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How do you make sure a fellow admin doesn’t become ostracized?

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Question: "My company recently hired an admin who doesn't quite fit in with the personalities around here. She's shy and some people think she's a little odd, but she does her job well enough. I'm worried that after only a month, she seems cut off from the other admins and is being isolated through no real fault of her own. Does anyone have any ideas on how to 'rescue' someone like this and make sure she doesn't become the employee people just don't care about?" - Livvy, Brokerage Assistant

See comments below, and send your own question to Admin-Pro@nibm.net.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa - !! October 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm

@ Everyone: As a matter of fact, I am a very nice person and go way beyond what is required of me at work. I am friendly, a hard worker and a team player.

@ Livvy – did you make an effort and the person didn’t respond? Feel free to try again. But if you keep pushing it, the person might retreat further and think that your just too push/nosy. Being the first person to engage once or twice is fine. After that, why bother. You never know, the next person could be your new bestie!!

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Joyce October 23, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Your concern is admirable. I’ve been approached by some managers to coach introverts on their team. Deep down I’m an introvert but can become a “performing extrovert” at the office. But first it would be good to find out if she is okay with her situation, and you can coach and mentor her in areas that she may need help. You’ve already shown that you care. You don’t need to like and make friends with people you work with so she should be enouraged just to be able to have a friendly and professional working relationship with them. Assigning her to something that requires her to be involved with others, and giving her insight on how to work with various individuals is a good start. If she is doing her job well, the relationship building will come in time. Some people take longer than other, and that’s not always a bad thing.

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Robert L., Admin Pro Today October 23, 2014 at 9:40 am

Did someone say ‘Next question, please?’ I just posted the new one over at adminprotoday.com if you want to hop on it before the e-zine even comes out. Thanks for all the responses, and keep up the clever thinking!

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Lisa - !! October 23, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Thanks Robert!!

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Eliza October 22, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Next question, PLEASE! Clearly from the responses we have a wide array of varying opinions. The bottom line – to me anyway, is when a new person starts a position – they are new to everything – the work, the systems, and the culture. It takes time to form enduring, working relationships with co-workers and some just never do. This person’s supervisor hired her for her skills, not her ability to make friends. I doubt if male employees spend as much time worrying about such things. At some point, the work needs to be the measure of success.
Also, I truly believe the onus is on the hiring agency to ensure employees acclimate and understand the systems, people and culture.
Lastly, do the best you can with helping this person fit in to your workplace. You will never know the full scope of her capabilities until she is able to relax and be herself. As Admins, we have all been that new person before. It is not always easy and it can ‘feel’ bad when you are not part of something or the group. Just remember how that feels and keep trying to help her find her way.

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AYM October 22, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Sorry, I hit send before going back to add. I wanted to add that although we are free to express our opinions, it’s just not nice to call people names (re: calling the admin an idiot) and especially when you don’t have a clue who this person is or what they are about.

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Mark November 6, 2014 at 2:02 pm

I agree. The one and only reason I stopped commenting regularly many months ago was because I noticed that this forum has morphed into something it didn’t used to be. Previously, there was a question and people gave their helpful responses. For awhile now, there seems to be too many (not a lot, but even one is too many) people attacking/insulting the person who asked the question or attacking/insulting responses to the question. I used to feel like I was reading a forum by a group of office professionals. Often I now feel like I’m reading a high school forum. I sincerely miss how polite EVERYONE used to be with each other.

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AYM October 22, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Last week was my first post, as I just recently joined Administrative Professionals Today. I was very excited to contribute my opinion and to also hear what others had to say on this issue. However, I’m very disappointed with a remarks that was said to Lisa!! in response to her honest, rightful opinion. Although I don’t agree with how she feels, she is entitled to have her own opinion and should not be underhandedly attacked because of it. Let’s please keep it classy and professional ladies and focus on how we can assist Livvy in solving her office issue. Hope everyone will have a wonderful rest of the day!

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Theresa Kasel October 22, 2014 at 1:34 pm

There was no underhanded attack. It was clear and directly addressed the issue. And, since you are new here, you are probably not aware that Lisa – !!’s posted responses are rarely helpful and usually derogatory remarks about the person asking for assistance in resolving an issue. This is not helpful or professional and does nothing to make the site useful to anyone.

