Just a Receptionist

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Often I hear the words “just” and “receptionist” in the same phrase. Every time I hear this, it truly hurts. I’ve heard it from employers and I’ve even heard it from receptionists. Why is this crucial position for any company valued so lowly? Probably because people think it’s an easy job. Years ago on Administrative Professional’s Day, our staff filled in at the front desk in shifts so that our admins could have a nice lunch out of the office. I think it’s fair to say that it opened our staff’s eyes to just how hard a receptionist works. Imagine the phone ringing off the hook, a lobby full of people staring at you, your Outlook inbox overflowing with emails, and you’re supposed to keep a smile on your face and in your voice for eight hours straight, five days a week. Sounds impossible, right?

Your receptionist is often the first person your customers interact with. How much is a first impression worth to you as a business owner? In Greenville, receptionists make $10-$15 an hour and are often the least compensated in the company they work for. We’ve all had a bad experience talking with someone on the phone or walking into a business for the first time. Competition in any industry is so high, if the receptionist is rude, unhelpful, or just sounds bored, what is there to stop the customer from picking up the phone and calling the next company in your industry to try to place an order? Communication skills matter. In fact, as someone who talks on the phone and speaks with people in person all day, I can tell you that they matter a lot. First impressions count and you get what you pay for–these are generalizations for a reason. Are you as a business owner making the connection that this role is more than crucial to your company’s success?

So as an employer what do you need to be looking for when hiring a new front desk person? A top-notch receptionist needs to love interacting with people—both over the phone and in person. They must have a natural affinity for helping people and they must understand that their role is crucial for any company’s success. If you as an employer don’t take the position seriously, with your voice and with your actions, then how can you expect that of the person you’ve hired? The best receptionists know that they have to be “on” at all times. In the world of social media reviews galore, the #1 interactor with customers, your receptionist, needs to make it look easy—no one should have the slightest idea that their inbox is blowing up or that they’ve already answered 50 phone calls and it’s only 9 a.m. When I’m coaching my employees in support roles, I often make the point that if you show you know what you’re doing and you are polite and helpful, the customer will be at ease. Find a calm person with the proper administration skills who truly enjoys interacting with people, treat her/him as if they light up your office, and you can’t lose.

 

Besides managing the best support team in the Upstate, Karen enjoys the daily adventures of her dog Maddie and her cat Guillermo J. Gosling.  She is a 13 year veteran with Godshall Professional Recruiting and Staffing where she has served in a variety of roles including recruiting, medical credentialing, and management.

 

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Showing Appreciation: A Win for Managers, Employees, and Companies

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Years ago when Facebook caught on with middle-aged people like myself, it became clear to me that people deeply wanted to express their stories, feel seen, and be heard. I think that is true for employees in the workplace as well. Do I want to be paid a fair salary? Yes. Do I want to feel like my manager really sees what I provide to the company, appreciates it, and trusts me just as much? Yes.

I manage a small team. Or as a friend once said, “I look after them.” I always liked that phrasing because that is exactly true. I do look after them. Below are the top 10 ways I try to make my team feel appreciated:

  • Make yourself available: If a team member asks to speak with me outside of our regularly scheduled catch up, I drop what I’m doing to make time for them. To me, nothing is more important than letting each member know that they are important to me and the company.
  • Coach them on the areas they can improve upon: I let my team know that theirsuccess is my success and a success for the company. I am there to help each team member achieve their goals and get better. Be specific, keep it to the facts, and be fair.
  • Have their backs: A former co-worker once told me that she always boosted up her team to the president in meetings and then later went back and communicated to her team what needed to be corrected. I have never forgotten that. I take responsibility for any shortcomings and begin coaching my team up.
  • Take a personal interest in their lives: I have tried to get to know each person that reports to me as a person. I once listened in on webinar where the speaker said that if employees like their managers, there is nothing that they won’t do for them, and I believe that. They know that I’m not asking anything of them that I wouldn’t do myself. We are all in this together.
  • Treats! As a former teacher, I love celebrating holidays and special occasions. My team gets flowers, candy, extra time away from the office, homemade sweets, a personal note, etc. It costs me very little time or money and I think it makes them feel special, and in turn, that makes me proud.
  • Be flexible with time: I try to accommodate their requests for time off. We are a small team but if they need to leave early, take lunch at an unusual time, or go to a dentist appointment that they remembered at the last minute, I try to make it happen. No one likes to ask their manager if they can do something outside of the norm. If you always do your best to accommodate, on the off times when you can’t, they will know that you’ve done what you can.
  • Listen: Sometimes employees just need to vent, blow of some steam, cry, or have a meltdown to get their emotions out. Sometimes you just have to listen.
  • Ask them what they need from you and ask for their ideas: What do they need from me to be successful? Do I need to run interference on something, move a task to someone else’s plate temporarily, or be a sounding board? Not everyone feels comfortable giving their opinions freely, so I make a point to see if someone from my team has a fresh set of eyes on something or a new perspective.
  • Let them manage a project that they enjoy: Our social media campaigns are important, but they were never something that I enjoyed doing on a daily basis. It was more of an after-thought for me after getting everything else on my plate finished. My millennial team member really enjoys creating content and making our postings look nice so I moved that over to her. Win, win.
  • Trust them: Assign a project, check in with them on their core responsibilities, be a sounding board, but in the end, let your direct reports know that you trust them to get the job done.

