"Hacks" filter: white-collar office work
July 9, 2015 1:15 AM   Subscribe

What are your tips for being the kind of person who thrives and is well-liked in an office environment?

Apologies if this has been covered previously; in my search I couldn't quite find an exact match.

I am returning to the workforce after having a baby and previously worked in a role that didn't require a lot of teamwork. I am interested in corporate/white-collar environments and how certain people thrive, progress quickly, are well-liked by their colleagues, and generally understand how to navigate typical office-work challenges. I.e. people who are considered:

- professional
- likeable
- easy-to-deal-with
- productive and efficient
- able to can communicate with the most clarity and the least waffle
- able to anticipate and/or avert misunderstandings
- good at judging situations and figuring out the way through
- gracious and respectful

...and so on and so forth.

Please give me your tips on how to be one of these people. Thank you Mefites!
posted by reshet to Work & Money (36 answers total) 102 users marked this as a favorite
Refrain from personal opinions or stories about yourself. Truly.
posted by jbenben at 1:22 AM on July 9, 2015 [22 favorites]

Many items in this "ways to make your boss love you" article also apply to colleagues.

* Set realistic expectations about what you can deliver and when, and then deliver as promised.
* If you aren't going to meet a deadline, communicate early and often. Be transparent and honest about delays.
* Never treat colleagues like they're annoying or inconveniencing you by asking for something, even if you know that you can't (or won't!) give them what they want.
* Try to avoid temptation to complain about how busy you are. If you find that your to-do list is too long, be matter-of-fact about prioritizing, and don't be afraid to go to your manager for help with prioritization.
* When you get a request, repeat it back to the requester. "Just to be sure I understand, you'd like me to do X, and then email Bob when I'm done?" This helps set expectations and prevent misunderstandings.
* Before ending a discussion or meeting, summarize the decisions and action points out loud. This also helps prevent misunderstandings.
* If you often communicate with other teams over email and/or text chat, try to also spend time talking to people from those teams in-person and/or over voice chat. This can help you establish a more personal connection, and that almost always makes future text-based communications go more smoothly.
* Of course, never gossip about colleagues or management, even when it's tempting! A self-effacing smile and an "Oh, I don't want to talk about someone when they're not here" can go a long way.
posted by neushoorn at 2:12 AM on July 9, 2015 [13 favorites]

Walk the job: don't just send emails to people - go and find where they work and say hello. All offices have cliques; those who can work across them properly do well.
posted by rongorongo at 3:02 AM on July 9, 2015 [8 favorites]

+1 for the tip about not relying exclusively on email/IM. Voice really helps establish you as a person and colours the "tone" that comes over in email. It is also a quick way to cut through email chains and de-escalate situations where people are getting a bit heated.
I would add: be polite but direct about what you need from colleagues and what you can and can't do yourself. Don't apologise or hedge in advance. Try to build a bit of a personal connection with people, but if you are not sure whether you can be jokey or informal in a mail, always err on the side of "no".
posted by crocomancer at 3:03 AM on July 9, 2015

Keep your personal social life and your work social life separate insofar as possible. Do not derive personal meaning or personal worth from your work relationships. Do not strive to be "liked," it will hold you back. Strive to be well-thought of or respected. I strive to be like Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights. :)

Set boundaries. Go above and beyond the call of duty for work if/when the personal cost is negligible or neutral to you to do so, but do not make any really serious personal sacrifices in hope of a potential future reward. There is no guaranteed reward.

+1 Do not over rely on email. Use your phone, and talk to people in person. I don't mean fakey networking like asking them about their weekend or wishing them a pleasant day (people (especially Australians!!) see through that crap), but use your tone and body language to communicate as well as your words. Smile, be sincere, act confident, don't apologise unless necessary, thank people.

