Author Archives: Gwen Hester

What You Need to Know About Administrative Hiring Trends

 

As time and technology both march forward, you need to be sure that both your soft skills* AND your software skills** are at a sought-after level by potential employers—that when employers review your capabilities and experience, they find both skill sets highly desirable!

In a recent article in which Brandi Britton, district president of OfficeTeam, was interviewed by Certiport, she emphasized certain trends that administrative professionals need to keep in mind both for current and future career prospects.

Overwhelmingly, managers are aware that administrative professionals are important to the success of the managers of these companies. Consequently, and as Britton summarized this point, she noted that, “Employers are looking for support staff who are adaptable and can help with projects beyond their traditional job descriptions.”

Administrative professionals must be able to demonstrate their ability to save their bosses time without compensating quality. The old adage “time is money, and money is time” has never been truer!

Administrative professionals also must demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively and professionally with internal and external groups. Highly-developed verbal and written communication skills are essential to progressing up the career ladder.

Britton also indicated that it is essential for administrative professionals who want to emphasize their proficiency with the most widely-used office productivity software—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access—to demonstrate they are proficient by showing proof—by passing the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exams and thus earning the accompanying certifications!

She also pointed out that job advancement as well as the possibility of salary increases are two good reasons to work towards the goal(s) of passing one or more of these MOS certification exams. They are your proof that you are indeed knowledgeable and proficient in the given software application(s).

Brandi Britton closes her Certiport interview by leaving readers with some great advice for administrative professionals who are looking for employment in today’s job market. You can click on this link and then scroll down to watch that video.

If you are interested in getting more information on how you can get your Microsoft Office skills to a proficient level; or if you want to know how you can get your MOS Certification in one or more MS software applications, let Richland College’s BOSS program help you get the answers to these and other questions.

Question 1: I use Word and Excel on a daily basis at work, but how can I determine if I already know enough about the software to just go ahead and take one of the MOS exams without having to take any classes or training?

Answer 1: Because Richland College is an authorized MOS testing center, you can contact us at 972-238-6215 for more information on purchasing a testing voucher and then scheduling and taking the specific MOS exam here at Richland.

It is, however, strongly suggested that you click on your chosen software application link below and then analyze whether you feel you are proficient in all of these objectives for the application AND that you can complete the scenario tasks in a timed situation.

These objectives are the official Microsoft objectives for which individuals are expected to demonstrate their proficiency when taking the timed MOS certification exams.

MOS Access 2016 Objectives

MOS Excel 2016 Objectives

MOS Outlook 2016 Objectives 

MOS PowerPoint 2016 Objectives

MOS Word 2016 Objectives

Question 2: How involved are the BOSS Microsoft Office classes?

Answer 2a: The software specific BOSS classes are designed to provide you with comprehensive knowledge and skills development in basic, intermediate, and some advanced software features. The software is learned via presentation, hands-on assignments, tests, and software simulation training/testing of the MOS testing environment.

Answer 2b: The BOSS program offers specific software classes that are dedicated to students learning the software applications at a proficient level and incorporating all of the official Microsoft objectives through textbook tutorials and assignments, hands-on tests, and simulated software that provides further reinforcement through training and timed testing.

Question 3: Are these classes offered in more than one format, and how many times a week must I come to Richland’s campus?

Answer 3: These are great questions; and, yes, there are three learning formats available to you, as well as a special option:

(A) If you feel you need to have an instructor present the material and explain certain concepts and features to you on a face-to-face basis, we offer these courses on an “on campus” basis. Typically, the on-campus courses meet twice a week. Some sections may be offered on a flex-term basis.

(B) If you feel comfortable taking the classes remotely (you still have full access to your instructor) and your work/personal schedule make it difficult for you to physically attend on campus, then online is the format you want. The online sections include the same content, and you have electronic access to your instructor to answer questions that you may have about features, content, etc. You don’t have to come to campus.  Some sections may be offered on a flex-term basis.

(C) If time or transportation to campus is a big issue for you, but you still feel you need to interact face-to-face with your instructor, you might want to consider the hybrid format. You meet once a week on campus for the presentation of material, and your assignments are submitted electronically.

