Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tips on Building Your Professional Image

The corporate world has a changed a lot over the period of years in terms of working environment and so have its work force. It has become almost essential for each person to have an identity within an organization in order to move ahead the corporate ladder.

With the onset of stress induced work lifestyle employers need to keep their employees motivated to avoid their human resource from reaching a saturation point at work.

When a person joins a new company the obvious reason would be for a better job pay package, but one has to remember that high packages would also mean that you need to put an extra effort to be at par with the salary and bonuses that you will receive.

Recession did take its toll on several sectors which led to many job layoffs, salary cuts, demotions, impending promotions, amalgamations and dissolutions in many companies. Scores of people feel insecure and look for solace in a better job security. That phase is slowly moving out as the market is picking up at a gentle pace in terms of hiring new employees.

Companies would hire people but they would definitely not want to lose employees who are assets to an organization by retaining old staff and keeping them motivated.

Some corporates love to maintain an informal environment where as other strictly follow a formal decorum. People have different personalities and it would take a more time for such individuals to adjust in such environments. As the world has already become a global village it will not be of any surprise where multicultural people work together under the same roof.

Below are few tips on how to build your image in a professional environment:

 Addressing colleagues-

No matter whether your office follows a formal or informal working environment, it is very important for you to put professionalism before friendliness.

Some organizations would prefer colleagues to address to each other with their first names whereas in other sectors for example in a university colleagues could address each other with their designations like 'Professor' or 'Doctor'.

Office gossips-

Avoid gossips related to office matters as it can usually harm an employee's image. Gossips travel like grapevine and sometimes people in the higher management would love to rely on such means of gaining information as it seems to be one of the most reliable methods to extract information from people and competitors.

 Be an asset-

Always try to prove yourself to be an asset and not a liability to your company. If everyone from your team has been allocated a responsibility for a common project and if you have been left out idle at your workplace it clearly shows a negative image on your skills. The best you could do is assist and volunteer to be a part of that project.


Your mannerisms and attitude is a crucial factor in determining your capabilities not only to adjust with colleagues but also to adapt to the nature of your work process. Due to stress and demanding nature of various jobs people tend to lose their cool and tempers flare causing rifts. It is advisable to refrain from throwing tantrums or acting without thinking on consequences.

No matter where the employee might be in the line of hierarchy colleagues must learn to earn and not demand respect.

Build relations-

Building trust and confidence with your coworkers helps in the long run as it will affect your evaluation when it comes to acquiring indirect feedback from colleagues. Even after you have left the organization and moved ahead in life try to make sure that you leave pleasant and lasting impressions in your organization.

Office attire-

Lastly your attire says all about you. With the first glance anyone can say whether you are tired or happy from your dressing sense. It is suggestible to dress in formal attire or 'smart casuals' which seems to be the new trend in many offices. Avoid revealing outfits and keep your hair clean and combed.


Being on time to work creates an impression of your image of how you are in your personal life. Being late to work on certain occasions might be excused but frequent late arrivals will have its obvious consequences. While taking breaks avoid extended breaks and make sure to be on time at your desk. Try to complete your given tasks within your working hours which can help you avoid late sittings. You can judge by yourself which is your most productive time of the day be it morning, afternoon or early evening. Accordingly get you tasks completed on time in an efficient way.

Hope these few tips will help you get some ideas to create a good image within your organization.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tips on how to write an Agenda and Minutes of a Meeting


Scheduling an office meeting can be a simple or complex task depending on the way you organize things prior to the meeting. One of the most important things to do before the meeting is to give all attendees a brief idea about the topic for discussion during the meeting in order to have themselves prepared for productive discussions at the meeting. Be prepared with the necessary paper works or documents that would be required to be circulated as handouts for discussion. Carry files and notes as back up that could be required at any point of time for reference to topics for discussion.

Exchange of emails and phone calls are one of the causes for reduction of face to face meetings. Meetings are usually held to brainstorm and discuss on a set agenda items. A meeting can be short or long but at times there are chances to deviate from the main topic of discussion which leads to loss of time.

