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How to Get Your Coworkers Onboard With Workplace Change

OfficeNinjas 2017 All-Star Winner Kellie Edwards discussing change with her team

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Be the change you wish to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi

Despite its bumper sticker status, this quote still resonates with us.

Admin pros and workplace operators thrive on change. As the workplace evolves, we adapt our roles and the way we work. When we see a subpar process or a product that doesn’t quite meet our team’s needs, we seek out (or invent) something better. We’re happy to be the change or, more specifically, research and implement it.

But here’s something all those inspirational desk calendars and dreamy Instagram memes don’t address: the changemaker’s colleagues. Not everyone at the office embraces disruption like a Ninja.

You’ve probably found that many of your colleagues will settle for “good enough.” Others are downright resistant to new ideas — whether out of fear, stubbornness, or feeling they’re too busy to take on something new.

So what happens when your colleagues are just fine with more of the same? We spoke with eight Ninjas who successfully implemented a change in their workplace. Some shifts were big and others more subtle, but each one made a recognizable impact. And each has takeaways, big and small, you can use in your office.

Take Advantage of Change Already in Progress

Melanie Yates, Office Manager at We Are Tilt in Brighton, UK

Any Ninja who’s managed an office redesign knows that the costs and the pile of discarded furniture, equipment, and decor add up quickly. So when Melanie was tasked to spruce up her office space, she was determined to keep her efforts frugal and eco-friendly. “I set out to make the change, and I vowed to be committed to the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle),” she says.

She started with the basics, working with her Managing Director to choose desks that were made locally from sustainably sourced wood.

As for the old furniture, she found an alternative to the dumpster. “Our old desks were donated to Shabitat Furniture Project, where people can kit out their homes from a warehouse of donated items. Old hardware went to the Heart Foundation electrical charity store, or for IT recycling,” she says.

With a little research, she found pre-used, top-of-the-line chairs. And she donated the old ones to a local small business. To complete the office’s new look, she brought in plants, which are inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and visually pleasing.

Her changes have elicited compliments and praise… including an award for “Commitment to Waste Hierarchy” from the BPR Group (an environmental solutions provider in London)!

Her advice for managing change successfully? Do your research and, even if you can only make a few small changes, go for it. “Working toward your goal is better than doing nothing. If you are a small business and have a limited budget, you can still make steps toward your ideals,” she says.

Bring in the Team Early and Often

Gwendolyn Amberg, Executive Assistant at Steffes in Dickinson, ND

Email and instant messenger are effective tools for certain tasks — but organizing a large group lunch order isn’t one of them. Yet, until recently, that’s how the admins on Gwendolyn’s team were managing food orders. “There was no process in place, it was a pain point, somewhat time-consuming, and just overall frustrating with no change in sight,” she says.

To make this everyday to-do more streamlined and efficient, she used Typeform (an ONHQ fav!) to create a survey for her coworkers to use as a lunch request form. The survey includes the requestor’s contact info and some basic meeting details. “When the survey is filled out, all admins get the email notification,” Gwendolyn explains. “One will reply, take responsibility for the order, and go through the standard work steps to complete the task.”

Gwendolyn’s change has been met with nothing but enthusiasm — a result of how she implemented it. “This took me some time to develop, but I took time to address all potential issues that we would see crop up so that there are no questions,” she says. She also took the time to walk staff through the process of placing and receiving orders.

Pack Your Persistence and Patience

Devin Cecere, Executive Assistant at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne, PA

You know it’s an issue when the list of tools you use to manage your board meetings is almost as extensive as your roster of board members. Prior to switching to one universal management system, Devin was using Google for calendar invites, Doodle poll for scheduling, email for correspondence and sharing materials, SurveyMonkey for annual self-assessments. And the process still didn’t feel efficient.

“I knew there had to be a better way for me, as the primary board liaison and key liaison for many of our committees, to provide all the materials board and committee members need to be successful at their jobs,” she says.

She began researching systems, and, with the input of her boss, board members, and other stakeholders, Devin found a single platform through which she could manage all communication.

She encountered some hesitancy to learn yet another new platform. And she fielded her fair share of “We’ve always done it this way” comments. Devin navigated the resistance by explaining the benefits of the new system while making sure her colleagues’ concerns were heard and addressed accordingly.

To other Ninjas, Devin has some simple advice: “Pack your patience, don’t give up, and reach out to fellow Office Ninjas for advice and support.”

Communicate Clearly, Consistently, and Compassionately

Zoila Primo, Office Manager at Aquent in Los Angeles, CA

Not all workplace changes — even the ones that are absolutely necessary — are met with support and enthusiasm.

Zoila learned this first-hand when she took on the management of an inter-office move. While the move was crucial for better collaboration, Zoila’s colleagues had already dealt with a fair amount of transition. They weren’t interested in moving for what felt like the hundredth time.

So Zoila approached the situation with patience, empathy, and transparency. “You absolutely need to listen to your team’s concerns and assume good intentions all around,” she says. “Providing advance communication and as much clarity as possible is highly important.”

To ensure that everyone felt included and informed, Zoila created a detailed project plan that included a timeline and objectives. And when it came to drafting the seating plan, she asked for the team’s input.

Moves are never easy for anyone involved, but sharing information and the reasoning behind certain decisions helped Zoila and her colleagues navigate their growing pains together.