(D) Special Option: If, at any time, during the course you feel confident enough to take the MOS exam early and you do indeed pass the exam, you will receive an automatic B in the class without having to complete any remaining assignments, tests, etc. This option rewards you with earning college credit AND MOS certification early!

Question 4: If I decide to take more than one of these BOSS software classes, can I apply these credits towards some type of certificate?

Answer 4: Absolutely, there are three academic entry points that may interest you: the BOSS program’s (1) Software Application Specialist certificate, (2) Administrative Specialist certificate, or (3) Executive Assistant associate degree.

Question 5: I’m not sure I have the most up-to-date version of Microsoft Office on my home computer. Will I need to purchase the latest version?

Question 5: If you are already a student (or planning to become a student) at any of the Dallas County Community College District’s colleges (Richland is one of the seven colleges), then you will be able to download the latest version of Office 365 for free! Office 365 includes the software applications listed above and as well as others (such as OneNote, Skype, and Publisher).

In conclusion, let Richland’s BOSS program help you to maximize your potential in terms of your soft skills, your software skills, and your future career goals–enhance/acquire these skills at an affordable price!

You can get more details by visiting our website at https://www.richlandcollege.edu/boss

Richland College, which is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road, offers online, on‑campus, and hybrid courses in flex-term and full semester formats. For more information email RichlandBOSS@dcccd.edu or call 972‑238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

*Soft skills have been defined as those behaviors and qualities that lead to satisfactory or above-satisfactory interaction with others such as communication (listening, writing, speaking), collaboration and teamwork, critical and creative thinking, leadership, self-management and initiative, social responsibility, etc.

** Software skills demonstrate an individual’s knowledge of and proficiency in computer technology software. Proficiency with such technology greatly assists with the management and successful completion of office tasks and managing data effectively and efficiently on a time and output basis.


WRITING TO WIN: Meetings and the Minutes that Represent Them

At any time in your academic or professional life, you may be called upon to keep a record of a meeting. Meetings can occur on the job, at school, in the community center, even in your home. They are a tool for any organization–be it a committee, work group, project team, or advisory council.

In the classroom, this could be a group project that might require the members to keep track of discussions and activities as they march down the road toward a final product. In the workplace, it could be a project management meeting. Minutes are a chronicle of what happens in meetings.

What are minutes exactly? They do not mark the passage of time. Minutes are a record of key points discussed during a meeting. Keeping a record of what takes place in a meeting has several purposes:

  • Minutes provide information that can aid in future deliberations.
  • An accurate account of the meeting provides background for members who could not attend.
  • Having accurate minutes can serve as reminders of assigned tasks to the members.
  • Minutes capture document items in a proposed action plan.

MEETING MINUTES MUST ALWAYS BE….

  • Accurate
  • Clear and comprehensive
  • Objective in tone

MEETING MINUTES SHOULD…

  • Never record emotional exchanges that will spread negative light on the attendees. Meeting minutes should objectively record discussed business in a neutral manner.
  • Not interpret. They should only report.
  • Never veer away from the established agenda. This can make the reporting difficult. If this occurs, never be reluctant to ask the person leading the meeting to slow down or clarify what the unintended detour means.

MEETING MINUTES MUST BE…

Presentable–Meeting minutes are always distributed to the attendees and at times senior leaders.

  • Take care to write your document as if the CEO of the company, the president of the university, or the head of whatever organization is on the distribution list.
  • Therefore, you should adhere to all the rules of business writing. If you use a template in a word processing program, make sure the basic content areas are addressed. Templates are good in that you can use them on site at the meeting if you have a lap top. This will prevent you from having to transcribe the minutes later.