It is always best to have productive meetings and conducting an interactive session or else people could tend to go on a mental holiday in spite of being physically present in the meeting.
Meeting invite:

In order to schedule a meeting an invite needs to be formally sent out via email calendar in MS Outlook stating the date, time, venue and agenda for discussion.  It is advisable to send invites much ahead prior to the day of meeting; this will give all attendees sufficient time to be prepared for discussion.

Any documents or handouts that are to be discussed at the meeting need to be circulated prior to the meeting.  If the meeting is official one which might require important decisions to be made, in such cases it is advisable to ensure that the meeting room is set up with proper lighting, seating arrangement, refreshments or projector for better view of documents to be discussed. 

 There are few tips to keep in mind before you schedule a formal meeting.

Meeting Agenda:

Agenda is a key feature to conducting a meeting. A meeting without agenda will lead to nowhere and aimless discussions. Agenda is a key factor in controlling timed debates and discussions at the meeting. The person who calls for a meeting has to first ensure that the attendees need to come prepared for discussion. Many a times people attend meetings with blank faces and are not prepared for meetings. If there are certain documents or points that need to be discussed during the meeting, it would be advisable to circulate these handouts or documents a day or two before a brainstorming session so that the members can arrive at the meeting prepared with points of discussion leading to a productive conversation. An Agenda should consist of basic components as stated below:
1.       Date-

The date of the scheduled meeting has to be clearly stated at the top of an agenda

2.       Time-

The time scheduled for conducting the meeting is essential to avoid any conflicts with schedules of attendees

3.       Venue-

The location of the meeting has to be specified whether it would be an internal meeting or external meeting held in a selected location

4 4.       Attendees-

It would be helpful if the names of the members who are invited to attend the meeting are listed down.

5 5.       Agenda Topics-

The main reason for conducting a meeting is to discuss a set number of points. By stating the intended topics for discussion one can control the time spent on discussing a particular topic. For example if there are 6 agenda topics and you have 30 minutes to start and finish a meeting then 5 minutes can be dedicated to discuss each item to ensure productive usage of time in an efficient manner.
6.       Notes-

If you need to add any extra notes other than the main agenda items. It can be specified.

Minutes of the Meeting:

Minutes are supposed to be recordings of final decisions and action planned during the course of the meeting. It is supposed to be a summary in a detailed and crisp. Make sure to use formal close ended sentences without punctuation. Below are the basic components that should be included in the minutes of a meeting.

1.       Date, Time and Venue-

This should relate to the agenda in which the date, time and venue was mentioned earlier prior to the meeting unless there were any last minute changes to any of the above schedule.

2.       List of Attendees-

At times it is very important to note the list of attendees. People who did not attend the meeting can be listed as a separate category termed as ‘apologies’. Attendees have to sometime vote for certain decisions discussed during the meeting an in case of their absence their vote might not be counted hence it helps to mention their names in the minutes as absentees.

 3.       Proceedings of the meeting-

This is the body of the minutes which contains a detailed summary of the discussion or debates during the meeting. It comprises the final action plan that has to be carried out which acts as an evidence for future references.

 4.       Conclusion-

The conclusion of the minutes should be brief stating if the meeting was adjourned or rescheduled to lack of time or concluded with a consensus of all members in agreement to the above points discussed.

Avoid making an error of noting each and every dialogue or suggestions made during the meeting. Focus on the summarized decisions taken for action to be met before a particular deadline.