+1 Your key to medium- to long- term success will be working in an efficient, pleasant, business like manner across cliques, office politics and personalities. (See above re: keeping relationships professional).
posted by bimbam at 4:00 AM on July 9, 2015 [9 favorites]

*Be a good listener.
*Observe / watch how things are done before commenting on current practices.
*Don't go on and on about how this was done differently somewhere else. Usually there are Reasons things are done a certain way.
*When being given a task not just repeat to be sure, but also take notes while the person giving you the task is giving you instructions - this was something a manager explained to me many years ago: it inspires the supervisor with confidence to see you write it down. And I found that to be very true in some 20 years of office work. Even if you have a great memory, taking notes communicates you take the task serious.
*Take your own notes in meetings.
*Reserve judgement. Don't judge too quickly. Office dynamics, especially in small offices, can be tricky. You don't know the history, why certain people respond in certain ways that you may find rather odd. If you are replacing someone, you don't know the history of why the position became vacant, which will however often directly (and unfairly so) impact on how you are received. I found that to be one of the most tricky aspects . Listen, observe and reserve judgement.
*Volunteer for small things: make coffee, distribute minutes, etc
But don't overdo it - especially towards management. This can be interpreted rather negatively by your colleagues.
*Don't take sides quickly. In general it pays off to remain neutral and have a common ground with everyone. You don't know the alliances and may inadvertently step into a trap.
*Don't gossip.
*Be solution oriented.
*Keep complaining to an absolute minimum.
*Keep your private life to yourself (until you know colleagues well enough to share what you are comfortable with). Don't ask for details of private lives, unless the person volunteers them.
posted by 15L06 at 4:41 AM on July 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

Don't complain until you know the lay of the land.

This is a good point, but one I want to amplify: Don't complain about anything for your first two weeks. Not the job, not your spouse, not the crap coffee you get at a Starbucks near your house. No. Thing. You will be constantly forming first impressions in those first couple of weeks. Corollary: Never talk about problems without talking about potential solutions, even if you're not talking to the person who could solve that problem.

Align your body toward who's speaking to you and who you're speaking to. It's a small, weird thing, but it absolutely works to make them believe you're focused entirely on them.

When someone's talking to a group, nod and smile. They'll focus in on you and you'll help them keep their momentum.

Sometimes people will not like you for reasons that are totally out of your control. Just let them, and don't feed into their drama.
posted by Etrigan at 5:15 AM on July 9, 2015 [16 favorites]

Welcome back to work! Are you in the same company or starting somewhere new? There's advantages to both in your situation which I'm sure you're aware of and have considered deeply.

There's lots of great advice here and hopefully I'm only repeating some of it

I don't know if this is your first baby or not, but if you're responsible for childcare pickup/drop off, those times can wreak havoc on a person who was previously free to come in early/stay late as the work required. You might be on a tighter schedule to get your stuff done on time. If “end of day” pre-baby meant “anytime before start of business the next day” you could work well into evening if necessary. That stuff will be harder now.

For me, staying late means negotiating with my husband to see if he's available to get to pickup on time. That isn't always possible so I need to set expectations upfront so I don't disappoint anyone by not doing what I've committed to do in the agreed-upon timeframe. I never commit to extra hours unless I know I can do them without causing hardship on my family. Sometimes that means being clear about what you're able to accomplish in a certain timeframe, sometimes that means taking work home (if you're able), or coming into work earlier the next day to get things done.

Everyone at work has a personal life so it's okay to set expectations up front, even if you worked differently pre-baby. It took me a long time to shake that guilt (and it still bubbles up from time to time). I now work as efficiently as I can to get as much done during the day as possible because I don't want to spend my evening catching up on work. (less Mefi during the day!)

When I set expectations I always try to frame them in a way that benefits the project and those working on it, versus how they meet my needs. My needs are important, but people care far more about the success of their project and their own needs.