BASIC CONTENT AREAS FOR MEETING MINUTES

These are some areas that should be included in your document:

Date and Time

Type of Meeting

Meeting Called By Note Taker

Members Present

Decisions on Agenda Topics:

New Business

Discussion Items

Items accepted or rejected

Future Action Items and Owners

Next Steps

Next Meeting Date and Time

GUIDELINES FOR NOTE TAKING

  • Always write the minutes directly after the meeting. Do not rely on your memory. You will inevitably leave information out or misinterpret what you thought was discussed.
  • Pay attention and take good notes if you do not have a laptop template.
  • Make the minutes readable. Use headings and lists. Write them clearly and succinctly.
  • Stay away from personal commentary. Remember, do not interpret the proceedings. Record objectively.
  • Record all agenda items, action items, who owns action items, and any conclusions.

GUIDELINES FOR THE FINISHED DOCUMENT

  • Do not forget to list and distribute the document to all of those who attended the meeting.
  • Manage your tone. Do not write your personality into the document.
  • Keep your document free of grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Format your document appropriately with the proper content headings, margin settings, font size and style if you do not elect to use a template.
  • Keep the font size to 12-point, the style to a conservative Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri.

For some expanded discussions on effective business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:  Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets   Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2016.

This guest article was contributed by Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., on how to improve your writing skills and behavior. Dr. Murcherson is a faculty member in the School of World Languages, Cultures, and Communications (English & Humanities) at Richland College in Dallas.

If you want to improve your communication skills or learn/update your computer software skills, consider taking a Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) course at Richland College. Richland College, which is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road, offers both online and on-campus courses in flex-term and full semester formats. For more information email RichlandBOSS@dcccd.edu, or call 972‑238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office 365***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a free version of Microsoft Office 365  for Windows (or the Mac version) which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote.


Essential Tips to Help You and Your Team with Collaboration Projects

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you discovered that more and more of your work tasks involve collaborating with others?

As technology and the accompanying tools evolve, employers are finding it more beneficial to have their workers “come together” and to share ideas and materials for project development.

The Australian-based company INS (acronym for In No-one’s Shadow) has focused much of its efforts on preparing workforces for the future, which includes keeping current employees updated as well as helping companies keep their employees moving towards the future. Although INS is based in Australia, its outreach is global, which means the advice offered on collaboration can be used by all.

Below are several tips from a May 2016 INS article to keep in mind for your collaboration projects. You can click this link to read the entire article.

  • Understand the Bigger Picture—mentally move beyond your immediate group and role, and look at the larger outcome of why this project is important.
  • Clarify the Objectives—if everyone is “not on the same page,” the project may wind up going nowhere. Make sure the objectives are clearly stated and that everyone understands these objectives. As stated by INS, “…clarify whether all stakeholders and group members have the same objectives, and are working through any differences…”
  • Agree on Roles and Leadership—early discussions on and the identification of leadership and the other roles will make it easier to move forward on the project.  It is also important to establish accountability as it is connected to the various roles.
  • Know the Boundaries—just as accountability is important, it is equally vital for each person to know boundaries for themselves and others and to have these boundaries respected.
  • Develop an Ecosystem, not an ‘Egosystem’—remember, it’s about the successful completion of the project and not about someone grandstanding. Being a good listener (this goes for all group members) is essential.
  • Value Diverse Input—keep an open mind and realize that everyone’s contributions to the discussions and efforts should be appreciated.

If you want to improve your communication and collaboration skills, consider taking the BOSS program’s POFT 2312 Business Correspondence and Communication at Richland College.

Richland College, which is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road, offers both online and on-campus courses. For more information email RichlandBOSS@dcccd.edu, or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office Pro Plus***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a free version of Microsoft Office Pro Plus (or 2011 on the Mac) which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote.


Writing to Win: Deliver What You Promise

WRITING TO WIN:  Deliver What You Promise

Delivering what you promise is crucial in the workplace. It not only reinforces your success, it also bolsters your trustworthiness. It is important to understand that delivering what you promise is a concept that applies to employee and employer. So, it is not enough to understand what you need to do to keep your promises. You must also understand what your employer needs to do to keep their promises. Making good on commitments is a golden rule.  Not making good can create adverse effects for the employee, the employer, and business clients as well.  Altogether, the overall well-being of your company can be threatened.  So, let’s take a brief look at how you can keep your promises, and how employers should keep their promises to you.

