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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 are discussing how to alphabetize our file folders, and our problem is twofold:  First, some people are good about putting files away as soon as they’re done with them; others just toss them anywhere until it becomes an all-day project for someone (usually one of the two administrative assistants in the office).

Second, not everyone agrees on “rules” to follow. Should “The John Smith Company” be filed under “J” or “S”?  We’re a fairly small office (20 total) that has grown significantly over the past few years. When there were fewer people, everyone knew that if you needed to find the “XYZ Corporation’s” folder, it might be under “Bob Jones,” because he owned it!!  We’re trying to convince people that newbies can’t be expected to know that.

Any help or ideas would be appreciated.  -- MK, Massachusetts

Question: I’d like to ask admin assistants and receptionists (front desk personnel) to share their tips on how to deal with constant interruptions.

We are a front desk staff at a nonprofit medical facility. We take care of visitors, set up appointments and answer a lot of questions from associates, as well as collect money, enter data, bill insurance and contact various departments to obtain information.

We have a small staff. The front desk person is required to be the front- and back-office staff for this facility.

The appointment book and central file area are located in the front office. Staff members come into the area to check their appointments and they walk through the area to get to the files and their mailboxes. There was another door they could go through to get to files, but, due to HIPAA regulations, it is now kept locked.  To get some confidential work done, we close our door. But people come in, anyway.

Thank you.  -- Anonymous

Question: Anyone doing something special for Bosses Day? Last year, we had a potluck and put together a game and a slideshow about the bosses, but we're having trouble coming up with new ideas for this year. (Oct. 16 is Bosses Day, but we'll celebrate it on either the 14th or the 17th.)  -- Evelyn

Best admin tips

by on September 23, 2005 5:30am
in Admin Pro Forum

Question: I'd like to ask other admins to share their very best tips about how to do their jobs effectively — whether it's something about organizing their workspace, managing time, file management, working with bosses or other co-workers, etc.

Thank you!  -- Lisa, Tacoma, Wash

Proofreading tips

by on September 23, 2005 5:30am
in Admin Pro Forum

Question: I am a fast reader, which is an advantage in many areas, but proofreading is not one of them! I have no problem with grammar and punctuation rules, but I seem to miss at least one typo in every document! Thanks for any tips anyone can share.  -- Marilyn, St. Louis

Proper filing

by on September 23, 2005 5:30am
in Admin Pro Forum

Question: I work for a real estate company that manages apartment buildings. Problem: Proper filing as it pertains to our building names. Each apartment building we manage has a name, i.e., The Residences at Morgan Falls.

When I put names in the database, should I be filing those apartments that have the word "The" in their name under "T"? Example: "The Residences ..." Is that to be filed under "T" or "R"?

When people are looking for the name in the database, some people look under "R" and assume it's not in the database, and some people look under "T" because they are including the word "The" with the name. Which is proper?

When we refer to some of these properties, we call them by name, i.e., The Residences, or The Estates, but I thought I remembered that, a long time ago, there were something called "Proper Filing Rules." That's when the word "the" was part of a name. It would be presented like so: "Residences at Morgan Falls (The)." It showed that the word "The" preceded "Residences" but it allowed the name to be filed under "R".

Help me, please. This is driving me nuts as what to do about filing our property names.

Thanks.  -- Anonymous

Question: I work as an exec. assistant in a medium-sized business.  Given my computer knowledge, I was assigned the responsibility of helping to maintain our company's ever-expanding Web site, which details our company's history, current events, newsletter, etc.  We began this project 3 years into my employment with the company and at that time, hired an outside consultant who runs her own Web site-development company here in town to help me.

She and I grew close, and I considered her a co-worker in all aspects of the word, even though she worked in a consultant role for my bosses and wasn't technically an onsite employee.  We e-mailed back and forth every so often every week for several years, and the site grew to be the best it had been in a long time.  Her areas of expertise lay in the artistic-design area of Web site design, and any technical issues were passed on to her Web site admin host, who was usually very quick to resolve any issues at all.  I usually don't cross ANY line between work and personal life, but in many ways, I felt like we knew one another as co-workers more than my OWN co-workers.  I invited her to my wedding; she came and gave me a lovely gift and we were able to chat that day and say hello.

With the sudden onslaught of spam on the Net about a year to two years ago, her Web site admin had technical issues of his own and we suddenly started experiencing an onslaught of spam e-mails.  Things got really, really bad for a period of time during which we experienced lost e-mail and problems with being able to retrieve and send e-mail.  Each time, I worked with this woman and she told me the same thing: It's a technical issue; it's out of their hands. This is an overall problem affecting everyone online these days. There's nothing they can do about this right now. Keep deleting it.

My bosses finally got fed up and, because of this very issue, "fired" her by literally telling her that we would not be renewing her contract.  I can't say I blame them from a business standpoint: It was really wreaking a lot of havoc, AND there are such things as spam blocker programs out now that work!!.  My bosses didn't tell her specifically WHY they were doing this, just THAT they were doing it, and kept me out of the loop.

The problem is this:  I have been too embarrassed to keep in touch.  I don't want to bring up what happened and I know it is probably a sore point because we were, at that point, her most long-term client.  It isn't anything personal against her that we had to end this business relationship, but I feel the loss of our contact.

Unbeknownst to my co-workers, my boss and this woman, I am currently considering a lateral job move to another company for personal and health reasons.  I need all the local references I can get, and I would love to use her as a reference but don't want to open up a nasty can of worms.   

Do I just keep quiet and not contact this person and chalk this up to "This is why you don't develop friendships with co-workers outside of business hours"?  Or do I shoot myself in the foot by not using this valuable contact?

Any suggestions?  What would you do?

Thanks.  -- Confused N.Y. State Admin

Question: We have an office of about 70 employees, about 55 of whom have face-to-face contact with the public. The owner would like all patients welcomed with friendly faces. Not all the employees are this friendly. They aren’t rude, but are very cold. They do their work correctly.

How do you make people smile without making them more unfriendly?  If they don't fit into the atmosphere we are trying to create, would that be crazy to let them go?  -- Anonymous

For busy professionals, every minute you have in the morning is precious, and getting out the door on time is priceless. (That goes double if you have a family to hustle out the door, as well.) What sorts of tricks do you use to make a fast exit and get to work on time? Email the editor your solutions at alice.b@earthlink.net and see them in an upcoming issue of "Personal Report for the Administrative Professional."


Question: Recently, the president of our company asked me to buy self-help and instructional CDs, along with several iPods, the purpose being to download materials from the CDs to the iPods and distribute them with our marketing materials to trainees who pay for training at our for-profit institute. I explained to my direct supervisor, who is the COO, that this may constitute copyright infringement, and therefore, could be an illegal activity.  She relayed this to the president of our company, who did not seemed concerned and, in essence, ordered me to copy these materials.  My question: If I do not copy the materials, am I being insubordinate?  -- Anonymous

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