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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: I work for a government contractor in Washington, D.C., with fewer than 15 employees. I was hired three years ago as an accounts payable clerk, but my duties are more along the lines of an administrative assistant. The pay is good: I've gotten a raise two of the past three years.

But I'm debating whether I should stay or go.

I haven't left yet because I have such a great boss. He is very supportive and understanding of my being a single parent and part-time student. (I'm a year and a half away from my bachelor's degree in accounting.) He allows me to bring my child with me to work whenever necessary and take time off during midterms and finals to study. Although he is great to work for, I feel like I'm not making any progress professionally.

My problem is that I'm bored at work. I've tried asking for more, but there isn't more for me to do. My other problem is that I spend roughly about four hours a day commuting. I make the trek every day because of the flexibility I have.

I'm questioning if having a job with this much flexibility is worth this amount of unhappiness. Any thoughts?

Thanks.  -- Feeling stuck and unhappy

Question: I am a human resource coordinator who handles payroll, benefits and related work for about 100 employees, and I am being "forced" in very stern written communications from my direct supervisor to "fully cross-train" a co-worker "in all aspects of all duties and provide instruction and access to all documentation."

This co-worker does the same job as I do, but for a separate division of our department. She handles approximately 60 employees.

This is a very unusual circumstance; not warranted, in my opinion. (We do the same job but for different employees.)

The other side of this story is that this co-worker (female) is very good friends with my direct supervisor (male). They tell each other everything, and my co-worker has been asking me for all of my information but has told me nothing about her job. It's almost as if this cross-training is a ruse, convincing me that they just want my information so they can easily be rid of me.

I have been having some health issues lately. I have fibromyalgia and perhaps lupus, along with some other issues, and have had a lot of physician appointments. But my work is always completed, no matter what I have to do to get it done. Nevertheless, I cannot help but feel as if they are pushing me out.

What should I do? I have been complying and have been cooperative and nice, but I am not happy.

Please help!  -- Being Pushed Out in Ohio

Question: I work for a company that has multiple locations with only three to five employees each (arcades located in malls). Our store managers have to deal a lot with employees showing up late for their shifts and calling in absent after their shift has begun, as well as no-call no-shows.

Because we usually have only one person on duty at a time, this can become a nightmare for the store managers, who have to cover shifts when employees don't show, causing lots of overtime and double shifts.

I'm trying to come up with a new attendance/tardiness policy and would like some suggestions. (We have a "No verbal warning" policy in place; everything must be in writing.)  -- Carey, Dallas

Question: I need help organizing/cross-referencing file folders. My boss writes the name on the material and keeps it in either his office or mine. The problem occurs when he has a new or follow-up meeting that some of this information could pertain to; we can't locate everything because different names of folders may apply to similar information, etc.

This has been ongoing but now is occurring more frequently. Please help. Thanks.  -- Donna

Question: I am an administrative assistant for the president of my company and I feel I'm not being utilized enough. Does anyone have any suggestions or suggestions on books to help me get my boss to utilize me more? Thank you.  -- Anonymous

Editor's note: The National Institute of Business Management publishes two books that might help you:

  1. Results, Recognition and Rewards.
  2. Supercharge Your Career.

Find ordering information about both -- as well as about Personal Report for the Administrative Professional -- at www.nibm.net.

Also, you might check out How to Get From Cubicle to Corner Office, by Joel Weiss, and Become an Inner Circle Assistant, by Joan Burge.

Question: I am responsible for processing check requests for payment. Sometimes, though, people don’t save detailed receipts to back up their expenses.

What resources out there can help clarify what the IRS expects employers to keep for record retention in regard to travel & meeting reimbursements for employees? Also, are there penalties if the employee cannot provide detailed receipts?  -- Anonymous

Question: My boss, I believe, has a problem with ADHD. Sometimes, he bounces off the walls and is very difficult to keep up with. I try to keep up with him, but lately, I am exhausted by mid-afternoon. I am at the point that I am so frustrated because I am running in circles most of the time.

My boss will tell me he needs to schedule a meeting or various meetings throughout the day. Then, two minutes after we have met regarding his files/meeting requests, etc., he asks me if I have set up the meeting regarding a topic that he never asked me to schedule. So, I continually have to check and re-check my notes for who the invitees are for meeting A or B; then, I have to ask him if his question relates to scheduling meeting A or B. His normal reply: "Oh, no. This is another meeting I am talking about."

Many times, he forgets to give me all of the details.

Are you aware of any books that would help administrative assistants who work with bosses with ADHD? I would like to know how to set up boundaries with my boss, who cannot seem to focus.

I have set up color-coded files; I print meetings from his calendar and attach to the top of a folder for each and every meeting; I arrange files on his credenza; I keep a large, orange "Please sign" file for signatures; and we meet daily to plan meetings, plan projects and to follow up regarding unfinished projects.

I need some help as to how I can become a more efficient assistant to my boss. Any suggestions?  -- Frustrated in Michigan

Question: We're implementing a new policy: All personnel (secretaries/receptionists/admins, etc.) must give one month's notice before leaving the company. If proper notice is not given, accrued sick leave/vacation (paid time off) is not paid out.

Office managers have to give two months' notice. I don't know where you would apply for a job and they would wait that long for you.

I'd like to hear what other companies' policies are.

Thanks.  -- Kenda

Question: I'm looking for suggestions on "measurable goals" or SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) goals for administrative professionals.

Thank you!  -- Jennifer

Question: I recently was put in charge of organizing an event for the staff that would have us bring in our baby pictures and guess who is in each picture. I would like to make it fun so everyone will want to participate. Does anyone have any ideas of what to say on the invitation?

Thanks!  -- Debi
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