Mary Ellen Slayter

Question: “It’s been said that many of us are losing our face-to-face people skills because of computers, email, texting, telecommuting, etc. Since it’s easier than ever to get our work done in an impersonal way, without connecting in person as often, employees are getting cozy on their own little ‘work islands’ and may be forgetting the basics (and advantages) of constant human interaction. But do you think this is actually true—and if so, how is it making your job more difficult?” – the editors of Administrative Professional Today

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Question: “Everyone seems to have a different way of creating their to-do lists. I’ve always been interested in how they go about it, and what their lists actually look like. Am I the only one who just scrawls things in a big notebook and messily crosses them out? How many people use Excel, Outlook, sticky notes, legal pads, posters, whiteboards or even emails to themselves? Is there some method that seems to work wonders for admins?” – Joe, Editorial Assistant

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Question: “I have a co-worker who is good at her job but keeps getting in her own way with her many personality quirks. She just comes off as insecure, untrusting, high-maintenance and loud. Little by little the team is abandoning her in subtle ways. I’d like to know if I should help her merely by being patient and loyal, or if it would really be better to explain to her why exactly it is that she has so few allies left. And how would I even do that?” – Morgan, Laboratory Services Specialist

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Question: “I actually stress out a little when my vacation rolls around, because I feel I should work far ahead as a courtesy to the team so they don’t have to do anything for me that I could conceivably do in advance. Without them ever asking me to make that effort, sometimes I wind up working frantically because I don’t want to burden anyone during those two weeks. Am I doing the courteous thing, or am I unnecessarily taking on too much?” – Shayley, Tax Preparation Assistant

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Question: “It looks like my new job is going to require a little more office tech knowledge than I was prepared for. Just today I was asked to do something in Excel I wasn’t sure how to. What do other admins usually do when they get stuck like this and the clock is ticking? What’s their ‘escape route’ for finding a fast solution under deadline pressure?” – Mary, Registrar’s Assistant

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Question: “I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the concept of ‘managing up’ and how I should be more aggressively working with my supervisors, and even leading them toward decisions, so I can get ahead. Do any admins out there have examples of what they’ve done to be more like a manager of the people above them instead of just reacting to their needs? And did get it the result you wanted?” – Martha, Instructors’ Assistant

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Question: “Say your boss came to you tomorrow and said that starting in the new year, one and only one of your admin tasks is going away forever—and you get to pick which it is. What would it be, and what is it about that thing that you just can’t stand?” – the editors of Administrative Professional Today

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Question: “Before our holiday lunch this week, each member of the admin team is supposed to read our personal New Year’s resolutions from last December aloud at the table and tell about our progress on them—or lack thereof. Then it’s time to announce new ones. I’m against this idea because it’s bound to make someone feel a little inadequate and stressed at a time of year when we just don’t need that. It’s meant to be a fun activity, but what do other admins think—am I wrong to feel this is going to needlessly create more stress every year?” – Sasha, Service Desk Coordinator

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Question: “I have an admin friend who tells me that I should be documenting every single task I do in my job daily, with special detail given to any sort of small or large projects, which should have their own separate category. She says it’s the only way come performance review time to truly make a boss see what you do and what you’re capable of—because people tend to overlook so much of what goes into an admin’s job. I think I agree, but I worry it might make me seem a little obsessive and self-absorbed, as if all I care about is my own bubble. What do other admins think of this strategy?” – Gail, membership coordinator

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Question: “Our admin team is planning a little awards ceremony during the holidays. Some of the awards will go to those who have done great work, but others will be more tongue-in-cheek so we can all have some fun. I’m wondering what some good, clever awards categories would be to reflect what admins have to face each day.” – Bonnie, Admin Team Leader

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