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Admin meeting strategies

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Question: Has anyone put together a group program for the administrative assistants at their company to promote communication, education, training, etc? I have been asked to organize a quarterly meeting and I need a starting point. If anyone has done this and has suggestions or ideas, I would greatly appreciate the help!  -- Anonymous


Why don't you start by finding out what THEY want to hear? They may not repond to an email survey, but if you approach a few of them in person and ask them what expectations they have and what they'd like to see covered, you can get a better idea of how to structure your training.

Yes, I have and it was a great tool that also boosted morale in the office. I would advise sending out a "pre-meeting" email asking the other assistants for their input for an agenda as well as what they would like to accomplish in the meeting. The most important task is cross-training. Everyone usually knows who is responsible for certain tasks and it is very useful for all the assistants to know each others duties so that everything flows smoothly if one is out on vacation. Who really enjoys those quick "do this for me while I'm gone" half-explained chores at the last minute? Not only that but all of you will look awesome when you are able to help another VP/Manager flawlessly because you already know how they expect things to be handled and what needs to be done. And we as assistants could always use helpful shortcuts, tips and tricks which are usually gained from other admins exceling in their positions. You could take it a step further as I did also by making your group into the morale building team that keeps spirits high in the office as well.

A few years ago we implemented a User Group Training team, where individuals signed up that were extremely knowledgable in a particular area (Excel, Word, Internet Explorer, etc). We had a sign-up sheet, with hourly training times, where interested individuals signed up for small classes held in our conference room with several laptops available. It was a big success.

I have started and been a part of these type of groups. The one I started in my last company was held every six weeks in the Executive Board Room and a delicious hot lunch was served. The meeting was facilitated by myself and the President's Assistant. It was held for 1.5 hours. During that time we might have a guest speaker; usually a manager or director from a certain dept. They would explain the function of their dept. giving everyone a better understanding of how each dept. fit into the frame of things and what they were capable of doing. We also discussed and compared notes on ongoing problems we might be experiencing (Ex: we uncovered a very disgruntled employee in the mailroom that was destroying mail thru one of these 'comparing notes' sessions). I established a list of those strong in PPT, Word & Excel in case someone had a problem with which they needed help they knew who the experts were. The group planned charity-type events each year for the Holidays where we gave away food baskets, food certificates, toys, etc. and each admin was in charge of getting their own dept. involved. Those are just a few suggestions that were implemented. The meetings were very productive and were not allowed to be turned into a 'complaining' session.

Once a year, we have a staff retreat which includes our office manager and supervisor (who were responsible for the agenda), adminins., secretaries, and support staff for a count of 12 attendees. We try to have it at a customer/vendor site and usually in their conference room. This gives the customer/vendor an opportunity to share an aspect of their industry and how we interact. We also have a speaker for interpersonal skills training, such as "Stellar Service" or "Dealing with Difficult People." We also invite someone from our department to share the nuts and bolts of what they do and how important our role is in their success. We have a continental breakfast and a boxed lunch. Usually an 8-4 PM agenda. It's a great camaraderie builder and team work activates get us to interact with one another. Hope this helps!

We have an Administrative Professionals committee that meets on a quarterly basis. We go to training/enrichment seminars each year. (i.e. Skillpaths) These are funded by our company.

We have an agenda at our meetings and each admin. actively contributes to the meetings. It is very rewarding and has given our admins confidence and assurance that they are appreciated for what they do.

The professional support team (PST) at our company created a group called "Office Masters, " which meets monthly. Every member of the PST is invited to sign up for the meetings. Agenda topics are solicited by the steering committee and PST members present at the meetings. The topics are technology/software related and can be a simple 5-minute tip or a more detailed presentation. It's a great opportunity to get speaking experience and also a great opportunity for networking within our company. Also, the PST has a site on our Intranet where loads of useful information is stored and maintained.

As you move forward with establishing your group - the main thing I would focus on is getting volunteers! If they volunteer, that means that they are excited to help; if it can be tied in as a objective for the yearly review, it's even more motivating.

Good luck!

I created a professional development program for the administrative personnel (7 senior secretaries). I've attached the following example of some of the items covered. If you would like a few templates let me know.
Teaching one another
Learning from one another
Generating Ideas
Creating energy
Display edge (be prepared for what happens)

Some Topics of Discussion:
Working w/ staff and our bosses
Managing the Manager (the partnership)
Developing and increasing teamwork
Working efficiently
Personal development
Handling difficult situations
Managing Conflict
Stress Management
Organization/time management
Project Management

Topics Covered -
Different types of personalities in workplace
How to deal with difficult people
Conflict management
Performance Evaluations/Personal Assessments
Constructive Criticism and Feedback
Leadership and the manager’s role

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