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Supervising staff at multiple locations

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Question: Recently, I accepted a very challenging new position with my company. I will be supervising five receptionists/secretaries, two at one site and three at another. I will be traveling between the offices each week. This is my first supervisory position. I’m hoping my fellow AdminPro Forum readers with supervisory experience can offer advice on how to lead a group and how to supervise staff located at multiple locations. — Anonymous


It would help if you had a meeting once a week with the group of employees at a central location for about an hour; prepare an agenda; and allow reasoble time for questions. In addition, it would help to get them actively involved in establishing common goals.


I have four experienced admins reporting to me, three of which are all at different buildings. We communicate via Sametime, similar to AOL IM, during the course of the day. Since these gals are not novice admins, there is no hand-holding needed from me.

I meet with the gals quarterly, to go over their annual goals and once a month, we have an Admin lunch meeting. Every other month there is no agenda - it's just us eating lunch together. I think it's important, for a team aspect, to not get together all the time just for the meetings only. We find out about each other, on a personal basis, this way too.

I have been given the awesome task of supervising 4-6 Administrative Aides for my company. It was very stressful in the begining because of the different personalities and having them housed in a different location. I meet with them at least once-a-month for about an hour. We discuss issues they are having at their location as well as what is expected of them. I have initiated training sessions for them in the areas where they lack skills. I also have them send me a daily/weekly log of duties they perform. This log keeps me updated with the jobs they are performing and I can compare it with their job descriptions. I also have a schedule of their breaks/lunch times so they there is always someone available to answer telephones, type letter etc.

The comments have been great. I would add that for yourself I would take a class or seminar on first time supervisors or
managers. I know, for myself the hardest was to learn all had different work styles and to discover those styles and make them work to as an advantage. I also setup quarterly classes in the areas where they lack skills. I have a schedule of their breaks/lunch times so there is always someone available to answer telephones, type letter etc. I also never expect them to do something that I would not do myself. I also made arrangements with upper management, if it is warranted, to allow someone who have gone over and above their normal job duties a 1/2 a day off paid without having to use their own personal time (this normally occurs only once or twice a year). I also set up common goals with each staff member. I expect a lot from the staff under me but they also know I am fair and the bottom line is the goal of the company and how we can be an asset to the company.

While I have not supervised staff a different locations, I have one word of advice on supervision. That is, there is not one good way of supervising. What style works really well with one person may be poor for someone else. In all the time I've supervised, I don't think I've ever had two people that appreciated the same style of supervision. Flexibility or adaptability is a very useful skill in supervision.

One thing you could do is ask the people you are supervising what they want. People are often pleasantly surprised when supervisors ask for their opinions, and in my experience, honest as well. See what suggestions they generate and go from there. You may want to solicit their opinions individually, as not everyone is inclined to speak up at a meeting.

Good luck with your new position!

As an Administrative Assistant who works for someone that has multiple locations and does it successfully one thing that is encouraged by my boss is to encourage the assistants to work together and to share information and ideas. Although we are not in the same physical locations other forms of contact are used and we converse and share ideas daily. We are a team and work well together because the boss has encouraged the relationships. We work well together because of it.

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