Other things that help:

Don't act helpless: don't saddle your challenges on other team members because you don't know how to do something either everyone at your workplace should know, or it's something you think is beneath you but you don't have an assistant or subordinate to delegate it to. If you don't know how, figure it out or ask. If it isn't your responsibility, find out whose responsibility it is and how to get work done through them so you don't screw up their workflow

Keep your emails short. I struggled with this early in my career. I'd write out thoughtful, detailed emails that communicated information clearly and made people aware of any issues early. No one ever read them in full so it was like I said nothing. I'd reference earlier messages but then I just looked like a pedantic snot. Say less in each message and let a conversation happen rather than laying it all out at once.

Good luck with your re-entry into the workforce! The fact that you're thinking about this stuff means that you're probably thriving in your workplace more than you think you are.
posted by melissa at 5:56 AM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

A lot of things have been covered above so I leave you with two items:

1) Work to 100% of you abilities 100% of the time including helping colleagues who need help.

2) Bring the donuts every once in a while.
posted by AugustWest at 6:00 AM on July 9, 2015

Depending on the demographics or your workplace, you may be expected to come to the occasional social engagement outside of work if you want to be considered friendly and part of the team. It's also an ideal way to get information about your workplace - not nasty gossip or anything, just the normal behind-the-scenes politics of the office. It's going to be tough with a new baby, but you need to go to a couple of the first few get-togethers you are invited to, otherwise the invitiations will stop coming. Once you are getting invited as a matter of course you can go to fewer of them, but you need to get that social ball rolling. It also really helps to make sure you have some casual conversation topics in common with your team members. This can be sports teams (actually beneficial in this case if you can find someone who is a fan of your team's rival - plenty of good-natured trash talking opportunities), TV shows or movies (I find The Walking Dead is a decent show to follow that cuts across a lot of different demographics), or hobbies (gardening, homebrewing, yoga, etc).
posted by Rock Steady at 6:49 AM on July 9, 2015

* Never treat colleagues like they're annoying or inconveniencing you by asking for something, even if you know that you can't (or won't!) give them what they want.

^ This. Be positive, and if you can't achieve the outcome that they want, try to find an alternative solution. You don't have to be a "yes man", but you would know yourself, it's not fun to work with someone who's all "no, I don't think I can do that, *sigh*, OK I'll see what I can do..." Even if they do actually get it done, it's not that pleasant is it?

If you develop a reputation for being approachable then when people ask you for something you *really* can't do, they'll be more likely to think "OK, she really is busy" and not "that reshet, shirking work again".

Sometimes it's not enough that you do the work, you may also need to tell people that you're doing it or have completed it. Don't leave your manager (or anyone relying on you) wondering if s/he'll have to chase you up on that job from last week. Find a way to keep them updated - whether it's regularly scheduled meetings, email updates, or even a quick "I'll get Job X to you first thing tomorrow" as you wait for the coffee machine. Again, develop a reputation for being reliable, and then the one time you let something slide, it'll be written off as a blip rather than turning into a major incident.

Don't underestimate the simple power of being a nice, pleasant person to be around. Smile and say hi when you pass people in the corridors, be friendly, treat your colleagues as people, not production units or your own personal barrier to productivity. I don't think you need to be extra nice to admin staff (because you're treating everyone well!) but pay attention, because they often have the power to make your life significantly better or worse.

BTW, the advice in this thread is great advice for answering your specific question. Just bear in mind that the kind of person you want to be at work is not necessarily the person who gets the promotions/raises/best jobs & clients. But on behalf of your workmates thanks for being a good co-worker!
posted by pianissimo at 6:50 AM on July 9, 2015

Don't be grumpy or irritable because of things happening in your personal life - none of that is your coworkers' fault. Leave that stuff at the door.
posted by Aranquis at 6:58 AM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Admit it when you are wrong, in both objective and subjective cases. If you break something or do something incorrectly, either fix it or be willing help the person who has to fix it. If you make a judgement call and it turns out badly, acknowledge it to anyone that was affected, whether they agreed with your decision or not. It adds to your credibility to admit your mistakes.
posted by soelo at 7:29 AM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Strongly seconding the point about keeping emails short. That doesn't mean curt, but be aware that many many people won't read past the first couple sentences of an email. This used to drive me crazy but I have come to accept it. People don't need as much background as you think, and if they do they can follow-up. Including the recipient's name as a salutation and your name at the end can do a lot to keep your tone cheery and polite and avoid sounding curt even in a very short email.