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AYM October 22, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Yes, you are right that I am new to the site and therefore first impressions are everything. What I have observed from my first time, is that Lisa!! called some unknown person an idiot, which was very inappropriate and wrong, which I addressed in a separate message. I then observed that your response to her comments were just as inappropriate and unprofessional. Although very direct, it was also underhanded and very aggressive (which means unfair, wrongful, sly and so on). Unless you work with her or know her personally, it is unfair to insinuate that “our LW this week is realizing that she’s part of a gossipy group and is looking for a way out” and it was certainly wrong and passive aggressive to say “Your response this time actually had some useful information rather than your usual snark and snottiness.” With that being said, this is only my opinion based off of what I have observed today. I have to refer back to my earlier suggestion that the focus should be on helpful comments to assist one another so it will be great to work each other and keep it professional. If any of us find ourselves in a compromising position where we can’t draw the line between personal and professional, then being a part of the forum may not be a good fit idea for that person. Good day everyone!

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Treva October 22, 2014 at 1:50 pm

AYM, everyone is entitled to express their professional opinion. However, when it is expressed in a malicious way towards someone we don’t even know, it needs to be addressed. There was nothing underhanded about what was said nor was she attacked. We are all supposed to be professionals and offer advice to the admins who are writing in with their situations without the need to call people names.

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Treva October 22, 2014 at 8:46 am

I agree Theresa! This is a professional board where we should be providing advice to our fellow admins and Lisa – !!, if you do not have anything nice to contribute to the conversation then please do not respond. You do not know this admin so to call her an idiot is not nice nor warranted.

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Lisa - !! October 21, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Perhaps the new person doesn’t like any your fellow co-workers. If you give a friendly “hello, how are you” and she doesn’t give one back, don’t waste your time. Life is too short to be a friend to an idiot,

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Theresa Kasel October 21, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Do you give any useful advice — ever?

There’s a lot of missing information in this post like have they invited her to join them for lunch or break? Or, do they just assume because she isn’t outgoing there is something wrong with her.

My advice: never take Lisa – !!’s advice.

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Lisa - !! October 22, 2014 at 10:31 am

Well, I don’t particularly like the question posed this week. No one needs to be “rescued”. As an admin myself, I always make an effort the first week (second if the new person is in training) to stop and say hello to the new person and try to get to know him/her for about five minutes. I tell him/her that if they need anything, I’m available and perhaps we can grab lunch sometime soon. After that, it’s in their court. I don’t chase after anyone.

Livvy makes no indication that she even approached the new person. If that’s the case, Livvy is just as guilty as everyone else in making the new person feel unwelcomed. If Livvy did make an approach to the new person and the new person is not responsive, then Livvy should just cut her losses and try again when another new person joins her company.

If the new person is standoffish and then wants help in the future, I wish the new person the best of luck in finding someone to help them out.

Life is too short to be chasing after people.

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Theresa Kasel October 22, 2014 at 11:11 am

It would seem that’s the cause every week (that you don’t particularly like the question.)

Your response this time actually had some useful information rather than your usual snark and snottiness.

I personally think our LW this week is realizing that she’s part of a gossipy group and is looking for a way out.

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Monica October 23, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Lisa – do you talk like that @ work? I wonder if your boss read your posts you wouldn’t be snide or start flaming on an Admin Professionals site. Perhaps you should think about that the next time you start to respond to any of these questions. And if you don’t “like” the question, there’s nothing requiring you to post.

I hope you are able to find a way to filter your thoughts and bring constructive discussion. This is the LAST place I expect to see these types of juvenile posts.

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Lisa - !! October 23, 2014 at 5:24 pm

@Theresa – your comment “I personally think our LW this week is realizing that she’s part of a gossipy group and is looking for a way out” – who is LW? Do you mean Livvy? If so, you’re jumping to conclusions that she is gossipy without hearing her full story. That’s not right either.

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Theresa Kasel October 23, 2014 at 6:23 pm

LW = letter writer, so, yes, I am referring to Livvy and it’s based off this quote:

“She’s shy and some people think she’s a little odd, but she does her job well enough. ”

It could be that’s she’s participated in the gossip — which that comment says happens — and wants to stop because it’s a negative influence. Or, she has yet to realize how this is influencing her behavior.

I, personally, find it commendable that she wants to do something to ensure this person can feel part of the team.)