BUT…

HOW EMPLOYEES CAN KEEP THEIR PROMISES:

It seems as if there is more pressure on an employee to deliver than an employer. It’s certainly plausible given who has the most power. Clearly, the employer appears to be in that position because we don’t want to be fired for poor performance.  So, the pressure is indeed on. Hanging on to a paycheck and benefits is major motivation when it comes to committing to things that may not be possible.

  • Don’t Promise Unrealistic Delivery Dates – Realize your constraints. Present realistic deadline dates for yourself and your team. Yes, being an independent contributor is great because you feel you are the master of your own destiny and are not dependent on others. But what if you are a member of a team? You cannot always predict who will complete tasks according to the schedule. You cannot always predict when you can complete tasks given ‘life circumstances’ that may pop up.
  • Be Realistic when it Comes to the Burdens of Workload– Sometimes job responsibilities change, workload increases. And as I said earlier, employers sometimes underplay the real demands of a job. In either case, most people feel they can keep up regardless. Be thoughtful and above all, be honest with yourself and your manager.  Do not commit to fully satisfying the demands of a position if it is not possible. Voice your concerns so that you can avoid being perceived as over promising and under-delivering.

HOW EMPLOYERS CAN KEEP THEIR PROMISES TO YOU:

Most of us like to believe our employer will always follow through on assurances he or she has committed too. But sometimes this is not always the case. So, it is important to be aware of fundamental promises between employer and employee.

  • Employers Should Never be Biased when Granting Promotions – This is absolutely not supposed to occur. It compromises not only ethical principles, but practically speaking, customary human resource directives. And violating these directives can put the company at risk for civil suits given equal protection.
  • Employers Should Always Be Truthful about Job Responsibilities – Remember the old saying, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’? In some cases, if the pressure to fill a position is too great, necessity could entice an employer to stretch the truth when it comes to the realities of workload in a particular position.
  • Employers Should Never Allow Special Privileges to a Few – Seniority and long-time friendships should not influence favors and privileges in a non-union environment. Still, this can occur. An employer or manager given the right circumstances may over promise that he or she will not be partial to specific employees, but may not keep that promise.

WAYS TO AVOID AND RECOVER FROM OVER PROMISING:

  • Be honest with yourself before making a commitment on delivery dates with your client, or workload responsibilities with your employer. Can it be done?
  • Set realistic expectations with your client and employer.
  • Take ownership if you fail to meet expectations. If you are part of a team, do not place the blame on other members. This is counter-productive and will cast a negative light on you.
  • Communicate Quickly and Honestly. If you can see that you are not living up to promises or delivery dates, do not wait until recovery is not possible. As soon as you see the ‘danger signs’ either in your general workload, scheduled date to roll out a product or solution, SPEAK UP.

For an expanded discussion on business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

If you want to develop or upgrade your skills to help you in today’s job market, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support program at Richland College. You will have a wide selection of courses (offered online and face-to-face) from which to choose. These courses range from basic keyboarding, computer literacy, administrative office procedures, business communications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access (includes preparation for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam**) etc. These courses can all lead you towards a college-credit certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree.

Richland College is in northeast Dallas and located at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office 365***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office 365, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote, which can be used on up to 5 devices.

Handy Tips for Linking Outlook and OneNote 2016 Together That Can Make Your Meetings More Efficient!

Do your responsibilities include planning meetings for yourself with (or for) others?

Let Microsoft’s Outlook and OneNote help you to plan these meetings, to develop agenda items, to assign tasks, and to stay in contact with key people all along the way.  

Tip 1: Create Agenda Items in OneNote.

While you are in OneNote, you can develop your agenda items from background materials and supporting information. OneNote is great for storing (and importing) detailed information from other sources such as the Internet, Word files, Excel files, PowerPoint, etc., as you continue to plan and develop the content for your meeting. If you need to share and get input from others, the OneNote Share feature comes in very handy during the preparation phase. You also have the option of emailing a OneNote page to a colleague.

