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
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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
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 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.
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: During certain times of the year, one of my co-workers is supposed to take over the responsibilities of my normal job a couple days a week because I’m working in a different department. This co-worker doesn't seem to care to do that, however, leaving either our boss to pick up the slack or me to continue with my duties on top of my assumed duties.
Well, it’s that time of the year again and my boss has said that she will pick up the slack. “No,” I told her. “It’s not your job.”
I have not directly said anything to my co-worker but did remind everyone it was that time of year. Having to do these jobs on top of my other tasks can be hectic, and some of my everyday duties are put off until the next day, which directly affects other co-workers.
We have always had trouble getting the president to act on any issues with this co-worker, so I don’t know what to do. Should I ask my boss to remind my co-worker of the change in responsibilities? Should I go to my co-worker myself? Or should I do nothing and let it fall on my boss, since she chooses not to say anything to this person? -- Anonymous
Question: I manage several administrative support assistants in an executive, senior management environment. One of the assistants has difficulty separating emotions from her job duties. She internalizes many business decisions either as personal attacks on her or reminiscent of personal relationships not related to work. Her feelings factor into many of her business decisions. As you can imagine, it is difficult to manage her performance.
Her interpersonal relationships with her co-workers and me are occaisionally strained. For lack of a better word, she is almost a bullying personality and is frequently moody. She is making minor mistakes on a more frequent basis, and appears to increasingly resent my corrections of them.
When confronted about her performance, she appears willing to accept and make changes, but is very emotional (crying) during these meetings. And as each issue corrects itself, it seems another one appears.
What is the message I am not understanding from her? What am I not doing that I need to do? How can this situation be corrected? -- Anonymous
Question: I have just recently been assigned to train our student workers for the receptionist job in a counseling center of a major university. The job requires them to do data entry and general office duties. I would like some ideas or forms I can use to track training problems. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated. -- Anonymous
Question: It's "annual review" time in our office. Each year, my supervisor asks me to write my own review and then we discuss it before he writes the final version. Since I know my job so well, I work independently and require no supervision. One of the questions on the evaluation form asks for "outstanding accomplishment(s) since the last review." I've been working at the same job for 27 years and am running out of adjectives to describe how great a job I do. There's nothing "new" to report and I'm concerned that I won't get the raise I think I deserve. How do you handle your annual evaluation without repeating the same things year after year? -- Anonymous
Question: Our company doesn't have one set of written travel guidelines. What is allowed for the production lab differs from what is allowed for the sales force or for an executive. Through the years, the company has grown, and administrative staff and managers have changed enough so that we lost the verbal guidelines once used. I have found four different documents that were written to cover different departments. I would like to pull them together into a company-wide guideline, but would like to see what other companies are using first. -- Anonymous