Build Flexibility Into the Plan

Ali Berger, Executive Assistant at Orases in Frederick, MD

When the president of Orases tasked Ali with managing their office move and renovation, she was ready. She already had one office renovation under her belt, so she was confident that she could handle whatever curve balls the project might throw her way.

And there were plenty of them: managing vendors (and vendor follow-through), finding meeting space amidst construction, working through construction noises, faulty alarm systems, leaks, floods, overflowing toilets… The project tested everyone’s patience. But Ali managed the move with grace by keeping one thing in mind: flexibility.

“As a Ninja, you have to be prepared for literally anything to happen — because nine times out of 10, the unexpected can and WILL happen,” she says.

She started every day with a to-do list, knowing her plans would inevitably shift and being okay with it. She was careful not to max out her daily schedule to leave room for unexpected issues. And just in case she wasn’t immediately available, she ensured there was an updated emergency contact list on hand for the team to use.

“In a nutshell, be proactive, not reactive!” she says.

Use Your Energy to Motivate Others

Caitlin Cuesta, Executive Assistant at Lightstream in Chicago, IL

When Lightstream brought on a culture consultancy firm to help the team revamp their hiring process, Caitlin knew there would be challenges. “This was a new process for everyone on the team, including me,” she says.

Ensuring that the whole team was on board and wouldn’t revert back to old, familiar ways was daunting. But she knew the effort was worth it. “When you boil it down, people are the most important aspect of any company,” she says. “We wanted to uncover the most qualified individuals and create an attractive interview structure to keep them engaged throughout the process.”

Being clear on the “why” behind the change was crucial to the process. “Before supporting or leading any change, understand why that change is important and how it will affect your organization — even in the smallest sense!” Caitlin says. “Understanding the why and how will allow you to gain personal buy-in because that change will likely have a positive impact.”

And if you want accountability, communication is key. “Lots of reminder emails were sent! I was constantly referencing all the training materials and the interview playbook itself,” she says. “As a team, we all understood the importance of holding ourselves accountable to the process and openly communicating with the team to hold others accountable, too.”

Above all, Caitlin believes her attitude helped her team adapt. “Be excited about the opportunity for change in your workplace! A colleague used to tell me, ‘We don’t need to be perfect, we just need to be better than we are right now.’”

Keep Your Team (And Yourself) Focused on the Big Picture

Melissa Buckley, Office Experience Coordinator at Handshake in San Francisco, CA

As if leading an office move doesn’t already test a Ninja’s ability to manage change — try doing it in half the time you were originally allotted! That’s what Melissa faced while getting ready to move her colleagues from San Francisco’s Mission office to a larger space in the Financial District.

“When we began the process of planning the move, my timeline was to get us moved in three to four months. Within a couple of weeks of planning, my timeline got cut in half,” she says. “I also still had to do all the other day-to-day aspects of my role, including managing the current office, onboarding new team members, and troubleshooting IT issues.”

It would have been easy to get frustrated with the situation, but Melissa kept her eyes on the big picture.

“I care deeply about the team and employee experience here at Handshake and was so excited for us to grow into a more comfortable, spacious office,” she says. “I wanted to ensure a seamless moving process, so the team could stay focused on making an impact and helping students launch meaningful careers.”

She started by devising a detailed project plan that took into account every aspect of the office experience (IT, furniture, office supplies, food, etc.) and created action items for each category.

Knowing she’d need reliable support, she reached out to her network of go-to vendors and let them know exactly what she needed.

And when it came to communicating with her coworkers, she was honest about how the move might impact their work. “I made sure to set expectations with the Handshake team in the weeks leading up to the move — not everything would be perfect on the first day,” she says. “Some unexpected hiccups may arise despite all our planning. This definitely helped remind folks to be flexible and fostered a sense of empathy.”

Leverage the Momentum of a Successful Change

Angela Parikh, Office Manager, Steelblue, in San Francisco, CA

Angela’s workplace change was born out of necessity. While she was helping manage employee onboarding, she realized there was no universal reference guide. “I needed to see what the whole task looked like,” she says. “And I needed a guide for repeating the process in the future.”

She anticipated some difficulty collecting her colleagues’ input, considering everyone’s workload and busy schedules. So, before engaging her coworkers, she sought her boss’s buy-in. “The backing of my boss meant I could get the guide finished,” she says. “It was treated as a priority task and, therefore, input came quickly.”

Using Google Docs, she assembled a brief but robust document that included everything from getting a new team member’s desk ready to requesting IT support and explaining the company’s 401k plan. “It massively increased accountability, cut time spent on requests and follow-up, and prevented middle-of-the-night-panic!”

Beyond its intended use, the guide has also inspired Angela to look at every aspect of her role differently. “I realized that my whole workload could have the same treatment. ‘How could we do this more easily, cheaply, quickly, etc.?’” she says. “If something feels unnecessarily complicated, then listen to your gut and take a look at how it could be improved.”

Get More Inspiration for Kickstarting Positive Change

Looking for meaningful ways to make a change in your office? Why not do the planet a solid and start with workplace conservation?

Read these Ninja stories of workplace conversation to get inspired. Then check out our article on innovative ways to make your office more sustainable for even more ideas.

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  2. One of my major tasks has become a Project Manager. I created a checklist that calculates the due dates for each task based on the due date for the main project. This started out for a list just for one small department, but the whole office has started using it for all projects happening in the office.