The minutes of the meeting has to be circulated to all attendees including the members who were invited but did not attend due to any obvious reasons. If another meeting is held to discuss always remember to carry a copy of the minutes of the previous meeting related to the agenda matter for references.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Decorative Fruity Thoughts

While eating fruits are good for your health getting creative with it also adds a fun element to it.
This morning while peeling the sweet lime I just got a bit creative and below are few pictures of what I created ‘an aromatic fruity candle’. Before you peel the skin with the knife keep a round base followed by cutting off the skin in a ribbon until you reach the bottom.
I added a small heart shaped candle at the base and arranged it in a way to make it look like a rose. Light a match to the candle and keep it burning for few minutes I am sure you will get an aromatic fragrance of the sweet lime. Ensure that the peel does not fall into the flame or else it might just end up catching fire.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Guidelines on Correspondence Etiquette

Depending on the nature of your job profile you need to keep in mind that your correspondence represents you and your organization’s image.  Each time when send out a letter on an email, you need to note that though the receiver is not in front of you, they will get a good or bad impression through your correspondence.

In case you are using the traditional method of correspondence i.e. through paper work, there is a need to keep track by filing copies for future references. 

While preparing or drafting internal memos, you need to keep in mind of the below guidelines:

Letter formats 
Always maintain a uniform font face, color and size. Use bold, italics and the underline features only when needed.  Avoid unnecessary highlighting of alphabets.  Maintain a standard color code for all fonts. This is even noticed when people send emails they do not bother to check the uniformity of the fonts.

Font face: Avoid fancy or decorative fonts while sending out formal correspondence unless the situation demands for it.  For example if you are required to send out a party invitation you can use a not so fancy but an eye catchy font face. 

Font size: Depending on the font face the common font size used is either 11 or 12. 

Color Black is the standard color used for correspondence.  Using colors for fonts changes the tone of the message.  One of the most important is avoid using the color red to highlight sentences.  The color red changes the tone of the message, it means that the sender is either being harsh or sending a stinker message to warn or accuse the receiver.  

Page layout: Always check for the margins of the page with the help of the ruler.  Arrange the orientation of the page before you start typing.  If you need to add a watermark or page border this is the time you need to format it. Check for indent and spacing for paragraphs.  Align your paragraph text to either left (Ctrl+L) or justify (Ctrl+J). Adding a header or footer along with page numbers helps a person to know in advance before giving print out command.

A letter without a date is completely pointless.  It is of utmost importance to mention the date of any type of communication. With the frequency of emailing correspondence work, one has not to forget the importance of date on letters.

In case of paper work correspondences using a reference code it helpful. Though not used frequently, this is useful when a particular department has to issue a same format letter to multiple receivers.  You can use alphabets or numerals for reference. For example-(department name/current year/receiving department letter number) when used it should appears like—(Human Resource/2012/Sales dept-1). This helps to also note the number of multiple letters issued that particular department in a complete year which can eliminate any chances of missing or impending correspondence letters.

A subject line draws attention and conveys a summary of the body of the letter. Based on the subject certain correspondences are treated with importance and are usually given priority.  A letter without a subject will keep the reader away from reading if he/she is extremely busy. If a letter is extremely lengthy the reader might keep it for later hence, to save time and catch the attention of the reader a subject line is preferable.

Greeting a person with the right salutation creates a good impression.  Salutations for people on certain designations are important. If you are addressing a Ph. D holder or a Professor or manager you need to address with the right designations.

The content of your correspondence should be precise and formal.  While sending out correspondence to an external or third party it is good to give a brief introduction about yourself and your company followed by a different paragraph detailing the comprehensive material related to the subject line.

Closing a letter with the right salutation by using ‘yours sincerely’ or ‘yours faithfully’ in formal letters.

Your name-
The two basic types of correspondence utilized in most of the organizations are internal and external correspondences.

Internal correspondence 

Receivers of this type of correspondence are usually internal employees or colleagues.  These messages can be circulated electronically or on paper.  While sending emails to colleagues, people usually tend to forget that even if it is an email you need to remember that you are using your company’s official intranet to communicate.  For informal communication you can use your personal email ids, but while communicating formal announcements or making requests to your internal clients, you need to keep in mind to refrain from using very casual or informal words.   With the onset of the chat world lingo words have many short forms and abbreviations for example ‘thank you becomes ty’. Remember electronic conversations are archived by the I.T. department and can be accessed anytime in the future. 

