What Do Your Walls Say About You?

Stop what you’re doing right now and look.  Look at the walls in your office if you have one.  Scan the top of your desk, your file cabinets, side tables, computer stations, ect.

If this person were an attorney, would you trust him with your case?

Look with fresh eyes as if it were someone else’s office.

What do you see?  Controlled chaos?

What does it say about you?  Neat? Disorganized?  Unproductive?  A potential fire hazard in the making?

Business professionals should be use to thinking about their appearance by now.  Every wise manager knows that, on the job, you dress for the position you want, not the one you have.  But how often do those same people think about what message their surroundings are saying to others?

Your work environment maybe be your happy place on the job, but the message it sends to others should be consistent with the one you’re trying to send through your appearance, your skills, your conversations, etc.


Do they clash?  Or do they support each other?

In today’s competitive market, don’t overlook this crucial piece of the puzzle. When it comes to your workspace, consider these items:

–         Does your workspace convey efficiency and organization?  Or are your walls lost opportunities to sell yourself instead?

–         Is your college degree (should you have one or more) prominently displayed on the walls?  If not, get it up there.  If you don’t have walls or can’t hang personal items, invest in a small table-top easel and place it on a filing cabinet or side table.

–         Do you have any awards, merits or other honors that are frame worthy and display friendly?  If so, put them out there too, but avoid clutter.  The idea is, if you have professional designations to brag about, do so in a tasteful manner.

Now that’s more like it!

–         Is your desktop some place where pieces of paper go to die?  If so, now is the time to get organized.  Raid the supply cabinet for hanging file folders, develop a system, then use it.

–         But don’t wipe the slate completely clean!  A wide open expanse of clean desk top may be nirvana to neat freaks but to others it may say this person doesn’t have enough to do. 

The point is, bring order to the chaos, promote your accomplishments and send a message that you’re organized and dependable.  If it looks and sounds like you know what you’re doing, people usually will believe you.

– Robin Fritz, Adjunct Lecturer, Division of Business, Indiana University – Columbus

Maintain the Message

Properly communicating the company message is the responsibility of everyone within an organization, from the receptionist on up to the CEO.  But how do you ensure that the person answering the phones is speaking the party line?

To guarantee a consistent message tape answers to frequently asked – and crucial questions – near the main phone bank.  But don’t post and forget it!  Check it on a monthly basis and update as necessary.  In challenging economies, information often grows stale quicker than you can say audit.

Also, provide updated facts and figures on a regular basis.  Communicate any noteworthy information to the receptionist and his/her backup ASAP – sometimes their need to know is actually more immediate than middle managers who aren’t necessarily speaking with the public and customers on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

Additionally, an intranet is a great tool for spreading the word to everyone while maintaining a consistent message.  For it to work and be effective, however, someone needs to commit to keeping it updated on a regular basis.  Also, the information needs to be pertinent, otherwise employees will soon recognize it as a waste of time and will readily drop it out of their information line up.

Last but not least, don’t forget those all important water cooler conversations.  Monitor the company grapevine and if the message you hear is NOT consistent with the message you want, it may be time to make a more concerted effort to communicate with employees.  Remember, if YOU don’t provide the information, someone else will.

– Robin Fritz, Adjunct Lecturer, Division of Business, Indiana University-Columbus

As Grammar Goes, Verbs are the Spice of Life

Inexperienced writers often suck the very life out of their prose by taking energetic verbs and turning them into dull, lifeless nouns.  Consider the following:

Example:    Today’s stock price elicited a disappointed reaction among the shareholders.

Revision:    Today’s stock price disappointed the shareholders.

 Example:    It is our expectation that we will see productivity improvement when the new computer system comes online.

Revision:     We expect more productivity when the new computer system comes on line.

 When revising a business report, press release, employee newsletter or company-wide email, be sure to look specifically for those weak noun structures and replace them with vigorous, active verbs.  Not only will you gain clarity in the process, but your writing will be leaner too.

– Robin Fritz,  Adjunct Lecturer, Indiana University-Columbus