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Admin Pro Forum

Share best-practices with your administrative peers. Pose a question, offer advice, or just be a fly on the wall.

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Question: "What do you worry about most during the workday? Is it a specific task, dealing with a specific person, or maybe fear for losing  your job? What's the one pressing concern you can't ever quite shake?" - the editors of Administrative Professional Today

Question: "How do you tell your corporate office, kindly, that the holiday wreath they send each year doesn’t survive the shipment? We are located in Florida and every year the corporate office in Louisville sends us what was once a beautiful wreath with fresh fruit, nuts and berries. I am sure in the colder weather they hold up great ... but here in Florida the fruit is already molded by the time I open the box!" - Jeannie, EA

Question: "I know it sounds simplistic, but I'm looking for a book that will help me find my life's purpose. I've been an admin for 12 years and I'm not really sure where to go from here, in my career but also in my life. The Self-Help section of the bookstore is pretty intimidating. I was hoping other admins know of something good!" - Clare, Clinic Intake Specialist

Question: "As soon as I got my new admin job, I was deluged by office supply vendors with deals and offers to switch, and I've also been asked to explore ways to save money in catering, shipping, courier services, etc. But I have no experience in dealing with vendors and I don't want to wind up making some deal I later regret. Does anyone have any advice on how to make (or refuse) new deals, and what I should be suspicious of?" - Margaret, School Board EA
Question: "Recently I found out that my boss is clearly engaged in some things at work that aren't illegal but are unethical. I'm not supposed to know about them; I came across the information completely by accident. I'm not sure what to do. I think he's a decent person who's just gotten desperate about keeping his job, but I don't know him very well. Any advice?" - Shaina, Executive Assistant
Question: "Our office has a pretty decent budget, and I'd like to convince our manager to get us a really nice high-volume, state-of-the-art photocopier. Ours is eleven years old and really basic, and I'm hoping these things can work wonders by now. Are there any snazzy but useful features I should be keeping in mind when I shop around, ones that can really help an admin?" - Clarissa, Guest Accounts Rep
Question: "I sat down and estimated how much I spend each year just on work clothes, and I came away pretty depressed! Trying to 'dress for the job you want, not the one you have' is expensive. I'd like to know how many admins simply refuse to chase that notion because of the expense, or because they're not particularly comfortable in clothing more formal than they wear outside the office. Personally, I'm dialing way back, and people here can think what they want to think!" - Melanie, New Bedford, Conn.
Question: "Where I work, we don't have performance evaluations, even though it's a big company. We never really know when or if we'll get a raise, and we don't have regular meetings with our bosses to talk about how we're doing. I'm wondering if this is unusual or just unfamiliar to me, coming from places where we had to set goals (too many, if you ask me) and had annual reviews. It feels like I might be getting short-changed somehow, but I'm not sure what to do about it. I'm not about to walk into my boss's office and say, 'The system needs to change!'" - Karen, Accounting Assistant
Q: "I'm sure the pay of an Executive Assistant is very nice, but I'm unsure about whether to strive for that position. I really like being basically on the same level as the other admins in the office, working very much as a group, and I'm hesitant to work so closely with just one boss, which is what this would entail in my company. I'm wondering if anyone has any reasons I should definitely go for it—or not!" - Blythe, Admin, San Diego

Question: "I've slowly realized that I'm the person everyone comes to when they want to talk about life outside the office, their personal problems, their traffic woes, their relationship headaches ... I don't mind, but I think I'd like to very slowly give up that role. Does anyone have any tips on how I might do that without shutting anyone down directly? These are all nice people and I like them a lot; I just want to focus on myself and the job more." - Cassidy, Test Prep Assistant

Question: "There's a member of our four-person admin team who does everything well and is very nice, but she is just never at work on time. Five minutes here, ten minutes there, occasionally fifteen ... maybe it's not a big deal because it's not difficult to catch up over the course of an eight-hour day. But I worry about the example this sets, and I get irritated when I have a question and need to wait for an answer. Do you think this behavior is too minor to risk alienating someone who does a good job by mentioning it? I'm not her supervisor, just a colleague." - Susan, Reservations Agent

Question: "I'm surprised at how much of my new job is about ordering food for meetings—I'm responsible for four or five a day sometimes, anything from a basket of muffins for a team huddle to a 40-seat luncheon. Has anyone learned any catering 'cheats' that will save money, move lines along faster or just make me look like I really know what I'm doing?" - Becky, Assistant to Investing Services

Question: "As Assistant Secretary to our not-for-profit board, we have the discussion constantly about the best/easiest way to share materials. We have a SharePoint platform forum; however, members say there are too many clicks to get what they need. Additionally, firewalls become an obstacle, plus the size of files, the time it takes to download large ones, etc. Any suggestions on sharing documents would be greatly appreciated." - Theresa, Assistant Corporate Secretary

Question: "Do you have a favorite movie or TV show about the working life of an admin? Is there any scene that has ever made you think, 'This is totally what it's like to be me at work' or even 'This is so not the way it is'?" - the editors of Administrative Professional Today
Question: "I’m wondering what admins do to track phone messages for their exec? I've used a phone log right in Microsoft Outlook, but it doesn’t work in Microsoft 2016 so I've just been using an Excel spreadsheet." - Kathy, Admin

Question: "It's been said that many of us are losing our face-to-face people skills because of computers, email, texting, telecommuting, etc. Since it's easier than ever to get our work done in an impersonal way, without connecting in person as often, employees are getting cozy on their own little 'work islands' and may be forgetting the basics (and advantages) of constant human interaction. But do you think this is actually true—and if so, how is it making your job more difficult?" - the editors of Administrative Professional Today

Question: "Everyone seems to have a different way of creating their to-do lists. I've always been interested in how they go about it, and what their lists actually look like. Am I the only one who just scrawls things in a big notebook and messily crosses them out? How many people use Excel, Outlook, sticky notes, legal pads, posters, whiteboards or even emails to themselves? Is there some method that seems to work wonders for admins?" - Joe, Editorial Assistant

Question: "I have a co-worker who is good at her job but keeps getting in her own way with her many personality quirks. She just comes off as insecure, untrusting, high-maintenance and loud. Little by little the team is abandoning her in subtle ways. I'd like to know if I should help her merely by being patient and loyal, or if it would really be better to explain to her why exactly it is that she has so few allies left. And how would I even do that?" - Morgan, Laboratory Services Specialist

Question: "I actually stress out a little when my vacation rolls around, because I feel I should work far ahead as a courtesy to the team so they don't have to do anything for me that I could conceivably do in advance. Without them ever asking me to make that effort, sometimes I wind up working frantically because I don't want to burden anyone during those two weeks. Am I doing the courteous thing, or am I unnecessarily taking on too much?" - Shayley, Tax Preparation Assistant
Question: "It looks like my new job is going to require a little more office tech knowledge than I was prepared for. Just today I was asked to do something in Excel I wasn't sure how to. What do other admins usually do when they get stuck like this and the clock is ticking? What's their 'escape route' for finding a fast solution under deadline pressure?" - Mary, Registrar's Assistant
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