There’s a saying that employees don’t leave companies–they leave managers. It is 100% easier keeping a good employee happy than searching to refill a position, identifying the new employee, and training them to get them up to speed. It just is. I firmly believe that if you pay employees a fair salary, see, hear, and trust them, that you will have the beginnings of a satisfied and engaged team of professionals.

Writte by: Karen Truesdale

Karen is celebrating her 13th anniversary with Godshall Professional Recruiting and Staffing this week.  Away from the office, she enjoys spending time with her pets and her husband Matthew who is her LinkedIn editor.

Managing Millennials & Moving On

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We’re inundated on a daily basis with content on millennials – a pervasive, complex, and reviled group of workers. So, I’ve been brainstorming about a key takeaway and what I could possibly say at this point that’s novel. I landed on a simple call to action: move on.

Here’s the deal: with the oldest millennials being about 36 years old, we finally have some definitive research on their workplace behaviors and can compare them to previous generations. Here’s the summary: there is little to no difference in levels of narcissism, job tenure, or work ethic amongst millennials and previous generations in their twenties. It turns out, all youth is narcissistic, indecisive, and distracted.

Okay, okay. You need evidence. After all, I’m a millennial – why trust me?

Most of the studies you see compare millennials to the current feelings and behaviors of Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers. A study cited in Business Insider just this week provides a perfect example. “Daymon Worldwide notes that millennials are more obsessed with being unique and standing out than their parents and grandparents are.” (http://www.businessinsider.com/differences-between-boomers-gen-x-and-millennials-2016-6) I hope they didn’t spend a lot of money on that research because if I compare any 25 year old and their 75 year old Nana, I would certainly hope their level of maturity and narcissism differed.

In regards to the job-hopping, Baby Boomer’s actually changed jobs in their twenties at the same rate that millennials do now (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/nlsoy.pdf)! Let me demystify this: young people usually take whatever job they can get starting off. They don’t know what they want to do long-term and millennials came of age during a recession where if you didn’t take whatever job you could get, you were perpetually unemployed. (Unemployed = no brunch. Millennials love brunch).

Lastly, millennials work differently but they are not aggregately lazy. Lazy is a really loaded word and I don’t have the space to enumerate the dangers of characterizing an entire group as something derogatory, so use your own intuition here. Every time you’re tempted to say “lazy”, replace it with “different.” Because the truth is millennials are very different from previous generations in their beliefs about work. We don’t always subscribe to traditional hours. We value work-life balance and sometimes prioritize it over a demanding career. We want to understand the why’s behind what we’re doing because we need purpose. Are these good qualities? Bad? Admirable? I don’t know exactly, but aren’t all those statements what people tell us to prioritize after it’s too late for them to change? Spend more time with your family. Do something you love. Work hard, but set boundaries.

On the upside, you’ll also find that we answer late-night emails. Because we grew up with technology, we constantly look for ways to be more efficient. When we find our passion, we’ll work however many hours it takes. The key for employers is to harness that passion and not let vintage expectations drive away a talented workforce.

So, that’s it. There’s your answer. Young people are needy and kind of difficult to work with and they always will be. Maybe in a few years I’ll be blogging on the pains of Gen Zer’s. Que sera, tale as old as time. Let’s stop dwelling it on it now.

Written by: Hannah Barfield Spellmeyer

How to Help Newly Hired Employees Hit the Ground Running!

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You’ve put an incredible amount of effort into hiring the right match for your position, your offer was accepted, and now you’re anxious to see the results.  Your work is done, right?  Not quite!  A few easy tips for helping your newly hired employee get off to the right start:

  1. Give them a warm welcome! Whether or not you provide a formal orientation, introduce them around so that coworkers will know who they are and where they are working. Allow some time for interaction via the water cooler or a personal introduction.  Give them information about customs that may be unique to your firm.  Have someone invite them to lunch the first day if possible.
  2. Make sure the newly hired employee feels you are ready for them. Are business cards in? Is the computer set up? Do they have office supplies?  Little things matter.
  3. Be wise in choosing the trainer. Like most small businesses, if you don’t have a formal training program, be cautious not to assume that the employee with the most expertise is also the best trainer. Often, you will want to involve multiple people in the process so that the newly hired employee understands how their role fits into the organization.  For example, sales professionals should spend time with customer service or technical support professionals so that they understand the customer.  Also, be aware that people have different learning styles—some need to “do” rather than just hear or see.
  4. Set clear expectations. This is your chance to start with a clean slate.  Let the new hire know what is expected of them and how they will be measured.  Let them know how often you will meet with them and how to have questions answered.
  5. Put their success in the hands of the entire team. When the team feels it is in their best interest for a newly hired employee to be successful, they are more likely to support them and give the newly hired employee the best possible chance for success.

 

Written by: Julie Godshall Brown

Julie is the president and owner of Godshall Professional Recruiting and Staffing. She has been with her family business full time since 1995 and remained as president and owner when her parents retired in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Clemson University and a Master of Personnel and Employee Relations from the University of South Carolina. In addition to leading her firm and several industry related organizations, she is a very active community volunteer who has made an impact on the future of the Upstate.