Alice Bumgarner, Moderator

Question: Let’s get ready for Administrative Professionals Week, April 23 – 27, 2012.  We want to hear from you! What aspect of your job do you find most challenging? What steps have you taken to overcome those challenges? —The editors

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Question: “Have you ever experienced age discrimination in hiring? My significant other and I have each been required to fill out background check forms that include our full birthdates and our college graduation dates. Even though the forms state that age will not be a factor in interviewing/hiring, it’s now obvious that we are over 50 years old. I see no good reason why these forms can’t wait until the company has made an offer or is about to. Do you? How would you handle this?” —Over 50  (Are you not yet a member of our Admin Pro Forum? Please join and share your advice with your peers:  Click here to join, it’s free!)

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Question:  “Our office lease is ending in a year and we are considering moving. We want to get input from all employees on what they would want in a new office.  Do you have any suggestions on the best way to gather information on wants and needs for a new office? If I design a survey, what sort of questions should I ask?” —Cathy

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Question: “I have been with my firm as a legal secretary, purchaser, database manager, etc. for 22 years.  I have always received excellent reviews and raises. However, at my last review, I was told I was getting to the cap for legal secretaries. I’m at a loss … I work anywhere from 40 to 45 hours a week (at my regular pay for 37.5 hours). I pick up others’ slack, I do what no one else wants to do, and now I’m told I’ve reached the cap and I probably won’t get any more raises. How is a person supposed to respond? I feel as though I’m being penalized for being a loyal, hardworking employee. Any suggestions?” —Capped legal secretary

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Question:  “I am thinking of upgrading my phone and would like feedback on how your smartphone has made your job as an EA more productive and efficient? I would love to get as many specifics as possible to help with my decision. Thanks!”  —Amber Shumperd

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Question: “I work for three directors who are all very busy. Their workloads have increased over the past year, thus increasing my workload.  I am able to complete my critical tasks, but I am unable to find time to do the less important tasks or projects that I have been asked to work on or take on additional tasks.  We are going to request an additional assistant to work for two of the directors, while I am assigned to the busiest of the three. I would like to track my time so that we have justification for the request, but I’m at a loss as to how to do that. Any suggestions or ideas from anyone who has done this in their executive assistant role?” —Busy E.A.

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Question: “I have a few dilemmas when working remotely. During a telephone meeting/conference call, how do you gauge the body language of the group when you’re the only one dialing into the meeting from home?  (And how do you get your 2 cents in on the speakerphone without interrupting the flow of the group meeting in-person?) Do you copy your boss on every email—even if it’s not info she needs, just so she knows what you are working on and/or that you are busy? And what’s the best way for a remote worker to replace the informal bonding that happens ‘around the water cooler’?”  —M.B.

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Question: “I work in a small office of 10 employees (an insurance company).  I work 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; all the other employees work full time. At times I need to pass work to others to handle in the afternoon hours. When I take the issues to the supervisor, she directs me to distribute the work to other employees, which they don’t appreciate. I get that. But my absence in the afternoon means that others are fielding my return customer calls. Regarding accountability and productivity, I feel that my boss and the owner want to see completion of a full-time work load in 62.5% time. Any advice on the best way to handle this? —B.B.

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Question: “I was terminated just before the end of my probationary period. I have my personnel file and there are a number of untruths in it. I had one self-evaluation which was signed and submitted prior to my taking sick leave for a heart catheterization. I received an unsatisfactory evaluation after my return to work. (My position was filled by someone who had formerly been in the office but left and was unhappy in her new position.) Was this an unlawful termination? I am more interested in suing the individuals involved, unless I can possibly get my old position back by suing the organization (or another position at the same location). I appreciate any advice.” — J.F.

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Question: “Recently I received an email from a manager reprimanding me for some work I’d done that was ‘not the best use of your time.’ He pointed to other projects that would be ‘a better use’ of my time. What upset me was that he also cc’d my direct supervisor. It was demoralizing. What happened to approaching someone directly with criticism? Now I don’t trust this manager. Has this happened to anyone else?” —Deflated by a cc

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