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’m supposed to compile a list of FAQs for our company Web site. Does anyone have some advice for me? Have you done this for your company Web site? How did you go about choosing content without getting too general? (What does ____ company do?)

Any advice is helpful and appreciated! Thanks!  -- Liz

Question: I'm going to be taking on the responsibilities of someone who is leaving the company. What's the best way to ask for added compensation for this, since they aren’t going to be paying the person who's leaving? I just don’t want to be taken advantage of.

Thanks!  -- DH

Question: First of all, thanks to everyone on here who takes the time to network in such a great manner!

I'm an executive assistant without a college degree in Atlanta. I was home-educated through graduation in 2003 and excelled in my studies, many of which were on a college level. I’ve read extensively (marketing and economics textbooks, communications, administrative handbooks, and so on) and want to take the GED soon.

After I take the GED, I plan to continue on the path toward an associate's degree, and I really would appreciate and value any advice. I’m not sure where to go, what to study, how to pay for it, how to get in, etc. I’ve read SO much online and in books, but everything is so geared toward high school students.

I’m also interested in information possibly from those who were also home-educated and have made the transition or those who didn’t finish high school but later returned to finish a degree.  -- Wanting to learn in Atlanta
Question: It's my boss. While he is a very intelligent man, he spends too many hours a day playing games on the computer instead of completing his work. Last week, he had some priority jobs to complete. When I asked him about it, he said he was Christmas shopping.

I have called him on it and told him he isn't fooling anyone; we know when he's not working. I've told him that his delaying completing his work is affecting my work. He nods sheepishly but does nothing to improve the situation.

Some of his work relates to getting clients to pay their bills. It all seems to work out in the end, but I'm at my wits' end and don't know what to do anymore. The four other men in the office do their work, but a lot of what my boss doesn't finish affects them, as well.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I would appreciate your help.  -- Kim

Question: I have an employee who called in and indicated she wasn't going to be able to come to work today because her daughter is sick.

Other employees in our department have let me know that she'd been telling them that she was going to ask if she could book the day off, as she was moving this weekend.

This is our busiest time of year and everyone is working extra hours to keep on top of the workload. If she had asked for the time off, it would have been granted, providing she was willing to make up the required hours.

This is very frustrating to the other employees and to me. Any ideas on how to handle this? Should it be addressed with the employee?  -- Frustrated in Windsor, Ont.

Question: I'm the HR representative in a small financial-planning firm. We're looking for a really good executive assistant to support our three principals, but we're having trouble weeding out the candidates who sound good from the ones who really are.

Has anyone used a type of skill test to give at an interview, or can you point me in the right direction?

We're not asking for anything more than a very good, competent, organized person, and I know they're out there. Does anyone have any advice for this situation?  -- jodietz

Question: I am the executive assistant for the CEO/president of a small (45 employees) company. The boss frequently travels, either on business trips, family trips or hunting trips. While he's gone, he might check his e-mail once a day, but he relies heavily on me to check his e-mail, handle things that I can, return calls, answer questions, etc. Usually, once a day, he’ll call and get any pertinent info from me.

He gets about 30 e-mails a day and one or two calls. About five of his e-mails contain something that needs to be handled; most are simply “junk.”

When he’s around, I have JUST enough to keep me working very slowly. I feel as though I'm not used to my potential; I really prefer to be TOO busy! I have assumed all the responsibilities he will allow, I assist others in the company as much as I do him, and do a lot of research on potential customers, partners, vendors, etc., without being told. I have PLENTY of initiative, I go above and beyond constantly, and I do a lot of things. But when he's gone, I literally could get all my “work” done in one hour a day!

It’s very frustrating, because I don’t feel like I’m worth my paycheck, sometimes. But there’s nothing I can do to remedy it. He has specifically said I’m doing more than he would ever ask and that I’m capably handling SO much and the folks in the office all have their jobs to do and any offers of assistance I give are usually politely declined. I mean seriously: I don’t feel like he needs me to be in the office while he’s gone. We have a telephone system and VPN, and I could literally work from home and be JUST as available.

