From New E-book, Working with Children of All Ages - Workplace Cliques

Thinking Inside the Sandbox
(An excerpt taken from my latest e-book, Working with Children of All Ages)

By the time we reach high school, there are some major changes happening. If puberty hasn't hit you by now, it will soon. Second, as official "teenage children", we are seeking those friendships that will later on end up defining who we are and how we behave. High school years are exciting and can be critical.

Remember what it was like when you met the person who would end up being a good friend even after high school? Now begins the formation of your "circle of friends" or what some may call a "clique." Cliques help mold us into the people we are today. It is human nature to want to belong, it’s a survival technique amongst animals, and gives us a sense of empowerment.  When we are around people who we feel are like us, can relate to use, and make us feel good about ourselves, it's like having your own paparazzi. Stereotypical cliques in high school were: the "smart ones" (they are called other names, for respect, we won't speak ill of the highly, intellectual crowd),  the popular girls and guys, jocks, cheerleaders, and the loners. The list goes on. The reality is that they grow up, get jobs, have families, and end up working with us.

It is not a far-fetched idea to relate high school to the workplace. They’re the same children, but in adult form.  Studies show that 43% of workers say that there are cliques in their office. Doesn't it feel like high school? The same group of people going out to eat lunch every day; the same people are standing by the water cooler talking about another co-workers outfit. Sounds like high school.

My mother would always tell me, "If it grow up in you, it's going to be in you," Old habits die hard. So why be surprised that your boss is acting like a jerk? Why wonder how could your co-worker spread gossip about others? Childlike behavior still lives in us, it's just hiding behind the adult. Doesn't Walt Disney base his success on the premise that there is a kid in all of us?

So, for the purpose of being having to work with the bullies, backstabbers, liars, "personal politicians," temper tantrum and other childlike behavior exhibitors, let's start thinking that the workplace is the "sandbox."  Phase 1. Thinking Inside the Sandbox is complete.

Now that we have changed our thinking, it's time to talk about how to deal with the little kiddies in the sandbox. Phase 2. Learn How to Play 

To be continued...

The Value in Taking a Break – You Do Have Time for That!

Get up at 5 a.m., take a shower, find something to wear, cook breakfast, wake the kids up, prepare their lunch, see them out the door, find your car keys, get to work…and that’s just the first 4 hours of the day. What are you going to be doing for the remaining 20 hours? Thank goodness breathing comes naturally, because if we had to think about it, we probably wouldn’t have the time to devote to yet another task. Perhaps you have heard the now famous cliché, I ain’t got time fo’ that!’ by Sweet Brown who was victim to a fire in her apartment complex?

The key is that we make time for things we want to make time for. I’ll bet during the workday you had time to surf the Internet, pay a bill online, or maybe even check your Facebook account to see what is today’s hot topic? Even though you had a project due at the end of the day. Well, I ‘m asking you to make time for one more thing – a pause. It’s important, and I can’t stress enough (unless you like stress), to take a breather, break, timeout, or just pause – call it a Self-Induced Intermission (SII pronounced 'Sigh'). You are voluntarily stopping and letting your mind catch up. This is the point of refocus.

Here are examples of Self-Induced Intermissions that you can do throughout the day:

The Best Resignation Ever

We are on the brink of another year when you are going to have to make serious, yet life-changing decisions- perhaps finding a new job. Recently, a client advised me of her decision to quit her job. She had been unhappy for a couple years and after a few sessions of confidence boosting, self-evaluation, and weighing outcomes, she decided it was time for her to seek employment elsewhere.
Lauren (name has been changed to preserve confidentiality) worked for 7 years as an administrative assistant for a medium-sized company in manufacturing. She was unhappy because, over the years she had witnessed the following:

·       Favoritism/Undeserved promotions
·       Nepotism
·       Poor decision making
·       Poor interpersonal behavior from leaders unaddressed by upper management
·       Limited to no communication from upper management

And the list goes on.  When she made the decision to leave, I was concerned about how she was going to end her tenure with the company – on a positive or negative note.  Rule #1: You never want to focus on the negative, always focus on the positive from your perspective not the company’s; this is really about you, not them. After brainstorming ideas regarding her behavior and attitude from now until she leaves, the following exit interview speech was devised:

It is with sincere regret that I must submit my resignation, effective two weeks from today. I am grateful for the opportunity to work for (name of company/supervisor); however, I feel that it is time for me to seek a different career path.  

