Mary Ellen Slayter

Question: “Last week at my new job I made an oversight when putting together a package of materials for my boss. It was the worst possible mistake to make and led to a ruined presentation, which in the end lost us some good business. I felt so miserable, I could barely get out of bed the next day. I think it will take me months to win back any kind of trust (my boss is not the most forgiving person). Is it ever better to just start over somewhere else rather than try to slowly erase a track record that’s gone wrong so soon?” – Cass, Documents Specialist


Question: “My company doesn’t have a dedicated receptionist. Instead the six members of our admin team are on a rotating schedule to cover the front desk. To me it’s always felt like a lost few hours. Things are usually pretty quiet at the desk, but I just can’t be nearly as productive—or as comfortable—when I’m answering phones and handling the other duties of a receptionist. Our boss seems to think we really shouldn’t miss a beat. Has anyone figured out a way to make this work?” – Nancy, Word Processing Specialist


When you’re com­­­­mu­­ni­­cat­­ing with your colleagues, man­­agers or clients, it’s important to keep these four modes—conceptual, analytical, social and structural—in mind and tailor your message to reach each one of them.


Question: “Last week a group of people our admin team has never worked with made a request of us, and from the reaction of a couple of my co-workers, you would have thought it came from space aliens. We just don’t know what some of the departments in our company are really about because we barely interact, so when we do, sadly our first thought is, ‘Who are these people to make this request of us?’ As the team leader, I want to start making everyone familiar and comfortable with every department here, but how do I do that?” – Hanna, Administrative Supervisor


Question: “I’m wondering how many admins out there use Salesforce on a regular basis. In my office, we’re looking for a tool to wrangle all our sales leads, but we’re not sure what else it can do, or how widespread its use really is. Anyone have experience using this software and can clue me in?” – Gil, Admin Trainer


Question: “In the space of six weeks, our admin team lost two consecutive new hires—they left very quickly. Here’s what I think the problem was: They were totally overwhelmed. We have a million things going on, we’re understaffed, and we can’t take the time to bring people along slowly. A new person has to face a ton of work from day one and there’s no way around it. So how do we somehow hold onto the next admin who gets hired?” – Nadia, San Antonio


Question: “Not that I want to be out of work, but it seems to me that technology has now given my boss plenty of tools to fend for himself in a lot of areas. Outlook does pretty much everything I can in the scheduling department, and it just takes a few clicks to book a flight or rent a car these days. Is anyone else worried that there’s less and less that we admins seem absolutely necessary for?” – Vicki, Executive Assistant


Question: “My company has asked me to put together an instructional packet as part of an anti-gossip measure. People across all departments pretty much agree it leads to a lot of negativity here, so I have to assemble policies and articles and even scripts into something downloadable. I’ll gladly do it, but I’ve accidentally started a debate within my team with my opinion that there’s nothing we can do about gossip—it’s natural and unstoppable and just has to run its course. I think this attempt to stifle it is a little silly. It’s like trying to control the weather! What do others think?” – Kim, IT traffic assistant


Question: “Every year our boss wants our admin team to host some sort of game at our holiday party before it really gets going, and every year people suffer through it for 20 minutes when all they really want to do is eat and chat. You can sense their boredom; these are just not ‘activity’ folks. Can anyone help with a suggestion for something that might actually intrigue people?” – Susanne, Customer Care Representative


Question: “I’m starting to read that in addition to having a good résumé when you’re looking for a job, it’s becoming important to have a solid ‘social media presence.’ I’m sure that by now hiring managers are taking a look at whatever they can find out about us online—but how do I build this ‘presence’ when I haven’t really had one before and need to start looking for a job in January?” – Eva, Transcription Editor


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