External correspondence

Receivers of this type of correspondence are third party or external customers.  External correspondence can be via emails, fax or letters and it plays a great role in creating an image of the sender.  While sending official letters, quotations, invitations or orders to third party clients it is advisable to use the company’s letter head which makes it an official communication note.  It is good to maintain a standard template if you have to send letters frequently to external vendors.  For example if you have to frequently place an order on monthly basis for a particular product with the same vendor, it would be helpful to keep a standard template which becomes easy to correspond. 

The above guidelines will prove to be useful when applied appropriately while drafting correspondence. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Efficient Office Filing Techniques:

Your office desk says a lot about your state of mind and how well you process your work on a day to day basis. It helps a lot to stay organized. You can imagine yourself walking into someone else's office and the moment you notice a cluttered desk with scattered papers all over the table your get an impression as if the person is so busy that he/she will not able to help you. It is an unwelcoming sight. Filing has moved to a new level since computers replaced them good old typewriters. Paperless office is a new trend and it needs to be practiced a lot in order to save our trees. But there are unavoidable requirements that require papers to be manually filed. Documents that move around different departments that carry approvals, stamps and signatures cannot be evaded. Such documents require to be filed with extreme care, because when it comes to the certain auditors they would love to see original documents with signatures and stamps rather than electronic records.

Below are few indicators that will help you organize your filing technique:

1. Digital files:

At times rather than printing email attachments for filing it would be quicker and efficient to just save those files on to your computer for future reference. The computer is just like a mini assistant. It helps your do a lot if you use it efficiently. If you do not remember where you saved a particular document on to your computer, you can search any file store on your computer by simply clicking the 'windows' tab on the lower toolbar of your screen, where you select the option 'Search' and then just type either the name of the document or simple few words from the text of that document and just in a matter of few seconds you will have it on your screen without you having to move around to dig any cupboards. Learn to create folders and subfolders on to your computers for better management.

2. Labeling your files:

People follow various techniques for filing their documents. The most commonly used two types of filing methods are:

Alphabetic wise - It clearly states that you label your files alphabetically which becomes easy to access.

Numeric wise - This indicates that you label your files with numbers rather than alphabets.

I would prefer a combination of both the above. Alpha-numeric sounds time consuming but it is worthwhile in case you have to manage a large volume of filing system. Remember that labeling your file is not a daily routine task; you might have to do it just once in a year. Hence, it is recommended to use the most efficient label that will help you locate documents without wasting your time.

3. Frequency of creating new files:

The next question you need to ask yourself is how you maintain your filing system. Usually new files are made on annual basis and old documents are archived. Depending on the nature of business you might need to create new files after each financial year. For example in a school or university you would renew they database with the onset on each new academic year. There would tend to be few files among the whole lot that needs more files in a particular year which has been covered in the next point.

4. Overfilling a file:

It would definitely not look good if you carry around a heavy file with papers overflowing from its binder. If you have cupboard to store your files I am very sure out of the whole lot there would be few files which are used on frequent basis. These files tend to get stacked up faster than usual with documents. It would be suitable to create two versions of files by numbering them as File-1 and File-2 for the same annual year.

5. Dividing a file:

Certain components of a file might not be used on regular basis hence it would not be suitable to waste a whole file that would be used to just store few pages. You can club certain similar types of components by adding a separator or a divider which is usually a plastic sheet or thick quality paper as sub labels in a file.
To give you an example: If you have to create a file to store approval papers for conferences and workshops, it is advisable to add two dividers in that file with two labels one for 'conference' and other for 'workshops'. This will help you save on your file storage.

6. Archives:

When you have very old files that contain very old records that are lying around in the cupboard for no use but it will be eating your storage capacity, it is suggestible that your electronically archive them for safety purpose. Usually old records tend to get misplaced and anyone can be blamed if old records are not stored properly for future verification. If there are valuable documents which are very old with signatures that need to be stored it would be safe to scan and save them in archives folder