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: It doesn't happen often, but whenever an employee is terminated, we struggle with how - or if - to announce it to the rest of the employees. It's such a sensitive issue. How do you let people know without affecting morale?  -- Kristin, Seattle

Question: One of my co-workers becomes defensive when I or anyone else offers constructive criticism. The last time I made a suggestion, she acted very offended and said she felt that I was telling her that she wasn't doing her job well.

We share a workspace for part of the day, and I'd like to suggest a more effective way to keep the area neat and full of resources for others who may have to cover in our absence. How do I broach this topic with such a sensitive co-worker?  -- K.R., New York

Question: We are trying to create a recognition program for salaried employees. What criteria does your organization use to recognize salaried employees?  -- Anonymous

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: Our manager consistently underestimates the length of time it will take to complete work. This affects my colleagues and me on a number of levels: 1. The manager is regularly late for meetings, and meetings with the manager generally go much longer. 2. The manager rarely answers questions or completes her own work on time. 3. The manager promises too much to clients and insists that the rest of us in the office stop what we are doing so we can try and meet unrealistic deadlines at the last minute. 4. The manager routinely questions others’ time estimates for both minor tasks and major projects. This has, on occasion, resulted in disputes. Is there any way for an office or an individual to assist someone to become more realistic? One thing I have done in regard to # 4 is outline all the projects, tasks and meetings I have on the docket when I am setting a deadline, so the manager knows what is happening, and we agree on the deadline. This has been somewhat successful, but I find it frustrating. It is also embarrassing, especially in meetings. I also find it difficult to quickly list all my priorities. Thank you for any suggestions you can give me!  -- Discouraged in Vancouver, B.C.

Question: How does a supervisor report staff mistakes without sounding like a whistle blower?

I am an HR and admin support staff member. I am burning out and demotivated!

I supervise the work and check reports of two staff. I have to constantly check and have the reports redone.  If it’s urgent enough, I redo them myself.  I am so tired of this. But if I ever bring it up to my manager that it’s getting increasingly difficult for me to get them to be productive without personally spending time on them, her comments and action on that feedback shows that she either thinks I am undermining them or that I am being overly critical.  I am neither one and, to prove my point and not to seem like I have a personal agenda, I decided to forward the reports directly to my manager for her to get a realistic idea of these staff and weigh their feasibility.  I wanted her to see that the time and effort I was spending on these employees was taking away my time and the quality of my work.

Overall, she is a very friendly and helpful person, and I suspect that her handling of the situation is due to the different cultures we come from. But I do need to understand how to approach and resolve this.

When I started, I was also a fresher to this field. But I got some brief training and I grew into the job without much trouble or supervision. One of these staff has already been here more than 6 months and the other around 5.  I think that is more than a fair period for their training.  I went all out to give them more of a long leash to get the hang of things without blowing my top, although I got very frustrated often.  I even covered a few mistakes for them so they wouldn't lose nerve. I allowed them freedom to try their own hands in a few tasks, instead of insisting on following the existing procedures, AND have been encouraging and appreciative of even the smallest accomplishment.

In the first few weeks/month of their appointment, during a discussion when my manager was wavering on her decision to keep them, I was the one urging her to give them a little more time to get thorough!  Looks to me like I am playing by every rule in the book but I am getting a raw deal!

Earlier, I handled all their jobs single-handedly and welcomed them and went all out to get them going, thinking they would be a help.  But it has turned out to be much, much more stressful this way.

With other staff, I come across several employee issues/suggestions, which I consider my duty to report to the management for solutions and improvements.  These are genuine employee concerns that I refer to.  Since I am very approachable, people who wouldn't normally complain find it easy to confide in me.  I am able to feel the pulse, so to speak, and can make a whole lot of things better … IF my manager would take me seriously.  Right now, she cross-checks my feedback, which is fair enough.  The problem is that she communicates with certain staff who are very good at misconstruing the facts.  She believes them, since they are both senior to me and are smooth talkers, and my point is weakened.

Should I just clam up and keep with me all that I see and hear?  Am I overplaying my role?   I am so committed to making a difference that being quiet about things like this is not easy!  -- 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

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

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