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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: What advice do you have for an admin who is new to supervising others?  -- Anonymous

Question: I work for a company of about 1,700 employees, spread out among about 50 different locations around the U.S. and the world.  My boss is a director of the largest finance department of the company, and is constantly needed in various teleconferences.  He depends greatly on his Outlook calendar to keep him informed of what's going on, but it is always inaccurate.  His executive assistant is the person who has access to his e-mails and to his calendar, and whose responsibility it is to keep them updated.  I am an assistant secretary to her, and a project assistant for the 45 other people in our department, from whom the majority of my work comes.

One of my job responsibilities is to regularly check our various Share Point sites, through which the departments of our company work together on different projects.  Meeting schedules are usually posted on these sites when they first put them up, but after that, meeting changes/announcements are made via e-mail (which I never see).  My boss is constantly asking me whether or not I am completing my job duties, because he doesn't believe that the updated meeting information has not been posted to the sites.

It is really the executive secretary's responsibility to keep his calendar up to date, as she has the access to all of his information.  However, when we have talked about this issue, she says that it's not her fault; it's that the people sending out the updates do not always include my boss on the "Send To" list!  Additionally, three different people might send out e-mails about the same meeting, the meeting might be referred to in three different ways, and also, the time zones are not always stated and are never consistent.  (So, she finds it difficult to always be on top of this).

I don’t know how to make sure that my boss's calendar is kept properly.  He seems to be blaming me, even though I have no control over or access to the information.  How do I help him with his schedule, and how do I show him that I AM doing my job well?  -- Anonymous

Question: I’ve been trying to think of ways to increase my workload around the office.  I do the usual assignments, but many times, I find myself without enough work to fill the entire day.  Do you have any suggestions?  -- Anonymous

Question: My boss is a saver. He saves just about every e-mail, needed or not. He is a physician and vice president of a very large health care system. Thus, I understand why he feels the necessity to save everything. The problem is that he "drags and drops" into different folders set up in an archive (.pst's) e-mail tree within MS Outlook. Unfortunately, the .pst files are very vulnerable to self-corruption. (MS Outlook is a very good e-mail system but not such a good "filing cabinet.") He recently lost all of his files due to self-corruption of the .pst files. Our Information Technology department was able to get most of them back after running back-up files.

I’m looking for ideas on how others save their e-mails. My boss loves the drag-and-drop feature due to its ease of use and efficiency. He’s also open to changing his ways on how he saves these e-mails but I need to figure out a better way without using the unstable .pst files. I do know that you can do a "save-as" on e-mails and save them as Word documents, but that takes numerous steps and isn’t very efficient. I’m working with an IT tech and we’re trying to self-educate by getting ideas from others. I am at a loss for what else to do.

Thank you for your thoughts.  -- Michelle G

Question: The policy on my job is that employees cannot be paid money outside of their regular salary. An employee will cater a training session, but because she is a regular employee, this is supposed to be a no-no. She will be paid through a separate check (other than her paycheck). It was pushed through the director and finance manager, even though they know the policy.

Now, I have to have a training session catered and I’m using an outside caterer. I now look like the bad guy even though I’m following the company policy. I'm looking for other employment, but how do I handle this situation?  -- Anonymous

Question: I recently attended a seminar for administrative assistants and one of the participants described a program she initiated at her workplace. Corporate travelers are asked to bring any unused travel-size soaps, shampoos and lotions from their hotel stays back to the office. The products are collected and donated to local homeless and domestic-abuse shelters. I'm interested in beginning a similar program for my employer. Does anyone have any background information about related programs or advice on how to start?  -- Ann, Wausau, WI

Question: I am the administrative assistant for a company of about 45 people.  We do billing for multiple facilities, so I am answering the phone all day long. That's besides my regular duties: I also have to scan and distribute the mail, and help the president and vice president with daily duties, not to mention month-end duties.  I also put everything together for new hires.

I do much more than just answer the phones, which is what I believe my co-workers think I do. I am pulled very thin.  Then, I have staff members who need something done NOW.

I love where I work and I don't plan on leaving. But how do I say: "No, I can't help you right now; I have my own job to do"?  Any suggestions?  -- Tami, Wisconsin

Question: A four-year employee has taken a nosedive in her performance. It all came to light when another employee quit a year ago. So, this has been going on for one year.

She has made several serious mistakes, all of which she has an "answer" for.  Even when I showed her the mistakes in black and white, she just said "Hmmm. I don't know what happened."

I have had three serious reviews with her, threatened to have her use her one-week paid vacation to contemplate working here, told her flat out  that her job “is on the line.”

She is pleasant, almost too pleasant at work, never complains, but rarely accomplishes anything.
I need her position filled with a capable bookkeeper. She knows a lot about our particular business, so training someone new will be a long process. Our employee pool in our community is severely limited.

I need help making a final determination to keep her, reduce her hours or just cut my losses and move on.

I have a small bookkeeping company; the clients like continuity.  HELP!!!!  -- Shelley Weiser

Question: I'm an executive assistant to the president & CEO who, in his 23 years of business, never really had an assistant before. He's mentioned once or twice that he doesn't know how he ever did it without me.

I think he understands the benefits of having an assistant, but he still does not "keep me in the loop" as I expect he should, mainly concerning his schedule. I sit in a room directly behind the receptionist and next to his office. He'll walk right by me and tell her where he's going to be. I thought maybe it was because she's been here for so long, but he also does that with the temp who is currently filling in for the receptionist.

From the road, he'll call everyone else—rarely me—and tell them what he's doing for the day. I have told him that to successfully perform my job duties, I need him to communicate his schedule to me. I even set us up on a shared MS Outlook calendar to make it easier. He said he would try harder to keep me informed, but it's not working. I'm thinking about calling him every morning to check in. Is there anything else I can do?? Please help!  -- A.S.

Question: I have taken on the task of creating an internal newsletter.  We have 14 employees (4 professional engineers, 7 consultants and 3 admin staff) located in 7 different states.  Our internal communication is very weak due to workload and the geographical distance.   Our company consisted of 5 employees in the same office until 2 years ago.  I feel that an e-mailed newsletter would be a good way to communicate with everyone.

I created the first newsletter in Dec 2004. The content varied, with Christmas funnies, a calendar of coming events, family information, a note from the president and a few other things along this line.  There wasn't much response.  However, the response I did receive was negative: "The newsletter was not informative."  I spent approximately 3 weeks (on/off) developing the newsletter in Microsoft Publisher.  I'm not giving up yet but would appreciate any advise from someone who performs this task.  -- Tressie Escamilla, Richardson, Tex.
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