I am fortunate to have learned so much during my time here and will confidently use those skills to my success.

Thank you for giving me the confidence I need to pursue my chosen path. Best of luck!

This brief speech does not say anything about the poor management decisions, behavior, or suggests any disgust as to why Lauren is leaving. It is always best to leave on a positive note by not pointing fingers or bashing anyone in particular (even though you may really, really want to and they may really, really deserve it). Rule #2: The key word is REFRAIN. Other important tips to remember when resigning are:

·       Leave with dignity. Tactfully say, ‘goodbye’ to your colleagues and leave out the door with your head held high. You are making a decision that you feel is for your own good, so act and look like it.

·       Give proper notice. This is a simple but often forgotten courtesy. We get so fed up with a job and immediately want to throw in the towel right then and there. Rule #3: Our reputation precedes us. Review your company’s policies on voluntary resignation, if two weeks’ notice is documented, you are obligated to give 2-weeks’ notice. So what you’re leaving, no sense in breaking rules now. This is the worst time to break rules, remember Rule #3.

·       Stay professional and productive. Just because you decide to leave, does not mean you should change your attitude. In fact, take it up a notch and go the extra mile on a project or prepare notes for your successor. Nothing looks better than a team player who’s leaving, and is still playing the game, giving 110%, until the game ends.

Company’s hate to see employees leave because it costs time and money to find replacements; however, sometimes there is no choice, especially when the employee has detached themselves. As administrative professionals, it is our job to remain professional; otherwise, we would be called ‘administrative un-professionals.’ Rules #1, #2, and #3.

Abnormal Behavior Works in the Workplace

Will a normal person please stand up? I asked this question during a presentation once in a crowded room of 125 attendees and everyone stood up. I was not surprised. We all think we are ‘normal.’ But what does ‘normal’ really mean? The Webster Dictionary defines normal as average, a typical state or condition; the usual. Would you like to rethink your answer now? Think about the context which ‘normal’ is used. Yes, we want a normal heart rate. Of course, we want a normal weight; but do you really want to behave as an average or usual person?

I was watching a scene on a television show of two co-workers having a private chat that turned into a heated conversation. They were friends as well as colleagues; one of them noticed that the other had become distant and less conversational and decided to confront him about his behavior. She started by saying, “I’m worried about you.”

“Why are you worried? I come to work, do my job, and go home. I give appropriate emotional responses and take social cues from behavior. I am being normal. Why are you worried?” Replied the slightly agitated co-worker.

I was halted by the idea that her co-worker thought that he was being ‘normal’ by performing those specific tasks. Here’s a question: Do you give appropriate emotional responses and take social cues from behavior? Be honest. These will help… 

When was the last time you overreacted to a situation at work that almost cost you your job, or at least a reprimand?

How did you react during your last performance review when your supervisor told you the areas you needed improvement in?

What did you do when your supervisor showed disapproval or yelled at you in front of other employees? 

Get the idea? Were you being ‘normal’ in any of those situations according to the agitated co-worker? In today’s society, it is not normal to give appropriate emotional responses and take social cues from behavior because so few people know how to do it! It’s actually abnormal.  It’s irregular, odd, and even strange. In fact, people view negative behavior as the norm. Is that a shocker? Why else is there so much poor leadership and these people still have jobs? Maybe that’s why the co-worker was worried, because he wasn't acting normal? Hmm….

It’s time to start behaving abnormally. Don’t live up to people’s expectations – be irregular! Here’s how:

Boss's Day - October 16 - Best Boss of the Year Contest

Who is the best boss?