    1. Nothing better than a handy checklist. Thanks for sharing, Cadrian!

  3. At one of my previous jobs, the company had a complete reorganization. As a result, we had another group of people move onto our team. One of the people in the group was deaf. We had weekly leadership meetings and he would often fill in for his group leader. We would try to schedule translators, but sometimes they weren’t available. If a translator wasn’t available he wouldn’t joint he meeting and we would send notes via email/Skype.
    The more I thought about it, the more I felt that we needed a different solution. I spoke to my boss and convinced him to encourage our leadership team to take a ASL course the company offered. I took the course with the team and we learned how to communicate with our coworker. We were able to fill in and help when the translators weren’t available. It also felt great to be able to talk to my coworker and ask about his weekend or the latest project without using a computer. I know he was excited to see the initiative taken to make him feel welcome.

    1. What a change to lead, Karen! Inclusion (and just general communication) are so important — thank you for taking that on!

  4. When I started at my company about 6 months ago, things were a bit chaotic, to say the least. There were not many (or consistent) processes in order in regards to filing, ordering supplies, or onboarding. It was somewhat of a free-for-all which made for a hectic environment for our accountant who was the one in charge or all of the admin duties. With the aid of our wonderful recruiting manager, I have established a well-defined onboarding procedure that benefits the sales team, the recruiters, the client, and candidate, and myself! I’ve developed an ordering system for office supplies/food that requires us to only order once a week without running out of or over-ordering supplies. I’ve reorganized our filing system so that it is accessible and not overwhelming by moving unnecessarily files out of the main cabinets and into our long-term storage facility. I had my work cut out for me, but have honestly loved helping make my office more user-friendly for all of my coworkers and I can’t wait to see where the next 6 months bring us!

    1. Sounds fantastic, Brianna! Keep us updated on the remainder of your year!

  5. I have changed my office by making our operations more sustainable. Our environment needs all the help it can get to stay beautiful and as the head of our Green Team, I was able to stop the ordering of single-use water bottles, have dishwashers installed so we could have reusable dishes and flatware and stop ordering plastic and paper products, educate employees on proper recycling at the office and at home, etc.

  6. In my very last role, I was awarded an opportunity to act as the Controller for our Southern California branch, beyond my role as there Office Manager. The President of the company (Chuck) frequently visited the SoCal branch and due to my new hat (acting controller) we met periodically and developed a close working relationship. While in traffic one afternoon, an email came through from Chuck. I was literally stopped on the freeway, so I picked up my cell, read it – a quick response was in order, but, of course, the traffic started moving, so in a blink of an eye, I typed my answer to his question and hit “send” – 40 min later, I arrived home and I decided to bust open my lap top and check on some other emails (so thankful, I did) and in the midst of checking on another email in my sent folder, I noticed my response to Chuck, earlier was on the verge of pegging me as either a weird/inappropriate jokester or worse; jobless! – I had typed “Hey Chuck” BUT good ol’ Siri took it upon her/himself to correct it to read; “Hey F***” (don’t ask) in a panic, I recalled the email and we all know, waiting for the recall response as either a success or failure can be nerve racking (ha!) – neither response came through-EVER! I didn’t know if I should text or email again and apologize, or if I should leave it alone. Now, we had developed a strong working relationship but nothing beyond that and he was the President of the company, so I was at a loss. I reluctantly chose to leave it alone. It goes without saying, but I was unable to sleep that night. When I arrived at work the next morning, it was business as usual and it went on that way for several days, even exchanging other emails back and forth with Chuck. So I had presumed, I was good and all was behind me. The following week, Chuck came into Town and held a company meeting for our SoCal branch. He kicked off the meeting with a screenshot of my email that read “Hey F***” and simply stated, “this is the funniest thing, and I thought I’d share with the team” – he went on to say how life is short and how we are all moving so fast and everyone is just trying to catch up… everyone laughed and it WAS funny – Chuck turned it into a GREAT teaching moment. Not for spelling or attention to detail or even being good at your job, but taking time for yourself… I wish I could have retained his entire speech but it was extremely motivating and I remember thinking; “WOW, what a great, intelligent, down-to-earth man. Later that day, he entered my office and said: “hey, f*** is here” for his meeting… we had a laugh and carried on with our meeting. There are a couple take-away here. 1. Don’t, drive and email, 2. Attention detail, and 3. Which, I think is high on the list – Slow down and make time for yourself.

    1. In my new role at AMN Healthcare (Executive Assistant/ Sr. Administrative Assistant-Marketing Dept.) I practice that very mentality on a daily basis. I don’t eat at my desk anymore for lunch, I take moments for myself to reenergize and encourage fellow employees to do the same. I have even established “walk meetings” within our department. It has made a big difference in my sanity and happiness and my professional and personal life.

      1. This story was wild from start to finish 😂— but we LOVE it! Agreed that it was a great lesson, and glad you rolled it into change at your new role. THANK YOU for sharing, Jessie!

        1. Ha! Thank you! and I apologize for so many spelling and grammatical errors. (SMH)

  7. Two years ago, my boss (school prinicopal) turned in his resignation and there was no one on board to replace him. As school secretary/office manager I knew a LOT would fall into my lap by default. Before he left, I got him to authorize permission for me to have a “junior assistant” help me out over the summer to do some of the more mundane tasks that I’d otherwise have to work overtime to complete. I rationalized with him (which went up the line) that they could pay me my time & half wages or we could hire a “junior ass’t” at $10/hr for these tasks. The guys loved the idea–and I got feted for saving so much money!

