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Admin Pro Forum

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: I recently worked on a "team project" that included giving a presentation to an entire department (think "The Apprentice Lite"). We didn't have a project manager, but three out of the four team members worked night and day for three weeks on this project.

The three of us did literally 99.9 percent of the work. The fourth team member (we call her "The Albatross") came up with the "concept" but when asked to complete her portion of the presentation, she would regurgitate what we had already done in a completely unusable format.

When we gave the presentation, she chimed in during our portions, making it look as though we had overlooked something and that she had "saved the day."

Unfortunately, the Donald wasn't there to ask us who should have been fired. What is your advice on handling future projects such as this, with a deadbeat project member who happily lets you do all her work and takes all the credit? -- Migraine Millie

Question: I am looking for Web sites where I can compare telephone systems. We are building a new facility and will be installing a new phone system. I would like to compare the systems that I have bids on. They are ESI, Nortel, ProCom and INTER-TEL. Does anyone have feedback on any of these systems? -- Melinda
Question: I need to update all our procedures and policies in a consistent format that the entire department can access with read-only capabilities.

I need a program that people can search by one word or the complete title. What works the best, Excel or Access? Are there other programs that work better? We are a large company and a large department.  -- JG
Question: Are “step-siblings” considered “siblings" when independence or personal conflict is being considered in a workplace environment? -- Anonymous

Question: I frequently send out meeting notices by e-mail to a large group of volunteers, well in advance of the meeting date. While some of the volunteers RSVP, many do not. I also send out a small reminder closer to the meeting date.

Sometimes this helps, but quite a few volunteers never respond. This is a problem because their attendance is very important, and I order food according to how many people are coming.

How should I handle this in a courteous and professional way? You can't force people to respond to your e-mails. My last resort is to call each person individually, but I feel like I'm being "pushy" when I do that. Plus, that takes a lot of time. Any suggestions? -- Anonymous

Question: I have an office mate who is very nosy. We have different positions. I have a lot of traffic flow with vendors and other employees who ask me for help or information. Invariably, she pokes her nose in and adds her own comments or suggestions.

How do I get her to stop interfering? We have shared this office for about a year. Before we moved in together, we both told our manager that we shouldn't share an office. She is a very loud person and if I am talking to someone, and she is talking to someone, I can't hear the person I am talking to. This is becoming intolerable.


We are going through some downsizing, so I don't want to mention it to my manager right now. We work 10-hour days, and they are pretty long when you have to continually bite your tongue. I'm afraid I will lash out at her soon. 
-- Anonymous

Question: I want to learn more about contract management processes, from the perspective of maintaining files and records. Can someone direct me to a Web site, a book or an online course that would help?  -- Marie

Question: I'm an unemployed HR Manager and I recently interviewed for an Office Manager position at a 45-person law firm. Believe it or not, the Managing Partner asked me if I was married and had children. I really think he didn’t know better because they don’t have any HR people working at the firm.

Knowing I shouldn't respond to the question, but yet needing the job and not wanting to blow my chances of being hired, I answered the questions. How should I have handled it?

I'm thinking that if I get the job, then I should point out the illegality of what he asked and inform him what he legally can and cannot ask. It also crossed my mind that he knew exactly what he was doing and wanted to see if I would answer the question.  -- Susan

Question: We have a manager who recently decided to look for a less-stressful career path. She is young, early 30's, and suffers from depression (she lives alone, no children, very overweight and no friends/boyfriend or outside work activities). She treated her depression up until about a year ago.

I am not alone in thinking that she is making a mistake by leaving the position and taking a large pay cut when the job is not that stressful. She may not realize how depressed she is and that more than just work is making her unhappy.

I know that I can't change her decision. But I care about her personally and want to make sure she is OK and getting help for her depression. Am I stepping over boundaries? -- Anonymous

Question: Last week, I responded to a question about training by suggesting a free Web site that allows you to train yourself in various Microsoft Packages (Word, PP, Excel, etc.). However, I supplied the wrong Web site address. The address should be www.gcflearnfree.org. -- Valerie

Question: Last spring, the company hired an AA. She conducts her personal business loudly so it echoes down the hall, slams doors and comes to my desk in the front office to share her personal problems (with a new drama each week). She also complains that the fumes from the copier and shredder make her “nauseous.” Everyone knows all her personal business (and problems) even when they would rather not (like me).

