Question: Three years ago, I joined my company as a receptionist. Having worked
previously in management positions for several years, this was my “foot
in the door” position with a well-respected company. After less than a
year, I was promoted to an assistant position.
For two years,
I've been extremely successful in my position. I've trained new staff
that was considered upper management and have filled in when we lacked
employees. I'm now in a position that I got by default when a co-worker
left, and I am miserable sorting through papers and numbers.
have continuously been told that I am great at my job and my boss can’t
afford to lose me in this position. My interests lie in a more hands-on
management-type position, and I'm becoming extremely frustrated that
I'm not being transferred because I excel at my current job. To make
matters even more complicated, I am the youngest person in the office
and have been told to “be patient.”
There are also conflicts
with some of the older women in the office, to the point that they've
tried to have me fired. (My boss supported me 100 percent.)
work in a male-dominated field and get along great with most of the
people in my company. How do I make my manager understand that I want
more responsibilities? How do I reconcile with the older women and make
my managers forget the past? -- Anonymous
Question: My company has
recently gone through a series of “reorganization” changes.
In the past year, we have seen at least four massive cuts in staff. The
goal is to decrease size and increase productivity. After
the most recent episode, we were told that there will be no more cuts.
Because of the stress these cutbacks have created, morale is now
extremely low. If anyone has any advice on how to deal with this or how
our company can lift morale, I would love to hear it. -- Survivor
Question: I am a recent graduate of an admin. assistant program and am at my first job. I have responsibility for 10 people.
I have a boss who gives instructions, policy changes and training orally.
I understand why he/she doesn't have time or desire to write things
Is there a program or a way in Outlook so that I can make notes that will
be permanent? The information he provides will go into a training
brochure for new staff.
Any suggestions will be appreciated. -- KJ
Question: I work in the audit department of an
accounting firm. We've recently undergone many changes, and now I'm
responsible for all aspects of audit administration, from typing to
copying, binding, invoicing, shipping and keeping track of audit status
on all audit clients.
Since we didn't have someone already
doing everything, I have no set procedures in place on how to do
things. I like to be organized and efficient, and I'm trying to create
a tracking system to keep track of all audit clients, from engagement
letter to completion. Could anyone help me with these three things?
- General procedures for audit administration or audit secretary.
- Audit-tracking system or template.
- Contacts for assistance, such as Web sites, books, seminars, training, etc.
Question: I have two concerns and
I'm hoping for some advice on either how you've handled it or what you
think I ought to do in these situations:
receptionist at the company where I am executive assistant, although
relatively friendly and engaging with co-workers, is rather cold and
unprofessional on the phone. Instead of saying “May I ask you to hold
while I transfer you?” she says either “Hold on a moment” or “Just a
I once said in a somewhat jovial manner: “You sure
sound happy about answering the phone!” She jovially replied that I
should go back to my desk and handle my job and let her handle hers.
I'm not her supervisor, although typically, I should/would be. Instead,
HR supervises her.
The HR administrator and I have gotten into
small, uncomfortable situations because the boss will tell me to handle
something, and HR will have a cow thinking it’s their project or should
be their responsibility.
That department shows a severe lack
of respect for the boss’s wishes. The boss can ask for a roster of
folks attending a seminar, and I can ask for it twice in the following
three weeks and still, the day of the seminar, there is no roster. HR
indicated that it was waiting on two VP’s. But, when VP’s were asked,
they indicated that HR was handling it, not them.
translated this sort of behavior to the receptionist, so that when I
ask her, for instance, if someone shipped a personal expense on the
company DHL account, I’m told: “Don’t worry about it; it’s not your
department, and I’m not going to take it up with them.”
I signed off on a work order with the A/C maintenance company, and
the repairs took a day longer than they promised and our server room
temperatures rose dangerously high.
I talked to the manager at
the A/C company and suggested in the future that he at least call to
let us know that the repairs would be delayed. He then contacted the
receptionist, who comes to me saying she didn’t know why I was going
off on him when it wasn’t my place to worry about it, But I SIGNED OFF
ON IT. It was my responsibility to see that it was done.
general attitude from HR/the receptionist is “Stay out of it,” even
though the boss has directed me specifically to take responsibility for
such things. I happen to know that the receptionist is close to losing
her job because of the way she handles the phone and also visitors,
whom she handles in much the same manner.
at a loss as to
how to handle it. If I go to the boss, he’ll tell me to talk to HR and
her and “get her straightened up or shipped out.” If I deal with HR,
I'll get a tossed head and rolled eyes and a mutter about people
staying out of HR’s business. The receptionist will get yelled at, but
nothing will be accomplished because HR simply scolds and doesn’t
deliver a change or even a direction to change. If I talk to the
receptionist, she'll dismiss what I say and tell me to go back to my
do I handle these situations? I'm normally a people pleaser, but also
am very disciplined in what I believe is expected from someone in a
professional position ... especially one as high-profile as a
receptionist (first impression of the company).
I can’t stand
it when people don’t do their jobs right or take pride in even trying.
Yet, I do like the receptionist and view her as a “work friend.” I beg for advice of you wise people! Thank you! -- Anonymous
Question: My boss is the head of my company and a genius-engineer type. He must have his contacts in a book
rather than an electronic format. Currently, I use Outlook 2003 and have created
a contact binder with tabs for Home, Personal, Medical, Business, etc.
My boss wants several contacts from the same company to be seen under
one company view (one contact name under the other with phone numbers under the
master company header), instead of several separate views. He also would like to
see the database sorted in different ways, but he wants more configurable views
rather than the several choices of view from Outlook.
In relation to
this, I have several questions to other admins.
- Would a skilled Outlook user be
able to change the contact format and contact views into a more easily read
format? If so, where could I get the training/knowledge (i.e., training CDs,
courseware or live training) to do this?
- Does anyone know
of any other database program out there for personal contacts that is very
detailed, flexible and configurable? (We've already scrapped
Thanks for any help.
-- Karen Kosmoski
Question: Having been here five years, I'm the newest person in my office. I'm also the
youngest admin here by at least 20 years. However, I have 15 years of experience
as an administrative assistant/office manager.
Recently, I was given the
task of developing some training programs for admins. Can anyone suggest how to
begin this sort of program, given the fact that, while I've received many
compliments from "higher ups" on my skills and efficiency, some admins think
there is nothing more to learn ... and, especially, nothing that I can teach
them since I'm the "young thing," as they say.
I don't want to come
across as a know-it-all, but at the same time, some people haven't bothered to
keep their skills current and there really is room to grow. -- Ann
Question: How do you not get stressed out working
as an assistant to two very powerful personalities? One has the effect of a Mack
truck when he approaches me. The other tends to be highly critical and extremely
articulate. -- Carolyn
Question: I'm responsible for planning team-building exercises for a team of eight people. Does anyone have
any great ideas of things to go out in the community to do that are fun
but also will teach a leadership skill? -- Bonnie Rohrer
Question: I'm looking for a basic administrative-assistant outline format; something
I can refer to for most outlines. Occasionally, I have to set up an
outline for routing schedules, chairman responsibilities, time lines
for other departments, etc. -- Gina