My other thought might be a bit overly general but I've tried very hard over the last few years at my office to consciously consider what practical outcome I want to have from emails or other significant interactions. I struggle with a tendency to want the last word, so I try hard to think "Am I sending this email because I just want to prove a point? What do I imagine the recipient doing with this information?" If the answer is "ignoring it" or "suddenly seeing the light and acknowledging me as a superior human being" or even sometimes "doing nothing but remembering it for later" (will they really?) I delete the message without sending.

This is not to say I don't send the occasional well crafted ass-covering email or memo, which is its own art and sometimes necessary in any job.
posted by Wretch729 at 7:34 AM on July 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

Lots of good advice above. I'll add:

1) Never complain or be negative about anything without having first thought through some alternative solutions. Then do more than just offer those solutions to your manager. Offer to work to achieve the alternatives, and follow up on your offer.

2) If you're having an email or face to face conversation with person A, and that person keeps mentioning person B, go get person B or cc person B into the conversation (unless it's a sensitive client matter or similar). So many office misunderstandings can be averted by including all necessary people from the beginning. By doing this, you'll also become known as someone with integrity--someone who doesn't talk behind others' backs, someone who works toward solutions rather than gossiping/complaining, etc.

3) Consider making your to do list/work plan transparent to others beyond just upward weekly status reports. A Kanban board on your wall or cube whiteboard is a great way to do this without getting into the weeds of all your sub-tasks. Being transparent about the breadth and status of your work will quickly get you known as easy to deal with, productive, collaborative, and communicative.

4) As a fellow woman, I caution you against becoming the person who arranges all the parties or takes all the notes. Don't become the office mommy; you won't gain the right kind of respect. Some parties, some notes, some coffee is ok. Just not all the time.

5) Advanced office politics (e.g., managing up) are tricky. If you don't understand what's going on AND you don't know how to solve it, don't get involved at all. At least not until you've been there a while have a better lay of the land.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 8:06 AM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

N'th-ing "keep emails short". Among other things, this means quoting only the minimum text needed to establish context and putting your reply below the quoted text.

Use a subject line that tells people what the email is about. Your target audience is the person looking for this one message, a year from now, in a sea of others. "Re: RE: Re: Help" is a shooting offense.

Know your craft. If someone needs your knowledge, "teach them to fish". If you need to lean on someone else's expertise, set out to learn whatever it is for yourself.

Put effort into being a good explainer, and into being a good learner.

If you have a personal mobile phone, keep it on your person, off or on "vibrate" mode. If you use an audible ringer, keep it quiet and professional, and answer the damn thing. The jackhole down the hall leaves his phone on his desk then goes wandering around for hours at a time. His ringtone is ice-cream truck music interspersed with cricket chirps. Two words: "justifiable homicide".
posted by sourcequench at 8:24 AM on July 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

Reply to emails within 24 hours - sooner, if possible - even if it's just to say you don't have an answer yet, but will work on it.

Never hit "reply all" on an email unless you are absolutely certain EVERYBODY needs to read your reply.

Work backwards from deadlines for deliverables to include as much time as possible for any necessary higher-level reviews PLUS making revisions based on those reviews.

Hit your deadlines. Always hit your deadlines. If you can't hit a deadline, tell your boss AND anyone affected that you can't hit it, and let them know why. Let them know by email so you can document it, and also let them know in person or by skype or by phone or in some other real-time way, so you're sure they didn't miss your email.

