Admin Pro Forum — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 80
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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: We interviewed a job candidate for a position with our company. We did not select the individual, but I sent a letter thanking her for taking the time to interview with us and that we had been successful in our search. I stated that we would keep her resume on file for 30 days in case a similar position opened up.

This person has written back asking for "constructive criticism" (feedback) on how she can better present herself in an interview. She is also asking if her business references gave negative recommendations, and if so, she wants to know their names so that she does not use them in the future.

How would you handle this situation? I worry about possible lawsuits. For the record, I did not receive any negative comments from her references; we simply chose another candidate.  -- Anonymous

Question: I would like to learn about other companies' employee pension plans. We employee 29 people, have about $1.2 million annual payroll, and want to set up a pension plan program. Also, I'd like info on life insurance, e.g., amount per employee, cost per thousand, etc. Any info would be appreciated.  -- Jean

Question: I am organizing a meeting in Coventry UK for a large group of top level executives and quite naturally it needs to be close to perfect. Does anyone have a meeting checklist (preferably for large groups) that I can use to make sure everything I need to consider is taken care of (travel, room reservations, equipment, meals, etc.)?  -- Anonymous

Question: I'm a seasoned EA who joined a small firm a year ago. Because of my experience and background, I've stood out to the firm's management. Yesterday, I was told by the CEO that I will now be supporting him, and his current assistant (who is lacking) will be reassigned. To me, this is a promotion but no additional salary was brought up. Our raise reviews are next month and he said that my review will be handled by my current boss (senior partner). Should I bring up salary with the CEO or should I wait until next month? I probably make more than the other assistant but my salary is in line with salaries in my city.  -- Anonymous

Question: The company I work for needs to freeze their defined benefit plan due to underfunding and expense of the plan. As the HR person I would like some insight from others who may have experience with such a matter. Also I would like suggestions on other retirement plans to consider that would supplement the frozen accrued benefits of defined benefit plans, etc. ( I work for a small bank with about 30 employees.)  --  Blue Eyes

Question: My boss has several direct reports that he meets with individually each month. After each meeting, my boss gives me his notes and I use them to assign tasks. We are looking for some software or a system to track when the tasks are assigned and a reminder when the deadlines have occurred.

We are aware of the “Tasks” feature in Outlook but we don’t want to connect everyone’s Tasks to his Calendar. He uses that as his “To Do” list as he tracks his own Tasks. I thought of an Access database but I can’t get a deadline reminder to pop up. I don’t know much about MS Project, but I thought that might be an option. I’d appreciate your suggestions.  -- Keisha

Question: I work in an office of about 25 people. I am in charge of HR responsibilities and other duties. A question came to me regarding paid time for people to smoke. Right now, we have 4 or 5 smokers in our office and they have normally taken two smoking breaks during the course of the day. Each break is for 15 minutes. While our policy manual does not specifically state that employees are allowed to smoke, it refers to brief coffee breaks. Are we required to pay our employees while they are outside smoking? I am afraid our non-smoking employees will say they are being discriminated against because they work a full 8 hours and the smokers are only working 7.5. Can we change this situation in the middle of the year or do we have to revise our policy manual and wait until the beginning of a new year? Can anyone give me some suggestions on how they handle this in their office or how their policies read regarding smoking?  -- Anonymous

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.

I 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.)

I 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 down.

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

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