I don’t really want to push for that, because he really doesn’t like folks to telecommute. He likes them to be in the office, especially me being the “face” of him when he’s not here. Inevitably, things arise that I might need to make a decision on.

I paid for an online continuing-education course from a local college and have been doing my studies at work. Seeing as it’s an administrative course, I don’t feel bad about that. But after that, I'm still left with three to four hours a day with absolutely NOTHING work-oriented to do because I have DONE IT ALL, already!

My long story boils down to this: Should I look for another job that's more fast-paced and I feel like I’m worth my paycheck?

Should I try to talk to him about working part-time while he’s out of town?

Should I feel guilty on a day like today when our gas has been turned off due to a leak the gas company has to locate, I feel sick (several employees have the stomach virus going around), have a headache, have nothing to do, have received ONE single e-mail in two days that I could do anything with, and made a copy of a receipt for one other person? Should I be feeling guilty for checking my e-mail? What am I missing?

I’m so frustrated because I have a VERY strong work ethic and a fast-paced mentality, one can reorganize the files only so many times!

HELP! I don’t want to be watching the clock!  -- Liz

Question: During a performance review, how do you tactfully discuss with an employee -- point out to an employee -- that he or she spends way too much time visiting with co-workers in surrounding cubicles?  -- Jean

Question: I work at a very large corporation. Our small department is at an off-site location, so as the administrative assistant, I also work at the front reception desk.

We have a somewhat laid-back atmosphere, and I like that. But when I'm on the phone, I can barely hear the caller.

The source of my problem is twofold:

First, it's noisy in the room. Often, many loud conversations are carried out right by my desk. Also, the guys just have loud voices that carry across the room. Some people hold conversations across the room. Very often, impromptu meetings are held with vendors as they come in.

To deal with this, I’ve tried to talk on the phone near the corner wall of my desk. (We have 5-foot-high sheet-rocked walls around our desk areas.) I’ve tried to let my co-workers know when I'm on the phone with a friendly wave to my co-workers or by asking the caller to hold and then asking my co-workers to keep it down. That's been a temporary solution. My supervisor is aware the problem and tries to remember to not hold meetings at my desk.

The second problem is the phone system: Everyone here has a hard time hearing callers. To cope with this, I often have to apologize to callers and ask them to speak up or to repeat what they've said. Because I'm at the front reception desk, I can't go to another location to speak on the phone.

I researched this problem with our telecom department. I've tried using a handset with a volume control, but it doesn't work on my phone, nor does a headset.

For several years, I've talked to my supervisor about getting a better phone system. A new system would actually pay for itself within two years. Our department manager is aware of the problem, yet a new phone system is never put in the budget.

Since I'm not getting any support from my supervisor or my manager, does anyone have any other ideas to survive the room noise and poor telephone system?  -- Anonymous

Question: I’m trying to buy a Microsoft Office 2003 exam-preparation CD bundle with all Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) simulation questions/answers for Microsoft Certification.

I’ve done a little research and found a few companies that advertise themselves to be the best in passing the exams, etc. The ones I found are: Transcender exam practice, Measure Up, Go Certify and Self Test Software, by Kaplan.

Before I invest, I'd like to ask:

1. Has any one of you used any of these products and, if yes, which one would you recommend and why?

2. How much did you pay for the bundle CD for Office 2003? How many CDs did you get in the pack, and where did you buy it from?

3. Does anyone know of any Web sites that discount any of these products?

4. Can anyone recommend where to buy the exam vouchers? Or do any Web sites offer discounted or free vouchers with product purchase?

5. Do any government Web sites in Texas offer any prep materials/resources for this kind of certification?

Thank you in advance for your valued information.  -- L. Smart, Dallas, Texas
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