31 January 2010

Taking the time to acknowledge someone and say thanks...

When I was young my Aunt Joyce would send me a birthday card each year and put a bit of money in it.  I so looked forward to those cards.  We were a large family and being noticed as an individual and special was rare so receiving these cards just made my day -- somebody was actually thinking of ME! 

It made quite an impact on me and now that I am an adult I have been sending birthday cards to my friends and family for years now, especially to the children in my life.  There is just something special about receiving a card in the mail.

Recently, someone contacted me through my blog to introduce me to an on-line card service.  No, it's not e-cards (I am not a fan of e-cards as one more e-mail cluttering up my Inbox is not a welcome thing), but these are actual hard copy cards that you can customize and send out with your own special message.  The cards are all made with recycled paper and you can even include a gift if you like and this company will send it off for you.  What a convenient way to send cards.

Recently I have been so busy at work that I just didn't have time to get to the card shop to buy my usual box of cards so I have been trying to catch up and send belated cards out.  When I tried this service, it was a great alternative for me.  I could still send the cards out in hardcopy, and since I could do it online it was convenient and reasonably priced.  The font is also in writing script (which you can also personalize to your own handwriting) so the personal message inside looks like it was handwritten.

The name of the service is SendOutCards and they have a variety of cards for just about every occasion and if they don't have what you want, you can customize your own card.  It is an American based company and I am in Canada, but the cards I sent were all received within a week.

What a neat idea for businesses too.  The art of saying thank you can sometimes get lost in our busyness, but here are some examples of times it would be nice to send a card from work:
  • To thank presenters who speak at your workplace. 
  • To thank an employee for showing initiative and going the extra mile.
  • To thank your boss for being supportive during a trying time.
  • To apologize and try to make things right.  Sometimes a card is a good icebreaker to start communication again.
  • To send to clients of your company.  This could include sympathy cards, thank you cards, birthday cards, congratulations on a promotion, a card to reconnect with a client you haven't heard from in awhile, or many other reasons.
I recently sent an admin assistant friend a card to acknowledge all the hard work she does every day and included a gift of brownies.  She loved it!  I sent another assistant a comical card about being stressed out at work.  We work in a very busy office so it was a nice surprise for her to receive it and helped put the stress of the office in perspective.

I don't often promote any businesses from my blog, but I thought this one was worth talking about.


23 January 2010

I gave at the office

Years ago when I was a child, I would canvass door to door with my sister for a charity for cancer research.  Many times we would hear, `My husband gave at the office`as a reason for not donating.  Whether they had or hadn`t I was never sure, but I know today that offices do fundraise for charities and workers are happy to participate.

Recently, with the Haitian earthquake disaster, a friend mentioned that one of the doctor`s at the hospital where she works was asking people to sponsor him in a swim for Haiti.  He raised over $1,000.  Another office raised almost $1,000 in a fundraising effort they organized.  The old adage `every little bit helps`, really does.  Imagine how much we could raise if everyone contributed in some small way from door to door, office to office and nation to nation.

As a new grandmother to a one year old, it breaks my heart to see the young children left without family and home.  It is so sad, because you know children so young have no idea what is going on.  All they want is to be taken care of and be loved by someone.

There was one particular group of orphan children that was brought to our attention by a Canadian news reporter.  These children, who are under five years old, were fending for themselves on the street because the orphanage collapsed.  But for the charity of an old woman who came to feed them, they had no one.

Please give as you are able for the care of the children of Haiti.  Agencies such as World Vision are on the ground now helping where they can.

16 January 2010

Calendar "ah ha"

I was participating in a Harvard sponsored webinar with my boss the other day.  The topic was on personal branding and they were making recommendations to executives on how to polish up their image.  I guess he thought I needed the help.

One of the things they recommended to executives was to use their electronic calendar to leave themselves reminders.  From a personal branding point of view they suggested that if you kept reminders then you would be seen as someone who is on top of things and nothing gets by you.  -- Wait a minute! The thought is good, but...that defeats the purpose of the Scheduling feature in Outlook.  If someone puts in a "birthday" or a "pick up the dry cleaning" reminder in their calendar as an all-day event, to those who are using the Scheduler, it will look like the person is busy for the day and in reality they may have the day open.  When you are checking through the Scheduler, it gives no details on the meeting, just that you are not free. 

I think if Microsoft asked me what I would like to see in an electronic calendar, I would suggest not to bother with the all-day event option.  Who notices that string along the top anyway?  Use that feature to set reminders (which everyone uses it for anyway).  How many times I have booked a meeting thinking the day was free, only to notice later that an all-day event was put in unnoticed at the top.

Another one I never use.  Does anyone know what all the assigned colours mean in Outlook without peeking?  If you block a time in your calendar in purple, unless I check the legend or know it by memory, I have no way of knowing what that colour means. For those who do use this feature, they get a little annoyed if we don't realize their meeting with the purple colour means the meeting is out of the office. Huh?

They really should have asked assistants for their input on what would be the best features to have to accommodate our hectic and fast-paced world of meeting scheduling.

10 January 2010

Introducing The Administrative Bloopers Blog

I started a new blog called The Administrative Bloopers Blog  When you have a moment come and visit me over there.  It won't affect this blog, it will still be going strong, but I wanted a place for everything else and it seemed the right fit.  Let me know what you think.

What ever happened to the "us" in Service?

I went to a grocery store recently and when I got to the checkout I had to pack my own bags.  Another time I was trying to find a full-serve gas station to fill up, but there was nothing to be found.  I had to wonder what do people with physical limitations do when they need to get gas?

I remember when self-serve gas stations first started.  The men loved it because they could get out and pump their own gas.  The incentive was you saved .002 cents a litre.  That was never enough to get me out of the car!  Now, there doesn't seem to be a difference in price at all, it is just common practice that we have to do it ourselves.  I travel far to try and find a full-serve station, but they are becoming extinct.

Recently, I bought a new laptop.  It was expensive,but when I brought it home I had to do all the work to get it up and running.  What is wrong with this picture?

The list can go on, but I think you get my drift.  What about in the office, are we asking our bosses to self-serve or are we providing quality administrative services?  Some of the younger bosses are certainly qualified and know how to do some things administratively, but is it an efficient use of their time and is it good job security for us?

One young boss told me that he was self-sufficient and didn't need assistance, but what I saw was someone doing more than they needed to.  I of course ignored him and went about providing the best service I could.  He loved it and I believe ended up doing his job better because of it.  We need to be assertive and show our bosses how much better they can function if the administrative jobs are taken care of by us.

Something to think about...