PREP FOR MEETINGS. When you go to a meeting, know why you are there, know what you may be asked about, and be ready to talk about your area of expertise. Read the agenda, read any materials provided for the meeting. Know where your authority to say yes/no begins and ends. Don't be afraid to say you don't know - but don't be the person who ALWAYS doesn't know. Listen to everyone. Pay attention. Ask questions.

Don't be that person who never refills the copy machine.

Make a note of how people contact you most often, and return those contacts in kind. If a person is an email person, email them; if they're a phone person, call them; if they're an IM person, chat with them; if they're a drop-by person, drop by for them. People have favorite modes of communication, and are most comfortable sticking with them. (Caveat - I agree that you need to have at least a few voice/face interactions early on with the people you will work with the most. )

Brush up on your computer skills - particularly Microsoft Word and Outlook. Most white-collar offices are absolutely dependent on those two programs, and the more you know, the less you will look like an idiot.

Learn to speak clearly, concisely, and confidently.
posted by kythuen at 8:26 AM on July 9, 2015 [8 favorites]

Oh - and put your "ask" and your deadline in the first line of your email; any explanation can go below. This is because far too many people will stop reading a few lines in if they don't care or don't know what you need already.

"Hi, Jane.

Can you get me the Northern Widget Data by noon on Friday, July 10?

I'm completing the National Widget Report, and I need to send it to Kythuen by close of business Friday; if you can get me what I need by noon I'll have time to integrate your data..."

posted by kythuen at 8:30 AM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Figure out the other person's goal and speak directly to it, trying to help if possible. A surprising number of people instead use any excuse to rant about their current talking points.
posted by salvia at 8:57 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Respond to emails and return phone calls very quickly. People really value responsiveness.
posted by w0mbat at 9:46 AM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

- One of the best pieces of advice I ever got upon starting a new job: you'll notice a lot of things that are different from where you used to work, or that you think are done wrong, etc. Don't bring any of them up on your own for the first six months (if asked what you think about these things, be diplomatic). Instead, write them down. Once you've been there for six months, go through the list. Many things you will now at least understand why they are done that way, some you might have come to appreciate or respect. Maybe there will still be a few things that you think could be improved, and a sense of whether or not change is possible or wanted.

- Someone else already said this but it can't be said enough: respond promptly to emails/IMs/phone calls. Even if you don't have the information the person is looking for or can't do what they need done, people will appreciate a response.

- Each team/cluster will have different norms and ways of interacting. Learn to "read the room" so to speak. If a group you're working with keeps things businesslike, you should too. If they like to joke around, then joke around with them.

- Be as friendly as feels comfortable to you. Take interest in your coworkers as people, in a non-intrusive way. Take your cues from people: if someone has a picture of their kids on their desk, ask them about their family. If someone mentions a hobby, talk about that. Don't expect that your "work-friends" will necessarily be "friend-friends" but workplace buddies can make the workweek more enjoyable and there are studies showing that people who chat and are friendly with coworkers do better in the workplace.
posted by lunasol at 9:59 AM on July 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

As far as being likable, being funny is a good way to make people enjoy you being around, assuming you can do so without offending people.

I'll disagree with several posters about not sharing parts of your personal life and stories; it's important to not overshare. Most people want to know a little about the person that they're working with - have a few short, inoffensive, and interesting stories about yourself and your interests ready to tell. Just share slowly and appropriately.

People also generally like to be asked about themselves, so ask good questions and appear genuinely interested, and many people will like you. How to win friends and influence people is a classic short read on likability.
posted by Candleman at 10:02 AM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, and as for complaining about stuff - this is a fine line. I've worked in places where a bit of bitching is a way people bond, especially at happy hour. If you're the person who never has anything bad to say about anything, people may resent you or think you're being disingenuous. But during these kinds of bitch sessions, try to only complain about inconsequential things, and not around the people who are responsible for those things. So, like, complain about the buggy video conferencing system, but not around the IT support guy.

