Mary Ellen Slayter

Question: “I’m looking for a project tracking program for my department. We handle high volumes of licensure and construction projects for many different facilities, and they are very detailed with lots of moving parts. What software do you use for tracking your projects?” – Laura, Assistant VP


Question: “I have worked as an administrative assistant for seven years with the same boss. I have constantly asked for more responsibilities, as I feel I could do more—I’ll be graduating with my master’s degree in December. My boss seems to just brush my request off. At what point should I start seeking opportunities elsewhere?” – Natarsha, Administrative Assistant


Question: “We’re getting concerned where I work that the overwhelming amount of documents and data that we generate every day aren’t being safely stored and tracked. We have no one person whose job it is to make sure that important files, customer records, financial statements, logbooks, correspondence, social media content, even security tapes and cellphone records are properly handled and archived—it’s way too much for HR when every employee is churning out so much stuff on their own. Does anyone out there actually have a system in place to get a handle on all of this, or are most companies like us, just letting everything stack up in cabinets and fill up the computer network and hoping nothing vital gets lost along the way?” — Geena, Delivery Services Coordinator


Question: “I could have many more opportunities, and higher pay, if I learned French and could reply to emails from our French customers. At 38, though, I wonder if I really have the capacity to learn a different language just by taking a class three times a week—the local community college has a program. What’s the toughest thing people had to learn for their jobs long after they left school? I’m looking for inspiration!” — Erin, Imports Staffer


Question: “I take some criticism in the office because I’m a stickler for good grammar. So much of what we write to each other comes off as unprofessional that I think there does need to be one person who points out these little communication breakdowns. It’s my way of trying to stop bad grammar from creeping over into the materials our clients and customers see. Am I right to keep standing up for the rules, or am I playing office politics incorrectly?” – Glenn, Film Librarian


Question: “I need to up my game with PowerPoint and Excel. Can anyone recommend online classes for this?”  – Kathleen, Assistant to VP


Question: “I wear a hearing aid, but still I often have the need to ask co-workers to repeat things. They all know about my handicap but naturally they don’t always remember to speak a little louder until I ask them to. I sense that a lot of them find it very aggravating to have to repeat sentences when they talk to me, and sometimes I get a polite ‘Oh, never mind, it’s not that important,’ which is very frustrating. I wonder why people don’t have a little more patience with this disability, and what I can do to adapt and not get on their nerves.” – Miranda, Digital Archivist


Question: One thing that’s rarely taught when you start out as an admin is how to seamlessly flow with the executive you support on both a professional and personal level—stepping in and out of their world every day, helping without obstructing, getting your own work done while some of theirs is taken care of too. Our question this week is: Would you say that you’ve actually developed a real bond with your boss, and that you feel more like an ally than an underling? And if so, do you have any words of wisdom you can share on how to make this happen?  – the editors of Administrative Professional Today


Question: “I’ve been a temporary admin in many different offices since 2009, and I really haven’t noticed the slightest reduction in the amount of paper all over people’s desks, brought out in meetings, and in use all over the office. My boss just mentioned that he’s thinking about starting a ‘paperless office’ initiative, but to me it doesn’t seem necessary or even desired. I think we’ve all underestimated how comfortable people feel with paper and how much we still want it. Isn’t a project like this just going to wind up being totally fruitless?” – Maeve, Accounts Payable


Question: “We have an admin on the team who is far past retirement age but shows no interest in retiring—which is great, except he’s slowed down and become inefficient to the point where he may be creating more work than he’s doing. He’s not really eager or able to learn advanced new skills, either. Our boss is a very sympathetic person and feels stuck while he sees our productivity suffer. What would you do?” – Aaron, E-marketing Assistant


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