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

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

Question: I am a 30-year employee of a nonprofit health care facility who has worked her way up in various departments from the Business Office to Administration.

I recently discovered that my title had changed from Administrative Secretary to Secretary. (This came to light only because it's my evaluation month.)

My immediate boss of nine years has always given me very good ratings on my evaluations, and I have received extra merit increases. This title change will make a substantial change in my salary.

I'm very disturbed at having my title changed to be the same as other secretaries within this department. First of all, I do not perform the same functions; second, my duties incorporate a higher-level responsibility.

I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions on how to handle this.  -- Joyce in Illinois

My boss is too busy

by on September 29, 2006 10:30pm
in Admin Pro Forum

Question: I work for a boss who’s so busy, I feel like I never get to speak with him unless I walk (or sprint) down the hall with him on the way to his next meeting. We do occasionally meet one on one, but his travel and meeting schedules are so jam-packed that we haven’t been able to set up anything regular.

His interpersonal skills aren’t the greatest; he may not be comfortable in one-on-one meetings.

On top of the fact that this makes it difficult to do my job sometimes, I’m worried about my career. How can he know that I’m doing a good job unless he’s around to hear about it?

Does anyone have advice for working around a boss’s unavailability?  -- Anonymous

Question: Does your company have any policies or guidelines (implied or not) regarding employees who solicit purchases for their children’s school fundraisers?  -- Anonymous, California

Question: I was promoted recently and am responsible for training my replacement, a transfer from another department. I was the first person to fill this position, so all of the processes are ones that I created. The documents handled in this department are very sensitive and become legal documents.

This person was hired without my input and while the supervisor of the department was out of the country. We were informed rather than asked about these changes by upper management.

My replacement has very little Word or PowerPoint experience, and almost no Excel experience. The position prepares PowerPoint presentations for the corporate officers and board of directors, as well as for international branches of the company.

My frustration stems from the fact that she thinks she knows so much more than she does and doesn’t ask questions; she assumes she knows what she is doing. I have prepared instruction books and step-by-step manuals for her to walk her through the processes, but she won’t use them. I have asked her what I can do to help her; she acknowledges that she isn’t using the tools she has. I have suggested that, in her slower time, she play in her software programs and learn them. She has label-making down pat, and her files are beautiful, but she still doesn’t know how to work her scanner. (Yes, I have gone over it with her ... more than once.)

She has been working in this department now for six weeks and is still making the same mistakes she made the first week. Her supervisor is out of town frequently, and it's up to me to "teach" her. I've been keeping a log of things we go over each day and problems that arise and have gone over this with her supervisor. He is currently back in town for a while and wants to start throwing things at her to see how she deals with it. He's still asking me to help him out.

I am very busy in my new department and really don’t have time to do my job and hers. I'm getting to the point that I just want to watch her sink on her own but still feel very responsible for the documents that are being sent out. I don’t feel comfortable going to upper management, since her supervisor is taking a wait-and-see attitude, but it’s killing me to see what she's sending out.

Has anyone else dealt with a situation like this? Any advice at all would be appreciated!  -- Pam from Oregon

Question: National Boss Day (Oct. 16) is fast approaching, and we're looking for a really great way to celebrate. Our company is being sold, and most of us won't be together next year, so we want to find a really fun way to let our bosses know how much our years together have meant.

If anyone has done something in the past that was warmly received by their executives, we'd really appreciate your sharing it with us. We want to knock their socks off this year.

Last year, we hosted a cookout on the roof of our building. It was really fun, but we need something different. Please help!  -- Linda

Question: I work for a small social services nonprofit. I am the No. 2 person in the organization, with only the director over me.

As the senior case manager, I supervise the case manager under me. She and our boss have similar personalities and, lately, have started doing some after-hours socializing. Several of these instances have involved her being invited, by our boss, to events outside of work hours, but that provide many networking opportunities.

Although I don't know why I haven't been asked to attend any of these events, I suspect that it's because I am a single parent with two small children. (Both my boss and the girl I supervise are single and childless.)

I may or may not attend these functions if invited, but I'm uncomfortable with the situation. I feel it's appropriate for the boss to be socializing with an employee, and I'm afraid that this relationship may affect MY position at work negatively.

I could use some suggestions about handling this situation.

Thanks!  -- Christy
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