    During the last school year, we hired a retired former principal who served here part-time (on a temp basis). He wasn’t “into” using electronic media very much, so all of his email was forwarded to me, and I kept him apprised of all the things he needed to handle, without bogging him down in the admin stuff that I could easily take care of.

    Last school year was very “stressy” for me, mainly because of not having a full-time boss on site, but it also demonstrated that I could handle a lot more responsibility than the school board or I thought I could. All that said, I was very relieved to have a new full-time, permanent principal join our staff last summer, and it has been fun working with him–he’s never had his own full-time assistant before, so I’ve enjoyed the process of showing him what it’s like to hand off admin-y stuff to let him do his executive tasks. So far, so good–great fit! And it’s been much nicer for me, too, not to be shouldering responsibilities that aren’t really part of my job description. However, my main mantra is “I have your back” which means I’m always looking out for his best interests because if he looks good doing his job, then I’ve done my job, too!

    1. Love this, Debra. Sounds like you mold to the situation at hand seamlessly. Hoping this year is a little less stressful!

  8. I came into a great company that had very little structure for Office Operations. In my time here I have:
    -Created and streamlined catering process
    -Changed office and kitchen vendors which saved the company a lot of money, established some wonderful relationships and exposed us to new and exciting products
    -Helped the company ‘go green’ with all recycled printer paper, and all compostable kitchen items (cups, plates, forks, etc.)
    -Expanded the office operations team from just me, to me and the 2 wonderful office admins I manage. I’ve also created training manuals for each position, and established the first draft of an office operations career ladder
    -I’ve established cross office communication between our office operations teams with the 3 other offices. We all operate independently as location changes what we do, but the communication is helpful for problem solving and comradery .
    -Completed 5 buildouts / office expansions in 3 locations, currently working on the 6th.
    -Established an Emergency Alert System for our entire company, implement quarterly tests of the system in all 5 locations.
    -Established office safety documents, process, and training for our Chicago office, helped implement it in our other offices.
    -Head up our Philanthropy and Healthy You Committee’s organizing local philanthropic and healthy event efforts
    -Changed our office over to a print-release system. This allows us to bill clients for color copies and prints, saves money on supplies, and helps keep our office green!

    I do my best to change things for the better every day and will continue to do so for as long as I can. Every day is an opportunity both to learn and to teach.

    1. Look at this list of accomplishments, Grace! INCREDIBLE!

  9. This is my 8th month at this position. Coming in to academia they have had an open door policy, which is great, but I noticed my director was not able to get much work done. Students just walked into her office, or those of the faculty. I put up signs, asking students to Stop, check-in with the student worker I hired for the reception area – they continued to ignore all warnings. The director still was complaining she wasn’t getting any work done and faculty complained if students didn’t have an appointment.
    I talked with the director and explained that she was not allowing me to be effective at my position. I was to be the division gatekeeper so to speak. Everyone was to give me access to their calendars and I composed an email to the student body addressing the issue of professional behavior in the workplace, as well as making an appointment to see faculty and checking in at the front desk and waiting to be seen.
    Why this was not done previously- I have no idea, but the chaos diminished. It was so simple. I don’t know how they survived without me!!

    1. It is never to late to teach the value of boundaries. We all need our space to execute personal and organizational mission!

    2. GREAT change Denise — you absolutely can’t get stuff done if you can’t get in a groove. Keep up the good work!

  10. Today’s global workplace is changing at a rapid pace than seen before. With new technologies, combined with massive influx of millenials into the workforce, managing change is a major challenge. It is what essentially drives growth, so ninjas have to be willing to embrace it.

    Having said that, as office Ninja I managed workplace change by –

    First, accepting that change is inevitable.

    Second, working closely with my fellow employees and revisiting goals set for the year. Thereon, moving forward to set new performance objectives.

    And finally, I focus on continous learning new skills to stay relevant and competitive at work.

  11. Today’s global workplace is changing at a rapid pace than seen before. With new technologies, combined with massive influx of millenials into the workforce, managing change is a major challenge. It is what essentially drives growth, so ninjas have to be willing to embrace it.

    Having said that, as office Ninja, I managed workplace change by –

    First, accepting that change is inevitable.

    Second, working closely with my fellow employees and revisiting goals set for the year. Thereon, moving forward to set new performance objectives.

    And finally, I focus on continous learning new skills to stay relevant and competitive at work.

    1. Yes! True ninjas adapt and can forsee the need to change!

  12. Our office is growing faster than we can keep up, and I had to make the tough decision to eliminate two of our four printers in favor of two additional desks. I knew this would be inconvenient for half the staff who now had to walk across the floor to pick up a print job. I led with humor and heart: I titled the email “Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes! (Turn and face the strange…)” and opened with an Andy Warhol quote about change. Then I succinctly described the new desks, and which printers we were keeping, with a quick note that I understood how inconvenient this would be for some, as I was now furthest from a printer myself.

    There were more jokes sprinkled throughout, about our printers going to a printer farm where they could run and play with as much recycled paper as they wanted. I closed with a note about how change can be hard, and a link to a Harvard Business Review article with tips for dealing with change. Then I included a photo of the gorgeous butterfly migration coming through LA with a note about how if these butterflies hadn’t changed, they wouldn’t be so beautiful.

    When I have to send an all-office email, I always close by changing the job title in my email signature to something related to the topic of the email, such as “Office Librarian” or “Cafeteria Lady” or “Director of Enthusiasm” and so of course I had to choose “Change Agent” for this one.

