Admin Pro Forum

Share best-practices with your administrative peers. Pose a question, offer advice, or just be a fly on the wall.

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Question: "I've heard many times from colleagues and people close to me that I'm just not assertive enough to really get ahead and achieve the things I want. But this is the way I've been all my life and I'm not sure I can change. Does anyone know of some good first steps to try?" - Mercedes, Fashion Assistant

Question: "I've been at my new admin job for three months now. It's going fine, except the place where I work has to be the stuffiest, least fun company ever. It's totally quiet all day with almost no interaction, and there's no real culture, no fun events to look forward to. If it weren't for brief friendly words in the kitchen with co-workers now and then, I think I'd go nuts! I don't expect to be able to change the office's ways—I'd just like to know how others have managed to stay upbeat and energetic in a sleepy atmosphere like this." - Madison, Contracts Researcher

Question: "After two years on the job, I've been given permission to come up with my own job title—my boss doesn't put much stock in them. Right now I'm basically your average administrative assistant, but I wonder if sprucing up my title will look good on a résumé or LinkedIn should I need to look for work somewhere else. Who knows, maybe I could gain more credibility here in the office, too. Should I call myself something a little fancier, or is there a downside to it?" – Melanie, Rehoboth, Del.

Question: "The company I work for caters every meeting no matter how brief, spends thousands of dollars for a service to keep office plants looking nice, constantly renovates to add TVs nobody watches and parking spaces nobody uses. I guess we can afford it, but I'm considering discussing this with my boss. I'm wondering about other admins' experiences with bringing up the delicate subject of the company throwing money away on extravagant things. What's the best way to go about it when I'm not totally sure how else that money should be spent—only that it seems enormously wasteful?" – Annabelle, Transcriber

Question: "The one thing I don't like about my new admin job is that we have to rate our co-workers every year! I'm dreading filling out that form. It asks us to rate people on a scale from 1 to 5 in a number of different work categories. The ratings are anonymous, but I'm afraid being really honest will cause resentment and strife if someone receives an accumulation of mediocre ratings. Realistically, wouldn't it be better to avoid giving 1s and 2s no matter how I feel, and just let our manager deal with visible performance problems?" - Monty, Tech Documentation Specialist

Question: "I've always hated the queasy 'new job' feeling that makes the first week at work so uncomfortable and uncertain, and now that I'm settled in as the head of my admin team, I really want to make new hires feel completely at ease from the very first morning they come to work for us. Does anyone have any tricks for getting someone to relax and take the first few days totally in stride?" - Wallace, Lead Admin

Question: "I have to send out 50 email invitations to a formal business dinner for important donors—the first of many, I think—and I'm really not sure how to address the recipients or phrase these invitations. There'll be no attachment. What should such an email look and sound like? In particular, what about the greeting, conclusion and subject line, and should I include any images or designs to give it a different tone than a normal email?" - Angelina, Membership Coordinator

Question: "A co-worker recently came back from a vacation during which she obviously had some cosmetic surgery done. We've all been pretending not to notice, since we're not sure how to compliment her new look without making her feel self-aware about how she accomplished it. Is this a case where we just need to keep mum even if we think she might possibly like that someone noticed the change?" - Frannie, Assistant Sales Manager

Question: "I am responsible for keeping the keys and the scheduling calendar book for our two company vans. I constantly have employees walking into my office, e-mailing me or calling me to see if a van is available. They are used by employees for going on sales calls, running company errands or attending meetings, conferences, etc. I would like to automate this process so everyone can view a calendar on their computer to check availability and reserve a van on their own. Could we use Outlook or SharePoint? What method would you use?" - Lisa, Administrative Assistant

Question: "My boss wants me to research all-day team-building activities that, in her words, will 'make people suffer a little.' Her theory is that we all need to have our cushy office lifestyles totally stripped away to kick us out of our comfort zones and remind us of how to work together on a more human level. What have been others' experiences with these sorts of 'pleasantly harsh' activities, as she refers to them? What should we try, and what should we avoid?" - Donna, law office admin
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