Tip 2: Create Group(s) with Attendees in Outlook

If you meet with a group of individuals on a regular basis, you will want to create a group in Outlook that includes these individuals so your emails go out to them on a group basis. You can also easily keep track of who will be attending the meeting

Tip 3: Manage Your Calendar in Outlook

You can show others your availability for upcoming meetings and specify the range of dates and your availability type—busy, free, tentative, etc. The image on the left shows several options for viewing this information and whether you want to include details. Depending on you and your groups needs and wishes, you can also create group calendars that can be shared and emailed so that everyone is informed.

Tip 4: Take Meeting Notes in OneNote

Once your meeting begins and minutes need to be taken, you have two great OneNote options—if you have a laptop (or tablet) that supports handwriting conversion, you may want to use the Draw feature to write down the key points from the meeting. However, if your tablet doesn’t support “inking”—Ink to Text, you can still use your tablet to write down your minutes and then use a Windows PC with OneNote to convert the handwriting to text.

And you have yet another option, which is to record the minutes using the Audio feature (also includes a Video feature) in OneNote and is available on laptops. If you choose this option to capture your minutes, be sure you have a compatible microphone (and/or camera) for your laptop. Note: The OneNote app for tablets (iPad and Android) also allows you to record audio and video.

Tip 5: Follow Up on To Dos and Tasks in Outlook and OneNote

After most meetings, there is typically some follow up to be handled or task assignments made to various individuals. Use Outlook to assign specific tasks to individuals and review the progress on task completion. If you created your task assignments in Outlook, you can easily put this information in OneNote and vice versa. However, the one drawback, at this point in OneNote, is that note tags created in OneNote don’t show up in Outlook—though I’m sure Microsoft must be working on getting this feature off “the wish list” and granted!

If you want to learn how to increase your productivity and efficiency, consider taking an online course on Outlook and/or OneNote in the Business Office Systems & Support program (BOSS) at Richland College. The Outlook 2016 course is 7½ weeks (listed as POFI 1104-83438). This course also includes preparation to take the MOS certification exam for Outlook 2016. The OneNote 2016 course (POFI 1104‑83448) is also being offered online for 7 ½ weeks. Click this link for more details on dates for both courses.

Richland College is in northeast Dallas and located at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.
***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office 365***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office 365, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote and can be used on up to 5 devices.

Wanted: Top-Flight Administrative Professionals Who Want to Grow with Their Companies!

499171549_aYes, today’s employers understand that not only are talented, highly-skilled administrative professionals assets to their companies but that they are also essential to the competitive success of these companies!

Over the years, the role of the administrative professional has changed dramatically, and the future shows that people who work in this capacity will continue to see changes in terms of duties and expectations.

In a 2015 joint research project conducted by Office Team and IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals), it was found that the skills most valued by employers and needed by administrative professionals include the following:

Time Management

The ability to maximize tasks effectively and efficiently is highly valued and desired. In fact, top-flight professionals are not only expected to manage their own tasks and time but also to manage the schedules of those whom they support—this may include team members, managing supervisors, and executives. Multi-tasking takes on a whole new meaning, but it goes with the turf for those who are truly successful in the art of task/time management.

Technical Skills

595140878_cBeing highly competent in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint—having your MOS certification in one or more of these applications—will go a long way in convincing a potential employer of your productivity capabilities.

Knowledgeable in layout and design—Microsoft Publisher for basic design (for more advanced projects, consider Adobe InDesign or Photoshop) can assist you in making your output look professional.

Collaboration and knowledge of databases—collaboration packages such as SharePoint are highly valued by companies as a way of housing company content and sharing this information within and among work groups. Other packages that are used by work groups for sharing (and by individuals) on projects include OneNote and Evernote. Your ability to work with databases such as Access and FileMaker Pro can only add to your attractiveness.

Social Media

Managers have increasingly turned to their admins in order to stay up-to-date on company social media interaction with customers, clients, and others. Knowing how to use social media professionally is now expected. Be sure you have a professional acquaintance with sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram; and know their role and how to use them as business tools.

 

170463151_eFinally, and according to Matt Krumrie, those skills that have become known as “soft skills” and that include excellent communication skills (written and verbal), outstanding tact and diplomacy when working with others, and strong critical-thinking skills are indispensable. These soft skills “round out” what goes in to becoming and staying a top-flight administrative office professional!

