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 am the executive assistant of a medium-size, 24-hour-operation, family-run healthcare company; this is my eighth year of working here.

Recently, the HR manager and I decided to change the format and distribution process of our corporate newsletter from once a week to once a month and from offline (print copies) to online (as all of our employees now have e-mail accounts). We've found that this saves paper, time and money for the company and that many members of management prefer to receive it this way.

We've also upgraded the quality, going from a two-page black & white publication with ho-hum, everyday news to a snazzy-color Microsoft Publisher newsletter complete with insightful articles about employees (including a monthly spotlight feature), corporate teamwork (quoted articles from sites like monster.com), and, of course the regular content (anniversaries, employees of the month, notes from the different divisions announcing meetings, kudos for a job well done, etc.).

We've also posted the newsletter on our Web site and e-mail out a link to all employees so they can read it whenever they want or download copies. Employees get every-day access to their e-mail accounts both at work and via Web mail when home.

The problem is, despite all our efforts, we've gotten the impression that no one is reading it. It's really important that people DO read it because it contains important information about mandatory procedure changes, meetings and the like.

Management wants the newsletter to keep being published, and we enjoy putting it together. We've tried putting in a monthly contest to get people to read the newsletter all the way through, but the rate of response is tremendously low, and we're finding that many people simply aren't checking their e-mail.

Short of going back to print copies (which we've left out for people to read ... which just get left out), and stuffing 250 copies of the newsletter into 250 paychecks once a month, what other ideas have other admins come up with to interest people in reading your corporate newsletter?

Feedback is much appreciated!  -- Frustrated in Upstate N.Y.

Question: There were quite a few responses to my request for an Excel timesheet that were requesting to receive copies of any samples, but some did not contain an e-mail address. My employer has a filter that won't permit me to post any additional comments on the message board, but I can reply to those who have provided an e-mail address.

If anyone wants to e-mail me directly, my address is jfaber1@columbus.gov. Thanks.  -- Joey Faber

Question: I have worked for my employer -- a large company with more than 1,400 employees -- for eight years now. When I started working here, the amount of contracts we processed yearly was manageable. More recently, the number of contracts processed annually has tripled, and keeping track of them has become a task that isn't really assigned to one person.

Getting a contract through the process and returned signed and completed takes constant reminders to the individual responsible for that particular contract. On average, we have to send four reminders to an individual for each contract to be reviewed or completed.

The executive assistant to the CEO has been undertaking much of the responsibility, and I have been pitching in when I have spare time, which is hardly ever.

Does anyone have an easy process to track contracts when routing for various signatures or reminding different managers/directors/VPs when a contract is due for renewal or review and then following up with them to make sure it was completed? Do you have one person who over sees this task? What is his or her title? Does he or she have any other job duties?  -- Lindsay Anderson

Question: We have two or three regional meetings a year, and my boss -- the EVP -- likes to have employees' comments after each meeting. He wants to know if they feel that they benefited from attending; to rate the presentations/speakers; to see if they feel we can do something better or improve on; and, of course, for their suggestions for future meetings. He also wants them to be "anonymous" so employees feel they can comment how they like and not how they think we want.

I have searched the Web numerous times -- even Microsoft templates -- to find a feedback/comment card template, etc., but have come up empty-handed. Does anyone have any suggestions and/or templates of their own they can send?

Additionally, because employees have no time at the meetings to give us their comments back, they will need to take the forms with them and submit them once completed. Do you have any suggestions on how to go about this so when they're returned to me, via U.S. mail, I won’t be able to know whom or where they came from?

Thanking you in advance for your any assistance I receive.  -- Brenda, bsamartino@kimcorealty.com

Question: How is everyone preparing for the flu season? Do you provide flu shots to all employees at your company, bringing in a nurse to do it onsite? Do you reimburse those who get flu shots out of the office? Do you take any other preventative measures within the company?

We hand out alcohol and disinfectant wipes to employees to use in their areas throughout the winter season. We are considering providing flu shots.  -- D.L., Philadelphia

Question: I work for a nonprofit agency and we are revising our job descriptions. Currently, my job responsibilities fall under several categories: Department Secretary, Office Manager and Steno Supervisor.

I like the "Senior Executive Assistant" title. Does anyone have a job description for this that includes: job summary, essential functions, accountabilities and minimum requirements (education, special requirements, experience)? Thanks.  -- Debb, Buffalo, N.Y.

