Out of the Loop?

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Question: “I constantly feel like I’m left out of the loop! When I need further information on anything I have to dig for it! How can I get management to pay attention to me? If I ask questions, I get the ‘don’t bother me’ looks or I'm told to come back later. I need help." —Sandra

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

KTatley November 28, 2013 at 3:24 am

Right now you’re asking them to do something for you – try rephrasing this in terms of benefits to them. Show them how your proposed process can save them time, save money, be more accurate and inclusive. Address any risk or effort concerns. Offer a trial period in a limited area if there is any doubt.

Make yourself useful – a good tactic is to offer to take minutes in meetings – saves them the time and effort and get’s you into the meeting.

Use what information you currently have access to in order to be informed (emails, minutes, schedules). Schedule daily 15 minute stand-up updates with your boss to go over priorities but make it useful to your boss by giving her relevant summarized information plus asking how you can assist him or her.

Keith Tatley. Founder of
http://www.ManagerFoundation.Com
“Make managing easy”

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Gina August 23, 2011 at 8:33 am

I get this on occasion, I’m an EA too. But with my boss I go play the “someone is going to come asking for this” card so I need to know. Or if he fails to include me in something that will eventually effect my job duties I do the “well what about ________ again”. I think the hardest thing for me right now is we went from a 4 person dept. to a 3 person dept. And the 3rd person is new and he is trying to have her involved in a lot due to she is kind of his back up. So I feel left out on a lot. So all I’ve been trying to do is stay on top of things and bug him a lot.

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Patty August 2, 2011 at 8:22 am

Susan, you are absolutely correct when you talk about the action items. I have received many thanks for reminding members of the executive team when an action item has not been looked after. You can even go one step further and offer assistance wherever you can to help speed things up. You might be able to contact people on your team’s behalf through e-mails or telephone calls. As assistants, it is our duty to see that things run as smoothly as possible for our boss and for the entire team of executives. Go the extra mile and you won’t regret it!

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Kathy August 1, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Everybody has to do more with less now and it creates time problems. Supervisors don't mean to make you feel left out or that you are bothering them, they just don't have enough time. It is a matter of setting up procedures that will save time in the long run and developing a culture of following through with them. I have standing meetings with my supervisor twice a week where we address office issues that include things I need to be in the loop on. Since his schedule gets very tight, my meetings can get scheduled over but we make it a priority to reschedule. It may mean meeting after regular office hours, but that is a normal part of the job. One practice that we have found very helpful is that he copies me on emails he sends and forwards me emails that he receives that contain information that I may need. One of his admin team will also email me information that she feels I will need. He also encourages people to copy me on emails. I develop a tickler list/time line with this information and make it a priority to review it during our meetings. This helps to keep both of us on track and to keep things from slipping through the cracks. Another thing my supervisor does is to keep a pad of paper on his desk and as he thinks of things during the day or after I have gone for the day he writes them down and then gives it to me in the morning. I also monitor his calendar and will make it a point to ask him if there is anything I can do to help him get ready for his meetings the next day or if there is anything I need to followup on from a meeting. Do approach your manager in a positive manner? Instead of saying you feel left out, indicate that you would like to do more, are capable of doing more, to help the office/business run smoother. Be prepared with positive suggestions on how you could be more involved, give examples of how these suggestions could help save time. Good luck and don't give up if something doesn't work at first.

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Lynne July 29, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Since you didn’t say what you had to dig up – ask if there is someone in particular that you should be going to for questions so that you aren’t bothering them. Maybe you can ask around and see what you can find out in your department. Once you have that information you could compile a file so that you won’t have to ask in the future.

If this doesn’t work or you are asking the right people, I would try to talk to them about it. Ask if you could have a 15 minute meeting with whomever you would speak with and voice your concerns. Respectfully of course, explaining the situation you feel that you’re in. Let them know that by having to spend that time digging up the information costs the company money and wastes your time that could be better spent on other projects. You’ve got a job to do and you aren’t able to do that job without that information. Hopefully that will help.

If not then put something in writing to your supervisor or management and HR, expressing your concern. Going through the chain of command is necessary if things don’t get better.

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Susan July 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Patty, I think that is a great idea. As an admin, I used to have to take Board meeting minutes and create an “Action Items” sheet for the meeting which showed who was to follow up on what. This made me instrumental in following up to make sure things actually got done. I usually knew better than the executive director who was to do what because I had to carefully reference the minutes for action items and type up the action sheet and figure out reasonable deadlines, thus I was always in the loop.
PS I worked at other places where meeting minutes did not have the Action Items page …. many things just didn’t get done because the people who needed to do it weren’t named on the action sheet and deadlines weren’t given.

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Jeana July 29, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Sandra, I too have had this problem in the past. It seem to come with the admin position. It is a constant struggle and really it just seems to boil down to persistence and education. You can’t take it personally. Sometimes you have to explain why you need the information. Sometimes you have to let deadlines slip by so others see the impact not getting you the info has. One thing I have started doing is sending a list of items (for each project) via email, note the status and highlight information that I’m still waiting for. I include a deadline and flag it for a reminder popup. For some projects, we have weekly status calls. This seems to be working fairly well although I still have to follow up sometimes. But it is better than it used to be. It is frustrating but keep on pushing!

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Tori July 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I’d like advice on this, too, as well as, the EA’s who work in this firm. Actually, this seems to be a pretty rampant problem. Even when we explain to management why we need to know something before it happens, the response is you don’t really need to know. Make the changes and adjust once it happens. They don’t do any of the work that is involved. They don’t get it. If had a manager title, everything would be different. Some of us do manager work but lack the title. It still doesn’t change anything. We are left out of most meetings and are not allowed to attend. There is a very tight lid on keeping info confidential and following an attitude of a need to know basis. Funny thing is, leaks stem from members of management. Ironic. Isn’t it?

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Patty July 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Oops, Patty again. I had a typo in my first line and that’s what happens when you don’t proofread your work. I meant to say, “…what your position is…” Sorry about that.

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Patty July 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Sandra: Since you don't say what you position is, I will base my response on my own experience. I am an executive assistant and have been for many years with many different bosses. When I first realized that I needed more information on items I was dealing with, I offered to attend weekly meetings to take minutes for the team.

This has carried into my current position, which supports five smaller departments. I had a performance review a couple of months ago, and one of my objectives is that I attend at least one meeting per quarter. I have so far attended one meeting and one off-site planning session, which has helped me understand my role a lot more. I can now contribute to the team and get a warm reception when I am seeking further information on just about anything.

I hope this helps get you started and good luck.

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