    I haven’t had a single complaint, which is no small miracle when supporting a large group.

    1. Humor is the key… especially when printers are involved! Loved this story, Josie — thanks for sharing!

    2. Teams appreciate thoughtfulness and humor! Keep building favor and your sponsor/advocate pool will grow.

  13. When I started at my workplace 4 years ago, I was the only dedicated admin, and we had about 60 employees. Now, we’re 100 people strong and still growing, and we have a 6-person center administrative team (CAT). I’ve been able to work with my fellow admins to identify tools and systems to keep us collaborating and consistent across the center – OneNote for travel planning, Notion to share team resources and messages, weekly CAT meetings, etc. The employees we support are always grateful for our help, and they’re willing to embrace the changes we recommend. Our work culture believes everyone is a leader, and it’s powerful to feel like I’m part of positive change.

    1. Fantastic to hear, Virginia. It’s amazing how much impact a strategic tool or two can have on a team 👊Keep it up!

    2. Communication is the foundation of growth and opportunity!

  14. I’ve been at my company 11 years. I started as the receptionist and I’ve worked my way up to EA to our Co-Founder and our CRO. When I arrived, the company was using styrofoam cups for coffee and solo cups for water. I switched us to compostable products immediately and ordered branded coffee cups. Our snacks were all junk from Costco. I searched for a found a local service to deliver fresh fruit twice a week. Later on I helped HR launch our New Hire Buddy program which has since morphed into our New Hire Onboarding training. I was a one of three employees who helped launch our corporate philanthropy program. I was the company’s second EA ever which helped our e-staff to see that yes, they do need more than the CEO’s EA for the company to run smoothly. With the support of our co-founder, I refreshed out employee anniversary recognition plan as we grew out of start up phase and had employees hitting the five year mark. Our CPO sponsored an onsite kickboxing class twice a week, which I helped launch and was the beginnings of our corporate wellness program. HR handles much of these things now and they’ve morphed into global programs across our offices but it feels good knowing I played a part in shaping the culture of the company as it is today.

    1. This is a POWERFUL list of changes and we are here for it, Myka! It’s incredible to see what one Ninja can bring into the fold — don’t ever stop identifying problems and making waves!

  15. A couple years ago I started an Admin Group and wrote a mentor program at my company. The goal was to shorten the learning curve of new admins starting and not having a resource or anyone to onboard them. It also created a community to learn together. I set-up monthly training, monthly newsletters, service projects, and events. For the mentor program we have senior admins mentoring new ones for a few months. The change it has brought is just a great atmosphere of comradery and support for each other. There is always someone who you can turn to if you can’t figure out something, or even if you need a sounding board.

    1. This sounds like a great initiative, SAL! Thanks for sharing 🙌

  16. Thank you for this article; I enjoyed reading about how to influence change through specific examples. I partner with the CEO of my company as his assistant, and I manage his email inbox. When he is in the office, we have weekly follow-up meetings to discuss key action items; however, he is not always in the office as he travels quite often, many times a week or more goes by and we don’t have any time to sit together. We used to have a weekly email in lieu of a meeting for these times, and while that helped, it wasn’t as immediate as I would have liked. I developed a system to communicate with him during his extensive travels utilizing Microsoft OneNote. Any items that he needs to see go on the list and are prioritized by category and high priority items are at the top. It is just a simple table, there is the subject/category, detail, action item (this is in red and if the CEO is in a hurry, all he needs to look at), and a column for his notes, and then a column for mine. It is an immediate, living document that we share. I have found this to be very beneficial in the way in which we communicate, and the CEO does as well; he has even begun updating our notebook himself and he has added items and responds to follow ups on his own. After I saw how beneficial this was, I looked for more opportunities to utilize OneNote to further enhance productivity, and created a OneNote devoted to News and Media content that is searchable, and I also house his calendar in our Master OneNote file, along with a Quick Links section that can be easily accessed, either via desktop/laptop or tablet.

    1. 👏GREAT idea, Kathy. An organized (+ prioritized) doc is so much better than a daunting stack of emails. Thanks for sharing — keep it up!

  17. I have encouraged managers and staff in our office to utilize OneNote for our monthly meeting of the managers. Everyone adds their own bullet points and we don’t print any paper agendas anymore. Everyone brings their tablets or laptops to the meetings and we are able to click on action items and mark them to add directly into our own Outlook without any extra typing.

    We also use OneNote for all of the travel planning that I do. I keep up with everyone’s coming and going and everyone knows to look in the notebook for their individual conferences or meetings and we have significantly cut down on extra emails and paper floating around. Using the Office Lens, they are able to take pictures of their receipts during the trip and I can be working on the expense reports before they even return from the trip.

    I also have an Administrative Procedures Binder created in OneNote and it is available so that other staff can get to it in case I’m out (or win the lottery and am off traveling the world). When someone asks, “How do I” or “Where can I find”, many times I can refer them to the notebook for more answers.

    I was also the one that started a wave of standing desk additions to our desks. Many of us throughout the office now have the adjustable toppers so we can get up and out of our chairs for part of our days.

    I don’t always get everything I ask for, but if i don’t ask, the answer is always “No”.

    1. Love the planning. Love the standing desks. LOVE the mantra. Keep asking those questions and making impactful changes, Denise 🎉

  18. I implemented a full service pantry program with great snacks and beverages. It’s a huge hit especially the fine coffees. I’ve also worked to create fun and meaningful events and activities.