At the same time, there will often be a group of people in an organization or firm who bond almost exclusively by complaining, and get known in the organization as such. You don't want to be part of that group.
posted by lunasol at 10:04 AM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

- Agree with the advice to keep personal life separate. Sometimes difficult because most workplaces have people who have TMI problems and who expect reciprocation. That isn't to say never talk about your life, because you don't want to seem like a robot or a hermit, either. Keep personal stories brief, modest (no bragging about self, children, romance), and pleasant
- Humor can be a mine-field, avoid unless you know your audience well (I have seen jokes backfire so very badly for people)
- Face-to-face is fine in some general circumstances, to establish rapport, but don't be one of those people who's always communicating project details verbally, which puts the onus on the other party to take a bunch of notes or follow-up to clarify. We've got a few of those and they become the ones who get eye-rolled behind their backs.
- Meet people's eyes, address them by their first name, shake hands when appropriate / meeting - these seem like basics but they're really important.
- As others have said, keep personal issues / problems /crises, as well as work stress / complaints, to yourself. No one cares about your in-law or your roof leak, though they might make reflexive sympathetic noises, a lot of stories like this will get tiring
- Take ImproviseorDie's advice about not being the "office mom / big sis", and (contradicting someone else above) don't be the one who always volunteers for the administrative assistant-level jobs no one wants to do. (Do what seems like your share of such trivia but no more.) You might get some reflexive thanks each time, but if you behave like a subordinate you will be treated as one
posted by aught at 10:09 AM on July 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

Eat lunch with the people you work most closely with whenever possible, especially those higher up the org chart than you. If there are regular Friday lunches at a restaurant, even if it seems pricey, budget that in just like you would budget in work clothes.
posted by 256 at 10:22 AM on July 9, 2015

The same applies for after-work drinks. Even though you have a baby to get home to and a college fund to save for, you don't want to be the person who never has time for after-work social events.
posted by 256 at 10:24 AM on July 9, 2015

I love all of the advice so far! I'll pass this on to my students.

One thing I may have missed this in the other posts but my advice in addition to the above is to be proactive.

How? You can be proactive by finding out what is in the strategic plan. Read it and note where you fit and where the organization is going. If you are not contributing towards reaching the strategic plan you are not aligning yourself with the mission at hand.

Good luck and much success!
posted by drthom at 10:55 AM on July 9, 2015

Be an email person. Some things SHOULD NOT NEED a conversation especially those with deadlines or data; in-person or phone conversations are forgotten or misremembered or misheard.

Make sure your emails are short, brief to the point and asking for an outcome deliverable by the primary recipient(s).

Reply to emails quickly; even if you can't help, say so, and point to someone who can.
posted by lalochezia at 10:58 AM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

As you get to the point where you're organizing meetings, make sure they're only held when necessary. I've seriously debated hanging some of the meetings that should have been an e-mail ribbons at work. Make them no longer than needed (try to have them end 5 minutes before the scheduled end time to allow people to get to other meetings when possible) and have a clear agenda.

This will likely get some disagreement and I'm cognizant that I'm coming at it with male privilege and being in an in-demand field where I have high mobility - if someone attempts to bully you in the first few weeks, shut it down either by dealing directly with them or having your management do so. I've seen the pattern too many times where a new employee is so worried about making a good impression and keeping their head down that workplace bullying places them low on the unofficial organization chart in ways that's hard to get out of.
posted by Candleman at 1:44 PM on July 9, 2015

Response by poster: I haven't marked any as best because these are all great answers. Feel free to keep them coming. Thank you!
posted by reshet at 1:49 PM on July 9, 2015

Things I make a point of doing which serve me well:

- I make a point of being respectful to and about everyone. This includes our clients & the colleague who is a bit out of his depth that everyone else is often disrespectful to.

- When a colleague makes a mistake, or misses something which causes a problem, I stay calm & look for solutions, rather than where to put blame.

