About this Blog

The Curmudgeon's Office blog is a spin off from my personal blog, Too Young To Be A Curmudgeon, which is full of random rants and thoughts I have on a whole host of topics. In an effort to be more organized, and also to attract a specific niche of followers, I decided to start a separate blog for my professional postings. At this blog, I'll post my tips, rants, and random thoughts on a host of professional topics from setting up a home office & office gadgets to 5S practices & time management.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quick Tip: Keep a pen & notepad handy

If you spend your days at a cubicle farm, you'll often have somebody passing by who want to leave a note for the coworker that is not at their desk.

Be prepared for the less prepared coworkers. Leave a pen and a sticky note pad on the end of your desk.

Others can use it without interrupting you, or pillaging through your desk if you're not there.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

There's A Reason You Were Fired For No Reason

Recently, at the day job, a little "house cleaning" took place. Two employees were fired. Both had been with the company for many years and there really was no shock that they were let go.

Both put very little effort into their duties and both do not work well with others. One spent more time trying to  look busy, than actually being productive. The other spent most of the day gossiping and complaining about the company and the job.

As no surprise to me, the one who spent most of the hours at work complaining is now telling the world that she was "fired for no reason." That is a statement I, and I'm sure you, have heard many times. Fired for no reason.

The simple truth is people are rarely fired for no reason. Any small business owner, HR professional, or recruiter can confirm that the hiring (and firing) process is a huge expense. Just the man hours alone in setting up payroll and benefits. The time invested in training. The fees involved  if a temp or recruitment service. Not to mention the dip in productivity and other expenses occurred until the new hire comes up to speed.

That investment does not want to be wasted by any company large or small. When a employee is not working out, most of the time every chance is made to improve things. From candid discussions on what is expected to changes made in the job description, usually something is done to prevent a firing. Besides, firing some one is a huge expense in itself.

Both of the people that were recently let go had several chances given to them, but things did not change and they were let go.

Now, just because some one is fired from there job, doesn't mean they can no do that job. Just not at that company. Companies can be compared to professional sports teams. While some do the same thing, they do things in their own way, capitalizing on their strengths, resources, experiences and skill sets.

Just as a Quarterback or a Pitcher can struggle on one team and be a superstar on another; an accountant, machine operator, or salesman with two different companies.

Yes, this is no absolute and there are some times when someone could be fired for no reason. And if you feel  that has happened to you, considered it a lucky break. Because know you are not wasting your talents at a place you weren't welcome at.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Press One For Aggression

I've been spending a good chunk of this Saturday afternoon caught in a Catch-22 type loop. I've been trying to setup an admin email account for a domain I recently purchased from a new provider. I get an error message every time I try to set it up. After a few attempts, I put my pride aside, took three deep breaths and called the toll free helpline.

As expected I got an automated system, which will always raise my blood pressure. As I pressed numbers for the category of my problem, preparing myself for a conversation with someone who speaks broken English with a heavy accent, I hit a dead end.

I was asked to enter my PIN. I don't have a PIN for the account. Creating the account PIN is the next step after creating the admin email account. I sent off an email and posted a question on a forum, so this minor set back should be resolved shortly. I'm sure it's just a simple error on my end.

This is a perfect example of why I can't stand automated call systems. While they can help your customers reach the person who can help them without being transferred and placed on hold, nothing beats a human voice. Personally I would rather have my call answered by a human and be placed on hold, than dealing with a automated system. If your company has an automated system it should have a "press zero for an operator" option announced right away.

If  a customer or potential calls you and can't get through quickly to someone who can answer their questions, or take their orders; you may lose them without even knowing they called.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year QuickBooks

When I started my home business, designing plastic injection molds, I did what most people who start a home business do. I used a computerized spreadsheet for my accounting. I created and kept track of quotes and invoices in MS Excel. For just starting out, it worked just fine.

I had been using Quicken for keeping track of my personal finances, so after about a year or so I upgraded to Quicken Home & Office. Seemed like a logical step and worked out great. While Excel is an extremely powerful tool, using Quicken Home & Office was a vast improvement and I was very happy with it.

Then this fall I took a class on Computerized Accounting and the course used QuickBooks. As expected I quickly found that; while Quicken Home & Office was a vast improvement over Excel, QuickBooks is a much more powerful tool for tracking finances.

After the second class, I told my instructor that I was already sold on QuickBooks. I told her I planned to purchase the software for my business and go back to the standard Quicken for my personal finances. She made the recommendation of instead of buying the two software programs, just get QuickBooks and create a  separate "company" for my personal finances.

Besides teaching business classes at the local Technical College, my instructor also has an accounting and consulting business. She told me one of her clients started doing this and has been quite happy with the results. So the idea was in the back of my head through out the course.

Well the course is over. I bought QuickBooks Pro, and last week, while on "use it or lose it" end of the year PTO from my day job, I got both my business and me set up in QuickBooks. I don't need to go into detail on how to use QuickBooks for your small or medium size business. Many of you already know this. But I'm pleasantly surprised how well it works for personal use.

I'm just getting started and have a few things to try out; but I know QuickBooks is going to great tool for me.  It is going to be very useful for budgeting and planning finical goals. I will be sure to post tips and cool things I find while doing this here.

This could be a lot of fun!

Office Phone Etiquette for Snoogins

Someone recently made a comment to me about the protective case I have for my mobile phone. It's a "Jay & Silent Bob" case. I'm a fan of Kevin Smith's movies and the characters of Jay & Silent Bob in particular.

My friend commented "cool phone case, but you don't bring that to work do you?"

I replied "thanks and of course I do. It's my personal phone, I'll have whatever case I want for it."

Shocked my friend said "But you meet with customers and vendors. Shouldn't you maintain a professional appearance?"

Of course I maintain a professional appearance. I am by no means stiff-as-a-board having tea with the Queen ├╝ber proper, but I am a professional who has good manners. Part of good business etiquette, is concentrating on the conversions and presentations involved with meeting with customers; not checking my email on my phone or taking a call.

In fact most of the time, when I'm meeting with someone with someone outside of the company, I leave my phone behind. My focus should be on the people who traveled to meet me and the topics they come to discuss.

Of course the phone comes out if my tablet isn't at the ready to check a date on the calendar, or find something I have on Evernote. But it's a brief appearance and my hand usually has awesome graphics covered up.

The point I'm trying to make is: when you meet people face to face, meet them face to face. Not face to face with your eyes on your phone checking email.

By the way, snoogins. It's one sweet phone case. Snootch to the nooge.

It's a Case Mate brand case, and I highly recommend them.
The model I have is a two part case. Soft rubber inner part with a hard plastic outer.