 

 

If you want to develop or upgrade your skills to help you in today’s job market, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support program at Richland College. You will have a wide selection of courses (offered online and face-to-face) from which to choose. These courses range from basic keyboarding, computer literacy, administrative office procedures, business communications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access (includes preparation for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam**) etc. These courses can all lead you towards a college-credit certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree.

Richland College is in northeast Dallas and located at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office 365***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office 365, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote, which can be used on up to 5 devices.
Sources:
1.  Krumrie, Matt (2016, July 7) What to Look For In A Great Administrative Assistant. Retrieved from  https://www.ziprecruiter.com/blog/what-to-look-for-in-a-great-administrative-assistant/
2.  Office Team (A Robert Half Company) and IAAP (2015) How to Hire All-Star Administrative Professionals and Maximize Their Potential. Retrieved from https://www.roberthalf.com/officeteam/office-of-the-future-how-to-hire-all-star-administrative-professionals-and-maximize-their-potential

 


WRITING TO WIN: MANAGING EXPECTATIONS IN BUSINESS WRITING

10-09-2016_aIt would be a wonderful thing to know exactly what people expect of you over and above your duties and responsibilities on the job.  You’d know exactly what to do to meet these additional expectations in your day-to-day performance. Being that the probabilities are high that most of the population cannot read minds, you must devise other ways to manage the expectations of your audience, namely, your colleagues, managers, or key stakeholders.

This is the third installment discussing key considerations for effective business communication. We’ll call this one, managing the expectations of audience. Or, as it is stated: Consider the Audience.

WHO IS MY AUDIENCE? 

You already know your audience will either be your colleagues, managers, or key stakeholders. Now, you must learn to write TO their beliefs, needs, and expectations in a way that will ‘win the day’.  That is, the means by which you can accomplish the goals laid out in your report, proposal, or executive summary.

Your Goal Should Be a Simple One, SUCCESS:

  • The acceptance of your proposed solution to a problem
  • The acceptance of your proposed improvement to a process
  • The acceptance of the progress you have made in a key on-going project.

HOW CAN I KNOW THEIR EXPECTATIONS?

  • Be aware of the project’s or division’s success objectives. These are specific things that must be achieved to demonstrate success in your department.
  • Be diligent on the job. Keep your ears open, stay informed, and engaged in the workplace.

HERE’S HOW MANAGING EXPECTATIONS WORKS

If you want to convince your manager to give you a shorter work week for the same pay, you’ll need to understand why he/she wouldn’t want to give you a shorter work week even though you’ll be working the same hours. In other words, you must figure out what she believes on the subject of shorter work weeks.  This is where you begin to make assumptions or guesses about her feelings on the subject of shorter work weeks.  When you begin to make these assumptions or educated guesses, you begin to write to the needs of your audience.

11-07-2016_bHERE’S AN EXAMPLE

You are a pharmaceuticals warehouse supervisor. Keeping track of inventory is an obvious priority. You know that inventory levels have been inaccurate in the last two accounting periods. You want to propose a solution to the problem, but before you present a ‘proposed plan’, you must try and figure out the expectations of your manager with regard to this problem. In short, you present your plan in such a way as to address what YOU THINK his beliefs and expectations may be given the current shrinkage problem. When you begin to make a mental list, it may look something look this if you were to write it down.

11-07-2016_cWALK A MILE IN ANOTHER PAIR OF SHOES

The Director of Corporate Logistics distributes a monthly newsletter that highlights shrinkage and how it decreases company profits. You know your manager keeps a close eye on this issue and measures warehouse shrinkage monthly, then reports this to corporate logistics. You also know that your manager constantly talks about adding more technology and wants to be noticed by the Director of Logistics. You also know that your facility manager would like to avoid hiring more security personnel.

11-07-2016_dTHEN PRESENT YOUR SOLUTION

This will be the first paragraph in your proposal

Based on last month’s warehouse inventory, there has been an eight percent increase in shrinkage. Our monthly sales figures do not support this high level of ‘missing’ merchandise. Nor can we afford to hire more security guards. Therefore, I would like to recommend a technological upgrade in our present security system. It will help us accomplish our goals without increasing payroll.