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Maria October 20, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Make that Admin your “personal” office friend. Include her, encourage her. Help her, through her office friendship with you, to slowly get to know others.

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Anita October 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Maybe she can be engaged on a work level (such as board meetings, office celebrations), where she is included to print agendas, set up conference rooms, etc. especially if she does not avail herself to personal lunches. Over time, she may feel more comfortable knowing who she can trust or with whom she feels comfortable. You didn’t mention if the admin herself has made any effort to fit in. If not, then it is possible she prefers to be left alone.

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Eliza October 16, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Diversity in the workplace includes introverts and extroverts – meaning there is just as much value in what an introvert brings to a team. They are typically the types that can seriously focus on tasks much longer and with more gusto than extroverts. But it seems your dilemma is based more on her ‘fitting in’ which shows you care that she can ultimately be a solid part of that team. I don’t think anyone consciously ostracizes themselves in a new position. Clearly, she is shy and may seem ‘odd’ to the rest of the admins but based on very little interaction, with her peers and her being fairly new I guess she could use a mentor or someone assigned to help her better acclimate to the group. Maybe that will be you!

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Theresa Kasel October 16, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Everyone has offered great suggestions, so do those things and I’m wondering if anyone has ever asked her to join you for lunch, break, etc.?

It may be that your office culture is that at noon, those who want to go to lunch together, just go — but as the new person, so probably doesn’t know that and is waiting to be invited to join the group.

The other thing you can do is when people start to make negative comments about her (or anyone else) stop the conversation by either changing the subject or addressing the comment with something neutral like “My observation is that she does her job well. Everyone is different. Did anyone see the baseball game last night?”

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Treva October 16, 2014 at 4:57 pm

I find that going out for a group lunch makes an admin feel welcomed, included and helps them get acclimated to the organization’s culture. Some people are very introverted, but you if you make them feel like they are part of the group instead of ignoring them or completely ostracizing them, you may help them open up more with co-workers. You could set the example for the admin group by interacting more with her which others will definitely notice.

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AYM October 16, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Since she is shy, she may prefer the comfort in staying to herself. She could also be intentionally ostracizing herself to avoid the office politics. However, if you notice that she is not purposely leaving herself out and that she is being ostracized, be an office buddy and approach her with genuine conversations that will help her to gradually open up. This could also cause your coworkers to feel comfortable with conversing with her and including her in more activities.

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Marcella October 16, 2014 at 4:29 pm

In my opinion, when a new employee comes into a group as an admin, it is important for the present team to welcome her/him, even in the smallest way possible. Being an admin requires a certain type of personality and for some people, especially when new to a company; it can feel like the kid who walked into high school middle of the year in 10th grade…awkward. As we are all so busy nowadays, if a luncheon is not possible because of scheduling, taking a moment to walk over and introduced yourself and extend support in helping them get adjusted and/or to review processes and procedures, not only does this offer encouragement, it also shows the great work ethic of the company they just joined. Coming into a new company, no matter the size, is also coming into a whole new “family”, we have to admit we seem to spend more time at work sometimes than with our own family.

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Melody October 16, 2014 at 4:23 pm

I agree with Bethany that she may already be at an involvement level that feels comfortable for her. If she’s an introvert, it could feel punishing to her to have to be more social with her colleagues. If that kind of involvement will benefit her professionally there, then I’d let her know and offer to help her engage. Otherwise, I’d give her some time to settle in and make her own way.

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Bethany October 16, 2014 at 4:07 pm

She may want to be left alone and out of office politics. Just be friendly and let her come to you when she is ready.

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LP October 16, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Be as inclusive as you can, i.e. invite her to lunch, company gatherings,etc. Get to know her and build a relationship. Others will likely follow. At some level, though, she will also need to make the effort to integrate and building relationships in the office.

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Billie October 16, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Have an Admin Asst luncheon. Take them all to lunch get to know her on a more personable level. Perhaps they will see they actually have things in common. Our Admin used to be the shy awkward type. Our manager took us all to lunch and wow, after getting past her shyness factor and getting to know a bit more about her, she’s a really neat person not to mention a fantastic Admin!

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Lisa October 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm

I think if you make an effort to take her under your wing, it will help a lot. If other folks see you interacting with her, they might be more likely to join in.

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