Mary Ellen Slayter

Question: “My boss has asked me to come up with ideas to help our staff become more team-player oriented. At a previous job she and a co-worker brought all of their office staff together, paired them up with Legos, and had one read directions while standing behind the one putting the item together. She said the results were fantastic because it showed the staff members how others perceive another giving directions and how they interpret them. Does anyone have any other suggestions on how to make being a ‘team-player’ fun?”  Mary

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Question: “I’ve been an admin for about a year, and am thinking about finishing my college degree studies at night. Since I really enjoy this field, I’m wondering if I’m better off just working hard and getting better at it rather than spending my nights for two years getting a degree mostly for the sake of having one. How much job experience do you think it will take to look as good on a résumé as a diploma would?” – Jane, Support Team Leader

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Question: “I read recently that your day has either been made or broken by the time you’ve been at your desk for only a half hour, and your routine from the moment you wake up should be carefully engineered toward maximizing your calm and contentment so that the workday begins well. In this case, I’m a disaster, with my mornings at home being chaotic and everything rushing at me very early in the office. Does anyone have a recipe for a morning routine that really sets a good tone for the next eight hours?” – Kat, District Secretary

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Question: “My boss is definitely a forward-thinking person, and now she’s really stirred up the pot where I work by suggesting we ban the word ‘assistant.’ She thinks it makes people see one worker as less important than another, and this becomes a stigma. She doesn’t want to change job functions, just the way people perceive them. Does anyone have any good ideas for a better word for what people like me do to help a superior in her job?”  – Kelvin, Support Assistant

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Question: “My current job, which I’ve had for nine months, is going sour fast and I don’t think I can go on. Here’s the real problem: If I leave, I don’t trust anyone here to give me a good recommendation, and I wouldn’t know how to explain to an interviewer that I have no references from my most recent position. But if I don’t list this job at all on my résumé, it creates a mysterious recent gap in my work experience. Is there any way out of a dilemma like this?” – Nate, Contract Administrator

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Question: “Someone in my office is considering having a little minor cosmetic surgery done—solely because, she says, she thinks there’s a little age discrimination always going on among co-workers, not just in hiring. She made such good points that I’m at least thinking of dressing ‘younger’ and getting my hair dyed. Am I going too far to fight ageism? (And would I actually be part of the problem at that point?)” – Penny, Facilities Planner

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Question: “How do you become a virtual assistant? I am very interested.” – Leslie, Marketing Coordinator

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Question: “I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I’m still not really sure about the very best techniques to try when using a search engine. I have to Google things all the time but tend to wind up with way too many irrelevant results, or I can’t quite find what I’m looking for. What are the little techniques I’m missing when it comes to precise and complete web-searching?” – Sally, Medical Coder

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Question: “The whole he/she issue when writing something that doesn’t apply to a named person still confuses me. Some people get irritated when you choose one gender over the other even when you’re just writing about a hypothetical situation, but the phrase ‘he or she’ sounds silly and awkward when it has to be used too often. What’s the best way to get around this problem?” —Eric, Admissions Advisor

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Question: “How do I deal with someone who constantly name-drops and only wants to deal and work with upper management? This person will not discuss issues with other employees or ask for their input or concerns, making individuals feel they don’t matter. I understand that things will get done quicker when issues are brought directly to upper management, but blowing right past other employees hurts the work environment. What to do?” – Marianne, Office Manager

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