    1. Snacks can be a game changer 🙌Thanks for sharing, Rebecca!

  19. Over 3 years ago, when I started at our office, the staff was not using the “notes” feature attached with each customer. I implemented the process that every time we interact with a customer that we record key notes so that the next time they call in or come by, we are all up to speed on their needs. It has helped us over and over again and now it’s routine for the whole staff to update the notes.

    1. Remembering what’s already been done is a huge help — great idea, Grace!

  20. As the lead assistant (Executive Assistant) of an organization with 30 assistants, I began to find outlets to build community and ways to show appreciation for all the administrative assistants do. Last year, I gathered the admins on my floor to have Bible study and encouragement time each Friday, which has built trust and friendships that weren’t present a year ago, as well as times for community service for team building. I also package up some goodies and encouragement notes on days like Valentine’s Day, Admin Professional Day, etc. It’s amazing how little things can brighten someone’s day, and most importantly, make them feel appreciated in some times an underappreciated position.

    1. Community is SO important, Jaclyn! Thank you for building those spaces for your fellow admins ❤️

  21. I am fairly new to my position, an Executive Secretary in higher education within a unit known for being forward thinking, fast moving, and making big changes every academic year. Existing staff, most of whom had been at the unit for 10+ years knew what was going on and what needed doing without the assistance of many process documents, job aids, or recorded best practices. In the midst of my new workplace’s continual change, I identified what did *not* change and what needed to be documented and streamlined for the sake of continuity, efficiency, and institutional memory. I convinced my team to create a Google Site and record and index the parts of their jobs that remained the same year to year. The easily navigable website enables my team and our rotating temporary workers to dive into work more quickly, because we now have context, and detailed instructions (complete with graphics and text to accommodate different styles of learning). I have recently turned my attention to creating additional change. With the help of our unit’s technical team and input from leadership I am creating an Air Table database that will reduce the voluminous number of spreadsheets my team and leadership maintains, drastically reducing the effort used to produce the many types of reports needed by the registrar, the provost’ office, and accrediting agencies. The reports produced by this new database will be more flexible and more granular then what we could previously produce, enabling leadership to delegate additional tasks and projects to my team and letting them focus on the next big change.

    1. Keep it going, Rebecca! It’s great to hear about a Ninja who jumps in and continuously brings out needed change 👊Thanks for sharing!

  22. I moved into my position right after a potential union strike. People were divided and didn’t trust each other. I started programs to recognize/appreciate the Board, staff, students and volunteers. This has helped people see and express the good in each other and see everyone as part of the WHOLE TEAM.

    1. Trust is key! Thank you for taking on that responsibility, Dana 🙏We’re sure your whole team appreciates it!

  23. Currently I am in the process of taking over the office lead from a woman who held the position for over 30 years. This has been extremely difficult, especially with the fact that everyone loved and adored her, and she did SO much. I give her credit for all of that.
    However, there were many processes in our office that needed to be updated, and that’s where I am focusing. We’re going “out with the old, and in with the new”. It is difficult to bring the rest of the group up to the changes, but I can see them coming around, and that makes me happy!
    I’ve also started to create more of a “team” environment, and that actually has made management step up as well, and we are having team staff meetings weekly now…something that was never done before.

    1. Jennifer – I’m also coping with long-standing co-workers. It’s challenging. Regular meetings are so important.

    2. It’s a tough spot to be in, but we know you’re rockin’ it, Jennifer! Keep innovating and pushing forward 🙌

    3. Facilitating a voice is a true mark of a champion!

  24. There’s a general blah feeling at work – a result of several factors. I invited 2 of my colleagues to form our own Admin Appreciation squad. Run by admins for admins.
    Our first activity was a month ago – a Jewish version of Secret Santa. Today, we launched our very own 4-day admin appreciation festivities: Office Wizard Day, Office Ninja(!!) Day, Office Gladiator Day and Office Virtuoso Day.
    A cool email starts the day – we share about famous warriors of all genders, fun facts and an invitation to join a lunch time activity.
    Today we shared a magic spell = growing plants in old egg cartons.
    Tomorrow is our own version of Chopped!
    Monday is gladiator games.
    Tuesday, for the grand finale, we’re celebrating our virtuosos with a potluck. The recipes will be collected and created into a cookbook.
    The total investment in all of these was less than $50 total, and we got to see colleagues smile, communicate with each other, connect and break the siloed culture.
    Be the change you want to see!

    1. Simple, fun, and impactful!

    2. Um, how can we get in on this? Sounds AMAZING, Chava! Keep up the creativity 🙌

  25. Change is always good and I’m like a gear at work, when one gear changes I will continue working and shifting until my job is complete. Change is inevitable and you have to embrace it, flow with it and just keep positive with it!

    1. Well said…admins can adapt to any situation to accomplish the mission of our organizations!

    2. Absolutely, Cindy! Thanks for keeping those gears moving 👊

  26. Every spring, the library onboards about 800 volunteers for our Summer Reading program. We had been sending a paper mailer to previous volunteers. I changed this to a Google form last year and improved the process this year. Within 3 days, we had nearly 200 returnees. I needed to create and rewrite some data entry processes and communicate a lot with my team.

    Because of this change, we were able to get more people placed sooner. Before we opened the application for new volunteers, 1/3 of our library locations had over 66% of their needed people.

    While my team is quick to note all of the hard work I put into this project, without their support and willingness to make this change, it would not have happened.

