes are on you as you type, but there is a way to make even this less stressful. 

I will also speak about those times when your boss calls you into a meeting at the last minute to take notes and you weren't expecting it.  There are ways you can be prepared even under these circumstances.

These new ways seem to be the trend these days and what many are finding they are asked to do.   I will discuss all of these, plus the traditional minute-taking role, and include tips and best practices to help make your experience more positive. 

If you are a seasoned minute taker or a beginner and want to learn more, you can register at the following link: https://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/plp/67700/index.html?campaigncode=1537PR

I hope to see you there.


24 May 2017

Who or Whom?

An easy way to remember when to use who or whom:

If you can replace the word with “he” or “she,” use who. If you can replace it with “him” or “her,” use whom.

See some examples at this link:

25 April 2017

Looking the Part

I attended an event today on minute taking.  Our organization set it up for Admin Professionals' Week.  Unfortunately, my first impression of the speaker was not very good because she was dressed down and looked rather frumpy.  I don't believe in judging a book by its cover, but I was amazed at how easily my mind went there and how I equated how she looked to what she had to say. 

I was happy that my first impression had been wrong.  The presentation had all the key aspects of basic minute taking, and because that was her audience, it was helpful and informative to the group.  I appreciated the work the speaker had put into the presentation and the fact she made herself available to our group.  She was however a paid speaker so I would have expected more. 

This incident today just reinforced to me again that whether we like it or not, how we present ourselves really does make a difference in how we are received.  We only have a few seconds to make a good first impression and whether we are speaking or going to a job interview, we should make it count, because it really does matter.

That is why I appreciate the charity Dress for Success.  Donations of business clothes are collected for people who are going on an interview or just starting a new job and otherwise couldn't afford clothes for the office.  It can make all the difference before you get your first pay cheque.

This Administrative Professionals' week, if you are able, why not consider donating to this worthy cause.  Or if you are in need, look them up in your city and take advantage of this very needed support.

Happy Admin Professionals' week everyone!

27 February 2017

Reading Other People's Minutes

It is important to read other people's minutes.  Especially from meetings that your boss may have something to do with.  It can be beneficial for a number of reasons:
  • It will give you a broader idea of what your boss is involved in and will help you assist him or her better;
  • It will help you understand the business better, which will help you in taking your own minutes;
  • It can give you pointers on how to minute better by looking at how they worded a sentence or handled a discussion.  You can use some of the words they used.  Whenever I learn a new word or phrase, I add it to my list and if I'm ever stuck, I go back to the list and choose something appropriate;
  • It will also give you good tips on what not to do.  Many times I have read minutes and there was a lot of he said/she said in it, or it was so point form it didn't make a lot of sense.  Looking at it as an outsider helped me to see how that was not the best way to record minutes.

23 January 2017

Annotated Agenda

It is very useful to prepare an annotated agenda when going into a meeting.  For those who have never used one (or heard of it), it is simply an agenda with notes on it.  For the agenda that I send to the meeting participants, I annotate it to let them know why an item is on the agenda or if there are any attachments.  In my example below you will see that I put brackets around the notes and italicize them.

Call to Order:
1.  Adoption of Agenda (Motion Required)
2.  Approval of Previous Minutes of December 25, 2016 (Attached) (Motion Required)
3.  ABC Matter (Deferred from November meeting) (For Discussion)
4.  Staff Communications (15 minutes to discuss any concerns from staff)

For the agenda for the Chair and myself, I prepare it as above, but with cheat notes so he will not forget some points he wants to make or that I want to remind him to bring up.  My new boss had never used an annotated agenda before so when I started using it he kept telling me how useful it was.  You will see in my example below that I use red font, but you can use any colour that stands out or highlight it in yellow.  Whatever works for you and the Chair.

Call to Order:
-  Remind them about the upcoming retreat on Feb. 10. 
- Finance Committee signed off on budget.
- Mr. Roberts will be the new Co-Chair of the Finance Committee (Mr. Brown is stepping down as Co-Chair of this Committee as of January 26, 2017).
1.  Adoption of Agenda (Motion Required)  
2.  Approval of Previous Minutes of December 25, 2016 (Attached) (Motion Required)
3.  ABC Matter (Deferred from November meeting) (For Discussion)
4.  Staff Communications (15 minutes to discuss any concerns from staff)
- Dress code
- Opening of new staff parking lot

I highlight it if a motion is required, just so he doesn't forget.  Some Chairs are good at that, while others are not, so it will depend on the Chair you are working with, but it doesn't hurt.

My boss will tell me things he wants on the annotated agenda throughout the weeks and days leading up to the meeting.  The day before the meeting I then print the Chair's annotated agenda and take a copy with me as well. 

The annotated agenda is also helpful for me to refer to when I am typing up the minutes.  Since I know what he is planning to talk about, I am one step ahead of the game when I draft the minutes.