- I always say please & thank you.

- When I am stressed or put in a stressful situation I don't swear or shout or take it out on my co-workers. I don't mean I always have to hide that I am stressed, I just mean I try to be stressed in a professional manner!

- When a colleague has a problem or crisis & my tasks can be put off a little, I will step in & help them. (e.g. Sorting out a virus outbreak on a day when the IT guy in our small firm was on holiday).
posted by cantthinkofagoodname at 1:31 AM on July 10, 2015

- Meet people's eyes, address them by their first name, shake hands when appropriate / meeting - these seem like basics but they're really important.

This. And equally basically: learn people's names: those in your immediate team, all the key management people, your most important customers/suppliers, the people who appear in meetings, those who call you up, the new guy in accounts, and so on. Write them down in a book; test yourself. (At the same time as charging yourself with knowing names don't assume that people remember yours for the first few encounters - particularly if you are calling them on the phone).
posted by rongorongo at 6:11 AM on July 10, 2015

Develop relationships with people. It doesn't have to turn into some deep connection. Just be friendly and learn people's names and remember their kids names and the fact that they are into hiking. Get out of your cube / office and walk around. Just get out there. I walk around the office at least twice a day. Good things happen when you do this. Increase the probability of good interactions with people. When you see people......you or they will be reminded about that email you sent or that action item from yesterday's meeting. Learn who likes face-to-face interactions and who doesn't. Learn when / who to ambush and when / who to leave alone.

Eventually you are going to need to ask for something or deliver bad news. This is far easier when people know who you are.
posted by jasondigitized at 7:09 AM on July 12, 2015

As someone who's been in administrative roles for white collar professionals for 7+ years, here are a few things my fave professional folks have done:

- One sales VP whose personal motto (for himself, not others) was "Leave things nicer than the way I found them" - which meant, not leaving a sloppy mess in the kitchen for us admins to clean up, neatening up the printer area while he waited for his own print job, etc. Great guy.

- Remember details about people's lives and ask after them periodically - ie: remembered that the older receptionist had a new grandchild & asked to see photos, remembered it was admin professionals day and got all the secretaries flowers, periodically sprung for starbucks for everyone.

- Managers/professionals who thanked people for their time and effort both verbally and in other ways (via an email, compliments passed on to superiors, small tokens of appreciation, staff appreciation lunches, etc)

- Being able to roll with the punches if things went pear-shaped on a project, able to take on even small drudgery type tasks on occasion in order to meet a tight deadline (ie pitching in to help put together the presentation binders rather than hovering/making everyone else anxious about finishing them on time)

- Respecting the way things are done rather than trying to force others to bend to a specific approach to a task or project.

- Managers who never balk at staff using vacation time/sick time/personal time, etc in the way and timing they prefer.
posted by SassHat at 2:57 PM on July 12, 2015

It's also important to have a good first impression and a good relationship with your support staff if you're not at the bottom of the org chart. Every time I've joined a new office I've made a point to take my new assistant out to lunch to find out how they work, a little information about themselves, and to make sure that they have a good idea of how I work (I'm an email person; an "ask" person, etc.).
posted by craven_morhead at 9:39 AM on July 14, 2015

Always help. I always help people (mainly for computer stuff, even though I'm not the computer guy any more) when they ask, even if I'm in the middle of something. Help with a smile and at the end of it say "no problems, any time". There will be days where you're basically the departmental pinball, bouncing around doing favours for people for 8 hours and the things you're doing aren't even your job, but we have enough deadwood pieces of frowning useless shit around here that I don't need to just add to the pile.

Always help, even those people you don't particularly care for. Everyone needs help, and the world ends up a better place when you're the person who helps the people who need help, and doesn't teach them some kind of weird lesson in self-reliance.

Edit: except for that one guy in the warehouse, he's an asshole and I hope he drowns.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:29 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

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