    1. The admin brain is an amazing muscle and full of diverse ROIs!

    2. Love when a change has immediate results ❤️Keep on innovating, Karen!

  27. I’ve made lots of little changes, but the one that means the most to me and has the most visible impact is eliminating poorly attended and disappointing company-wide meetings. They were supposed to happen every two weeks and were a mess from the time I arrived – not enough room for everyone in the meeting room, nothing to talk about, people didn’t take them seriously, and that’s when they weren’t cancelled last minute altogether. Instead, we have implemented monthly All-Team Huddles. These involve snacks (rotating items with healthy options), a standing/relaxed format in the lounge, are kept to 30 minutes, and are focused on team sharing rather than manager updates. We incorporate team shout-outs from everyone, quick business/big idea updates from the founders, and rotating share sessions from individuals/teams across the company. This helps us stay connected professionally and personally, as well as sharing our takeaways and project goals with everyone. It’s a work in progress, but already people seem to appreciate the new format and meaningful exchange.

    1. We all excel when everything is invested and a part of the process!

    2. 🙌What a great project to focus on — no one likes useless meetings. Thanks for leading this much needed change, Jessica!

  28. Good Afternoon,

    Our Department uses a Google Team Drive to share documents. This has been quite successful.

    Honestly, as far as shared calendars go… I still prefer a monthly paper calendar or erasable board showing important events. Being a visual person and one that appreciated a technology break. I appreciate seeing this away from the screen.

    1. Denise, innovation can compliment tradition. Pitch this to your team! You may not be the only with the same point of view!

    2. There’s something powerful about physically writing and reading away from screens — and it sounds like you’re gauging what’s best for you and your team! Keep it up, Denise!

  29. Ive worked in the same office with the same people for years. In ten years time literally nothing had changed. You could tell half way through the day we were always all exhausted so one day I asked my boss if we could change the decor to have a new look and feel on things. We ended up painting the walls a bright color instead of the gloomy white and we put down brand new colorful carpet and new curtains. Just that little change pepped us all up and made us feel more excited about coming to work! Change is a beautiful thing!

    1. One voice can spark a movement! Yasss!

    2. Colors are everything 👀Thanks for bringing a little pep into people’s days, B.J.!

  30. Ninjas,
    I’ve changed my office in several ways. My position was vacant for a while and people were a bit skeptical when I arrived but I’ve managed to build close relationships and implement the following changes: 1) Friday afternoon walks, my office calms down a bit Friday afternoons. So to help release some stress from the week and get ready for the weekend, a group of us go for an afternoon walk during our lunch break. 2) Juicing!! A handful of us have started to “cleanse” ourselves and reboot our digestive systems by juicing for 3 consecutive days at least once a month. 3) Smiling…it’s contagious! Personally, I am not the best at this but I have learned that it helps a lot. I’ve also noticed by me smiling more, others are smiling more, it really is contagious.

    All of the changes I’ve implemented in the office have helped me connect with people on multiple levels and we work a lot better together. We have built trust and understanding. It helps make the entire office friendlier and welcoming.

    Thanks for allowing me to share my story!

    1. Kindness is always free! Yes, keep smiling!

    2. Three great steps 🎉Walking, feeling healthy, and smiling are little things that can make a huge difference. Keep it up, K.R.!

  31. We are a relatively small company (now about 18 people) and about two years ago we had recently had a fair amount of turn over. Our office was mixed with very long time employees and brand new employees. It was causing a lot of disagreements and breakdowns in communication among other things. I was desperate to bring the team together so I brought in a certified Clifton Strengths coach and had him work with our team and teach me as much about Strengths as he possibly could. Since then I have continued to learn more about Clifton Strengths and have utilized that as a key tool with our team each day as well as with team building activities. It has helped our communication and our culture tremendously.

    1. The best teammate supports collaboration! Keep it up!

    2. Great insight, Taylor. Sometimes, you just need some outside help (and we LOVE Clifton Strengths)!

  32. I was bothered by the various piles of abandoned desk accessories throughout our facility. And I kept hearing stories about discoveries of overstocked office supplies – ordered by one person and then forgotten when they moved on. I asked my boss if I could do something about all of that. I got permission to clean out a small space, started collecting and inventorying items, and we are “open” once a month for drop in sessions – to drop off items or “shop,” all for the price of filling out a survey. A year and a half later we have collected over $38K of items and repurposed $27K of it. Staff are excited to save budget money, keep things out of the landfill, and have cleaner/clearer work spaces. We have partnered with our Facilities team to collect surplus when people change locations instead of leaving a mess behind.

    1. I am going to steal this idea! Brilliant!

    2. Wow! Office supplies is usually a big source of contention — but it sounds like you found the perfect solution, Linda-Jo! 💪

  33. Joining a small, established company where most people have been here for 10-20 years has been challenging. As you’d imagine, not much change has been implemented over the past 20 years, so there has been lots of room for growth! My general approach has been:

    1. Keep communication paramount! Set and manage expectations throughout the process.

    2. Work with the team to identify areas of improvement and problems to be solved (this also ensures buy-in!).

    3. Address the desired end-results with the team.

    4. Listen to their concerns when building the plans, and assure them that you are validating those concerns.

    5. Provide open communication and support before, during, and after implementation. For example, when rolling out Teams, offer “open hours” training, 1:1 training, and specialized training (“Teams 101” and “Teams for Project Managers”).