11-07-2016_eWRITING TO WIN THE END GAME

When you have a strong idea of what may be going on in the mind of your audience, you will have a strong idea of how to sell your idea. This is the same as building a strong persuasive document. A persuasive document is an argument. And building a good argument starts with creating the foundation upon which it rests. This foundation is the need to know your audience which brings us back to the three key considerations in effective written business communication.

REMEMBER: To Write Effectively

  • Consider the Length
  • Consider the Data
  • Consider the Audience

For an expanded discussion on effective business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that   Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

If you want to develop or enhance your business communication skills, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) program at Richland College.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote. You can install this software on up to 5 devices.


Texas Instruments Administrative Assistant Job Opening

Texas Instruments is looking for someone who possesses great organizational skills and who can act in the capacity as a highly proficient administrative support person.

Click the following links to get more information about careers at TI and, specifically, to get a detailed job description for this Administrative Assistant opening.

Thank you, Texas Instruments, for sharing this information with our Richland BOSS Program!


Minding Your International Manners—Are They Culturally Correct?

10-31-2016-56371282If you have to travel overseas for your company, you need to be sure that your international manners are correct according to the culture of the country you are visiting. The last thing you want to do is to offend or insult the people and the culture of the host country.

Ashley Rossi of SMARTERTRAVEL has identified 10 key gestures/behaviors, by country, that should be avoided when visiting these international spots.  Remember, what may be considered as perfectly acceptable and normal in the United States may be construed as rude or insulting to those in other countries.

Gesture/Behavior

Off Limits In

Using the “OK” Hand Symbol

Brazil, Turkey, Venezuela, and France – This gesture is considered vulgar in some of these countries, and at the very least, insulting in other places.

Tipping

Can you believe it? Well, in some countries—Japan, South Korea, China, France, and Italy—tipping is a sign of rudeness, or you at least run the risk of implying that the owner doesn’t pay his or her employees an adequate salary.

Keeping Your Shoes On

If you are entering a temple, someone’s home, or restaurant, or hotel in many Asian countries, your shoes are best left at the main door! Ms. Rossi also advises that the toe of your shoes should face the door. Specifically, take your shoes off in Japan, Hawaii (Yep! One of our own states), South Korea, China, Thailand, and the South Pacific.

Spitting in Public

Actually, this should be outlawed everywhere, but apparently it’s okay in some spots in the US. If you go abroad, however, don’t spit in public in Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong. Ms. Rossi brings up another important point on ignoring these sanitation customs—you can be fined for spitting in public in these countries as well as fined for NOT flushing a public toilet, for sneezing and littering. Think Green, folks!

Blowing Your Nose in Public

Another closely related behavior to the one described above is blowing your nose in public, and that includes restaurants. This behavior is a “no-no” in China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and France. One more tidbit—don’t display a handkerchief in public.

Sitting in the Back of a Cab

Remember, you are not in New York or Chicago! If there is room in the front of the cab vehicle and you choose to sit in the back in Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, China, Ireland, and Scotland, you will be viewed as Somewhat Rude.

Eating With Your Left Hand

Having ambidextrous ability is not necessarily smiled upon in India, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Africa. Why, you might ask? Well, many of these cultures embrace communal eating or eating with your hands. As such, there are strict rules—the right hand is for eating, and the left hand is “going to the bathroom.” What are we “lefties to do”?

Using Your Hands to Eat

Well, leaving those countries and regions that embrace eating with your hands, if you visit the following countries, observe the rule of using eating utensils for EVERYTHING, if you go to Chile, some parts of Europe, and Brazil. According to Ms. Rossi, you need to use a fork and knife on hamburgers, French fries, and even pizza!

Patting Someone on the Head

No, not even babies! Because the head is considered sacred and the highest point of the body, avoid patting anyone on the head in any country that is prominently Buddhist. These countries would include Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Laos.

Smiling at a Stranger

To avoid being considered rude, don’t make long eye contact with people while you are in South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia. Remember, smiling is considered an intimate gesture in these cultures. As a stranger, you don’t know the individuals, so your glances need to be short, unemotional, and discreet.