Question: I have a question: What is a virtual administrative assistant?  -- Sandy

Question: I started at my company as a receptionist and was happy for a year. Then, the VP turned the position into financial assistant. I HATE financials and am not qualified nor good at them, so I tried to come up with solutions but was told that, if I wouldn’t do financials, I could leave.

After a year-long hiatus (during which I found out the VP had been fired!), the CEO of the company asked me back to become his executive assistant. This was a huge jump for me ... and him, as well, as he has never had an assistant and I have never been one. Nor do I have a bachelor’s degree!

I know that this is a fabulous opportunity, because I know what most companies require of an executive assistant recruit and I don’t have the years of experience and degrees.

The CEO is extremely happy with my work, and I love my job! "This doesn't sound like a problem!" you’re probably thinking.

Other than being here when the CEO is here to support him with those "oh, by the way" moments, I could fit my work into 20 to 30 hours a week! I’ve tried numerous times to take more responsibilities, ask for more tasks, get him to hand stuff over. But he's so used to doing everything on his own that he's consistently doing things that I later find out about and remind him that I’m HERE FOR THAT! Yet, he continues to do them.

He’s a great boss -- the best I’ve ever had -- but I feel frustrated because I don’t know HOW to prove to him that I really AM here to do EVERYTHING for him!

Right now, creating files, printing documents, arranging his schedule and taking calls only when he's unavailable is not reaching my potential nor challenging me! I don’t know what else to DO to get him to realize that I want to free up his time by doing everything for him. I can’t even get him coffee half the time, because he jumps up to do it himself!

I want to be worth my weight and also want to prove that I'm worthy of a raise (as I am in the lowest 10 percent pay scale because of my lack of experience). But right now, I feel that my potential is being stunted because I can’t get across to him that I really want to DO IT ALL: I want to be a sort of cross between executive assistant and personal assistant, freeing up his home time as well as his professional time.

HELP!! Any suggestions, comments or recommendations are greatly appreciated! So far, all the advice from peers in this field has been to "Ask him, talk to him, tell him," which I've already done. It’s time for me to do something MYSELF, but I don’t know what!

I’ve got a stack of 30 books on various subjects (Professional Secretary, The New Executive Assistant, The Assertive Advantage, The Valuable Office Professional, etc.) and have tried to do everything under the sun that I can, and I ALWAYS end my e-mails with "Please let me know where I can assist you," as well as checking with other departments.

It’s all the same: They just don’t realize how MUCH they can delegate! Help!  -- Liz

Question: I know before I start this that I'm going to sound like a shrew, but there is just no tactful way to put this.

I'm an executive secretary/admin for our company president and vice president of sales for a privately held manufacturer. We have about 500 employees at this location, and 150 of them are office personnel. Only three admin people serve this whole office. As I said, I have two executives and numerous requests from other managers, corporate personnel, as well as field sales personnel.

This is my complaint: On numerous occasions, we've catered lunches for meetings and mill visits. These meals are always delivered, served and taken away with little disruption of an admin’s day.

My VP of sales, however, is forever deciding to have a "working lunch," for which I have to order, pick up and deliver to him and others. This is at least one day a week, unless he’s traveling. Occasionally, our president will request this service, also.

These are usually orders for only three to five people, and none of the restaurants or fast-food places in our small town will deliver for fewer than 10 orders.

I have to spend my cash, my gas and time out of an already-busy work day to do this. I'm reimbursed for the money, but that in itself is a hassle, with forms and signatures required. Most of the time, it’s the next day before I can get it back.

To me, this seems to be an unreasonable expectation when my work load is already heavy. I'm not allowed to work overtime to catch up when I’ve lost an hour from my day.

I assure you that I'm not lazy. I love everything else about this job, but these too-numerous lunch requests are dragging me down.

Please don’t suggest that I try talking to the execs. When someone complains about their job at this place, it comes back to haunt them at review time. Also, please don’t suggest that I find a new job. I’m almost 59 years old and would like to retire from here. I’ve out-lasted four presidents and seven VPs, but I’m getting too old to be patient!  -- Elaine Cornwell, Senior Executive Secretary

Question: Does anyone have an Excel spreadsheet used for time-keeping purposes? I would like to set up a bi-weekly timesheet in Excel for our employees that will calculate their total daily and weekly hours automatically based upon their arrival and departure times (including lunch in/out). But I can't seem to come up with the correct formula or format.

Our government agency also keeps time in tenths of an hour, with 6 minutes equaling one-tenth of an hour. I'd greatly appreciate any assistance or samples!  -- Joey Faber, Fiscal Assistant II, Columbus, Ohio

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