    This approach has helped me gain trust within the group dynamic which, as a newer employee, is immeasurably valuable. They understand that I am here to help make their lives easier, and to improve the company overall. Simply listening to and validating your teams’ concerns is KEY to successfully initiating a change campaign.

    1. GREAT process, Victoria. Establishing trust in an environment like that is a huge step on it’s own — change on top of it is phenomenal! Keep it up 💪

    2. Yes, “begin with the end in mind!” A vision is just a wish until you share it!

  34. Administrative professionals not only manage the day to day operation of SMEs…we are SMEs. For the past 2 years, I have promoted the necessity of pursuing professional development and certifications to change the narrative of how senior leaders and middle managers view administrative professionals within my agency. Result: Not only are we achieving administrative professional certifications and specialty certificates…we are pulling certifications/certificates in human resources, traditional project management, information technology project management, and business analysis. As a result, our agency now features administrative professionals on internal and interagency committees advocating and representing agency interests and mission. Lasting impact: We are no longer taking our seat at the table as minute/note takers, we are valuable, indispensable business partners with niche skill-sets/technical expertise!


    1. Wow 🙌 LOVE this, Sonya! Way to advocate for your fellow admins *and* create a real impact!

      1. Thank you! We are powerful and we are strong! Keep inspiring the tribe!

  35. I changed my office by adding new and different catering places for our Lunch and Learns. Many of our presenters/vendors had been used to having boxed lunches from Ingallina’s or Specialty’s brought in. But I decided that our teams needed a wider variety. So I introduced boxed lunches from a wide variety of restaurants and catering services all around Seattle (and even a few that deliver from Kirkland and Bellevue). When I first began the job in December 2015, there were four places that the previous admin used. Through 2019, that number has grown to 20, and counting. Each year I make it a point to find new places to order not only boxed lunches from, but also sandwich platters, fresh salads, and tasty desserts from. Our guests especially enjoy it when I order lunch from a French bakery or fresh, organic, locally grown fare. Our teams appreciate the variety in the boxed lunches as well, since they attend a few of these lunch meetings a month.

    1. A yummy change 😋Sounds like a big hit, Michele — thanks for sharing!

    2. As admins, we inspire diversity and inclusion in every area of our work! Keep promoting endless possibilities!

  36. When I first started at my company 2 years ago the previous admin had already left so I was thrown into the deep end. We have another office in Atlanta and there was no/little communication between our office and theirs. There was an obvious divide; now our admin in ATL and I work together to collaborate and make the offices feel more uniform and not like one office is “better” than the other.

    1. Yes, Ashly! Collaboration and coordination is everything 🙏

    2. Connection is important and data sharing is paramount for success!

  37. Several months into working at my current company, we did an entire restack: everyone in the whole building had to move desks! My team is the entire 10th floor (about 110 cubes, 7 director offices, and 1 VP office). My directors and I aligned on utilizing this opportunity to clean up and get better organized. Several weeks before we moved, we dedicated an entire day to this cleanout. We had extra shred bins and dumpsters; spots to put old hardware and extra office supplies by type; and Clorox wipes. I had signs throughout the floor directing team members to the nearest dumpster or shred bin. We were able to shred, ship, donate, pitch, and recycle an enormous amount materials!

    Because it worked so well, we now do this each summer and use it as a time to clean up and ship documents to our offsite facility.

    1. A less chaotic workspace and spark creativity and less distraction!

  38. About halfway into my first year in this position, our kitchen vending services – which were provided by a friendly, family-owned company – got bought out by another chain. This new chain had terrible customer service. They didn’t clean anything, they didn’t answer e-mails, they ignored our requests for upgrades, they didn’t even send us invoices until we asked for them. I decided enough was enough and started researching to make a switch. It was a slow-going process, but another six months later we now have a different company servicing our kitchen. The account manager comes in every week even though he doesn’t have to. He restocks everything himself and handles any invoice discrepancies. We stopped using K-cups and moved to a greener coffee machine that’s tastier too! In addition, our kitchen is now a grab n’ go rather than vending machines. We’re able to offer a wider variety of snacks for less than what we were paying to the vending company, with better customer service. Morale has significantly improved as well.

    1. Love a greener (and happier) office! Thanks for sharing, Sarah 👊

    2. A balanced work life is dependent upon psychological safety and satisfaction. Loved how you stepped in to meet the need!

  39. When I started working at my company last year everyone was drowning in emails. We have a remote team in India, so juggling time zones is a real struggle. The CEO and President were getting copied on EVERYTHING from all of the departments and their inboxes were completely unmanageable.

    One of my first projects turned out to be getting the whole company using Microsoft Teams. After researching the functionality with document sharing, conversations, and holding meetings all through the same platform, I suggested implementing it across the company. The owners agreed, and I got to roll it out to both our US and India teams.

    Since we were already using Office 365, it was a a no-brainer cost-wise, and has been a game changer for communicating and collaborating across the globe. We moved to using Teams exclusively for internal collaboration and all of the groups are getting used to the shared environment.

    The best feedback though, came from my CEO who has on multiple occasions said that the switch to Teams has dramatically reduced the noise in her inbox and makes it easy for her to take care of the things she needs to. We are constantly finding new ways to utilize features and integrations and the whole company is actively collaborating now.

    1. What a FANTASTIC change, Debbi 🙌We honestly don’t know how anyone survives without a Teams-type messaging system. Thank you so much for sharing — keep up the phenomenal work!

    2. My agency is on the same track! Wait for the avocor! lol

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