If you want to improve your communication skills or learn/update your computer software skills, consider taking a Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) course at Richland College.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu  or call 972-238-6215.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote, which can be used on up to 5 devices.


Writing to Win: Consider the Data

10-09-2016_aWRITING TO WIN:  THE ART OF DETAIL

If you asked a room packed full with one-hundred college level sophomores, what is the value of detail?  What do you think would be the response? But let’s make this more interesting. Ask those same college sophomores what is the value of detail if their political science final exam will consist of only three essay questions? Chances are you would get a highly respectable response to the value of detail.  No doubt, you would more than likely hear shouts of words, words, and more words.

If you asked a room packed full with one-hundred investment bankers, what is the value of detail? What do you think would be the response? Again, let’s drill down to specifics. Ask those same investment bankers what is the value of detail when a three-billion dollar merger is resting on a conversion of stock plan? No doubt, you would surely hear shouts of numbers, numbers, and more numbers.

Words and numbers, numbers and words, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out ‘when a big lot of something’ is riding on a single document, to lead with all the support you can muster is the best way to go to meet your goal. But, remember the last post? It was all about length, correct? It explained the importance of decision making when considering length. Now, consider the importance of judging the quality and magnitude of detail.

10-24-2016_bTHE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS FOR BETTER OR WORSE

Just as length of a document is an important consideration, the same goes for detail. Let’s simplify and call it data or support.  Whichever word catches your attention, both mean the same.  The bottom line, data and support can work for or against you. Too much, too little, too weak, too irrelevant, too ambiguous, it all matters. So, pay close attention to the ‘kind’ of detail.

10-24-2016_cHOW DO I JUDGE WHAT IS THE BEST?

  • Think Quality
  • Think Usefulness
  • Think Relevance

Giving attention to these areas with which to judge your data will help you select the most effectual means to sell your solution to the problem or your idea for a better process.

10-24-2016_dBACK TO THE OFFICE

If you fancy yourself a great business writer, always consider the length of your documents. If you fancy yourself a shrewd business entrepreneur with aspirations of climbing the corporate ladder, consider the type of data that would be most effective in putting together a successful:

  • executive summary
  • proposal
  • progress report

10-24-2016_eTHE ART OF DETAIL AND HOW TO PRESENT IT

Figuring out how to present your data in the most compressive, concise, and readable way is an art.

 

THE HOW TO’S

  • Light on Text, Heavy on Visualization – Text is okay, but try to use PowerPoint Slides, Tables, Charts as much as you can. Too many words will lose your reader even if there are numbers embedded. This is where ‘quality’ ‘comes into play. Pick the best presentation mode so as not to distract your audience. Keep it simple and clear.  It is important to interpret what the numbers are saying, ‘sales are up 12% because…’  Communicate this with the ‘least’ populated visual that will get your point across.
  • Merge Your Data– You must always strive to be concise. Yes, detail matters, but you must be the judge of how much is too much. As the case with length, how long is too long? My best advice is to narrow to the most essential for making your case. This is where ‘relevance’ comes into play. For instance, ‘call volume is down 6% due to the month being two business days shorter than the prior month’. Gather all your data and judge it according to the most relevant, then eliminate the rest.
  • Scrutinize for Accuracy – Researching and gathering data is no simple task depending on your project or goal. It is easy to accumulate and accumulate. But as I said earlier, it must be relevant. Not only must your data be relevant, it must be correct. This is where ‘usefulness’ comes into play. Seek to find the most reputable sources or experts in the field to make your case. If your office setting is somewhat unique and you wish to make a more local case for change with local support, test it as you would a scientist. Opinions and general story telling of what transpires during the day in a certain situation is not strong. Be ready to observe, measure, and take detailed notes that can be translated into hard statistics.

Next time, we’ll look at the third and final consideration for effective business communication, ‘consider your audience’.

For an expanded discussion on effective business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that   Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

If you want to develop or enhance your business communication skills, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) program at Richland College.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote. You can install this software on up to 5 devices.