When her manager is out of the office, she spends her time on the phone conducting personal business with the door open so everyone can hear. I have gone to her office and closed the door on a couple of occasions and just today she snapped at me saying if she wanted the door closed she would do it herself.

Another AA and I have tried talking with her manager, but this person won't listen to us.

Any suggestions about how to get her to keep her personal business (and drama and problems) in her office behind closed doors?  -- Anonymous

Question: When responding to an e-mail, should the response be placed above or below the original message? -- Anonymous

Question: Our company president and two VPs (her sons) have a business trip planned to a posh resort in the Riviera Maya, Mexico. They have asked me to reserve private/limo transportation to and from Cancun Airport and the resort. The trip from the airport to the resort is about 45 miles. Their flight arrives late, so they need reliable, comfortable transport and preferably a bi-lingual driver.

I have e-mailed the hotel concierge twice requesting transportation information, with no success. How can I locate a reliable transport provider? I’ve searched the airport’s Web site and they offer private transportation, but no business name or contact information is provided, just a PayPal link.

Does anyone have contacts in the travel industry that might be able to assist me with this request?  -- Travel Planner

Question: I'm helping to plan an event in April for Administrative Professionals and we'd like to create a "goodie bag" with different treats.

We’d like to include a tag with each item referencing each treat, such as a pack of Extra gum with a tag saying “Thanks for going the EXTRA mile” or a miniature Crunch bar and a note saying “You always help out in a CRUNCH.”

Has anyone done this before? Do you have any ideas you'd like to share?  -- Ann

Question: I have a boss who is very “hands on.” As a result, I lack the skills necessary for advancement. Can someone tell me a quick and easy way to become a PowerPoint expert? Is there a Web site that I can use for tutoring?  -- Anonymous

Question: I work part time in a clinic setting. A co-worker (I will call her Katie) has really made a name for herself as a constant gossip.

Katie also is in charge of scheduling for the non-technical staff. She shares private information with everyone in the office about why you called in sick, who you are dating or what you did on the weekend. It upsets me that she shares everyone’s medical problems, not to mention the errors they’ve made on the job. Does this violate some ethical standing?

I'm not sure how to approach the topic with Katie and/or the office manager. I have a good standing with the office manager but since I only work part time, I don’t feel that I have much say in day-to-day operations.

A few co-workers have attempted to talk to the office manager about Katie but nothing has been done about it. Any suggestions?  -- Lori

"FISH!"

by on March 16, 2007 4:00am
in Admin Pro Forum

Question: Has anyone implemented "FiSH! Philosophy" in your workplace? Other than parties and luncheons, in what ways has it been integrated into the work or workplace? What has been the employee response?  -- Lisa

Question: I work in a five-person branch office, and the lease on our office space expires at the end of December. As a result, a person from the home office will be coming to my office to determine whether our lease should be renewed (in other words, whether we're worth the money) or whether our responsibilities should be absorbed into the home office. If any of you have been through a similar situation, I'd love to hear your suggestions regarding what I should say when the decision maker speaks to me.  -- Lisa

Question: It is my job to order the food for our board meetings. We’ve had several complaints about ordering the same types of food for each meeting. My boss generally requests Caesar salads or sandwiches with small sides. Does anyone have any ideas as to what else we could serve for our board meetings? I need to keep the cost reasonably low.  -- Gina

Question: For the second year in a row, I have composed a short e-mail invite to the managers and supervisors on staff. Another employee informed me that the words managers and supervisors should be capitalized. It’s very common in the business profession today not to capitalize titles, especially in the context I am using. (“I have revised a new schedule this year for the managers/supervisors to serve the luncheon.”)

What is the correct capitalization in this situation? It would be helpful if I could point to a reference book or similar authority when replying to this person.  -- Aida

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