Question: Has anyone put together a group program for the administrative assistants at their company to promote communication, education, training, etc? I have been asked to organize a quarterly meeting and I need a starting point. If anyone has done this and has suggestions or ideas, I would greatly appreciate the help! -- Anonymous
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Share best-practices with your administrative peers. Pose a question, offer advice, or just be a fly on the wall.
Question: I work in a small office with about 17 people. We have a kitchen in our office with a microwave, refrigerator and toaster oven. It has come to our attention that some of the kitchen odors are offensive to other co-workers and clients who may be in the office for a meeting. Even with the kitchen door closed, the odor permeates the office. In particular, onions and garlic were mentioned, but really, any strong odors would fall into this category.
It has been requested that a memo go out to everyone asking them not to eat things that have onions or garlic. My question is : How do you limit what employees can eat and how do you determine what odor is permitted and what is not? A lot of people bring leftover meals rather than going out to lunch for the sake of saving time and money, so this may create a problem for some.
I'd love to hear suggestions or if anyone has gone through a similar situation and how you handled it.
Thank you, -- Anonymous
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: 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