Mary Ellen Slayter

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

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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

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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

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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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Question: “My company is gearing up to get into social media. They seem pretty open to creativity, so I’d like to know if anyone’s noticed any companies out there that really seem to know how to get people’s attention on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I’d like to start following and befriending them to learn the tricks of the trade.” – Everett, Admin Team Lead

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Question: “I am currently working in Word 2007 and we are getting ready to update to Word 2010. Will there be a lot of changes to get used to?”  – Sharon, Office Manager / Financial Secretary

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Question: “I was placed on a performance improvement plan at work. I really think it’s a way to slowly fire me, and it’s such a morale killer to be under this kind of watch that I don’t have much enthusiasm left for the job. Does anyone ever come back from being on probation like this to do really well with their company and leave the black mark totally behind? I sure can’t think of an example.” – Violet, Insurance Researcher

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Question: “Do you find that the position of administrative assistant is becoming a thing of the past? I am retiring next month and they’re not replacing my position.”  – Sally, Admin

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Question: “My boss is notorious for running late for meetings, being out of touch when he’s supposedly working at home, forgetting about appointments … I’m often the only one who knows the real reasons for these problems, and they’re rarely good ones, so it falls to me sometimes to make an excuse. I sense that people see through me when I do. What can I possibly say in these situations when I’m a lousy liar but I don’t want to make my otherwise good boss seem like a mess?” – Frazzled, San Mateo, Ca.

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Question: “I recently had a performance review in which a couple of the things that were said about me were simply untrue. These comments took me completely by surprise, and I realize that in defending myself I probably came off as whiny and was very ineffective. Only now that a week has gone by do I realize exactly what I should have said, and how I should have said it. I got my raise and a decent overall mark, so is it just too late now to state my case? In going back over old ground, would I only make myself look worse no matter if the facts are on my side?” – May, Clerical Trainer

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