Do you have a boss that goes above and beyond for their employees? Want to show your boss how much you appreciate their leadership? Make this Boss’s Day, October 16, a special one and nominate your boss for Best Boss of the Year and enter for a chance to win a lunch for you and boss (value $75) to any local restaurant and they will receive a certificate for Best Boss of the Year.  
Tell us about your supervisor and why he or she should win Best Boss of the Year. Post your response to this article and get entered to win.

The Best Boss and Appreciative Employee will receive:

  • $75 Gift certificate for the winner and their boss to local restaurant of their choice
  • Boss and employee will be interviewed by Elite Office Concepts and the  article will be posted on the Office Professionals Place blog 
  • The best boss will receive a Best Boss of the Year Certificate
  • The appreciative employee will receive an Employee Appreciation Certificate

Contest rules:

  • One post per department, per company.
  • Contest entry must state why the candidate is worthy of the Best Boss of the Year Award.
  • Entrant must be willing to want to have lunch with the winner
  • Winner will choose restaurant of choice. No cash value or refund for gift certificate.
  • Limit entry to 300 words.
  • Upon posting entry to this article, send an email to so that we can have a contact email address, just in case you are the successful entry.
  • Contest ends October 17, 2013. Winner will be announced on October 24, 2013.
Administrative professionals get a day in April, your day is coming. Here’s your chance to acknowledge the great leadership in your department.

Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery

Recently, an attendee approached me after a presentation I gave entitled, Supercharge your Self-Confidence and she was very upset. In tears, she said that she enjoyed my presentation and wished she could speak with confidence and be assertive like me. I was flattered and at the same time concerned that this caused her so much grief.

My response to this young woman was:

“I must admit I was not born with confidence; I had to learn from my mistakes, as well as the mistakes of others. I had to be open and honest with myself and realize that in order to achieve my goals I needed to change.”

Here’s how I implemented change:

Got a mentor. A mentor is someone who will be your co-pilot. Mentors provide advice and feedback along the journey until you reach your destination. They may give you feedback that is not so favorable, but that’s their role; respect the advice as “constructive comments.”

Joined professional development organizations. The best way to grow within yourself is to be around others with the same mindset. Nine years ago, I joined the IAAP, an organization for administrative professionals; this was the best decision I ever made because I learned many new skills, such as leadership and technology and met new acquaintances along the way. There are many other organizations out there, find one that suits you and get involved!

Practiced. Practice does make perfect and it makes you comfortable. Just like when you learn how to cook a new dish, wouldn’t you prepare it a few times after you learn the recipe? Once you learn the ingredients and have cooked the dish, you will add your own spice. Have you ever heard of the “spice of life?” What is your spice?

I asked her, “Are you willing to change?” She smiled, nodded her head slowly, and said, “Yes. I’m tired of feeling like people are walking over me.” Her tears of sadness became tears of joy because she accepted that it was time for a change and change is good when it’s necessary.

The first thing to do is to identify your mission, then you will be able to create goals based on what your life’s purpose. Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says, “If you don’t set your goals based upon your mission statement, you may be climbing the ladder of success only to realize, when you get to the top, you are standing on the wrong building.” You have to know what you want out of life, in order to get what you want in your life.

She thanked me profusely and said she would call me to setup an appointment to talk about her mission statement.

Happy 4th Anniversary to the Office Professionals Place!

Happy 4th Anniversary!
 It's the largest office party on the internet! 

The Office Professionals Place is celebrating 4 years of service for the most important people in the office - YOU!

For the entire month of August, we will be celebrating office professionals all over the world!

Post your funniest office party story or idea for a great party and win a chance to be featured on the Office Professionals Place blog! Oh yea, you will receive a special gift for your next office party - a $50 gift card to your favorite store or restaurant!

 Office Party Guidelines:
1 .RSVP. Like Elite Office Concepts on Facebook.
2. Attend the Party. Post your office party story or idea on this page. No duplicate posts allowed.
3. Invite your Friends. Tweet or Facebook your post and get comments.
4. Network. The post with the most comments WINS! The more the merrier! Comments from the Office Professionals Place personnel (Dewoun Hayes) are exempt from the contest.
5. Party responsibly. (no profanity, don't use real names, and be respectful).

  Let's party!

Thanks for keeping the party going!