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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've been at my new admin job for three months now. It's going fine, except the place where I work has to be the stuffiest, least fun company ever. It's totally quiet all day with almost no interaction, and there's no real culture, no fun events to look forward to. If it weren't for brief friendly words in the kitchen with co-workers now and then, I think I'd go nuts! I don't expect to be able to change the office's ways—I'd just like to know how others have managed to stay upbeat and energetic in a sleepy atmosphere like this." - Madison, Contracts Researcher

Question: "After two years on the job, I've been given permission to come up with my own job title—my boss doesn't put much stock in them. Right now I'm basically your average administrative assistant, but I wonder if sprucing up my title will look good on a résumé or LinkedIn should I need to look for work somewhere else. Who knows, maybe I could gain more credibility here in the office, too. Should I call myself something a little fancier, or is there a downside to it?" – Melanie, Rehoboth, Del.

Question: "The company I work for caters every meeting no matter how brief, spends thousands of dollars for a service to keep office plants looking nice, constantly renovates to add TVs nobody watches and parking spaces nobody uses. I guess we can afford it, but I'm considering discussing this with my boss. I'm wondering about other admins' experiences with bringing up the delicate subject of the company throwing money away on extravagant things. What's the best way to go about it when I'm not totally sure how else that money should be spent—only that it seems enormously wasteful?" – Annabelle, Transcriber

Question: "The one thing I don't like about my new admin job is that we have to rate our co-workers every year! I'm dreading filling out that form. It asks us to rate people on a scale from 1 to 5 in a number of different work categories. The ratings are anonymous, but I'm afraid being really honest will cause resentment and strife if someone receives an accumulation of mediocre ratings. Realistically, wouldn't it be better to avoid giving 1s and 2s no matter how I feel, and just let our manager deal with visible performance problems?" - Monty, Tech Documentation Specialist

Question: "I've always hated the queasy 'new job' feeling that makes the first week at work so uncomfortable and uncertain, and now that I'm settled in as the head of my admin team, I really want to make new hires feel completely at ease from the very first morning they come to work for us. Does anyone have any tricks for getting someone to relax and take the first few days totally in stride?" - Wallace, Lead Admin

Question: "I have to send out 50 email invitations to a formal business dinner for important donors—the first of many, I think—and I'm really not sure how to address the recipients or phrase these invitations. There'll be no attachment. What should such an email look and sound like? In particular, what about the greeting, conclusion and subject line, and should I include any images or designs to give it a different tone than a normal email?" - Angelina, Membership Coordinator

Question: "A co-worker recently came back from a vacation during which she obviously had some cosmetic surgery done. We've all been pretending not to notice, since we're not sure how to compliment her new look without making her feel self-aware about how she accomplished it. Is this a case where we just need to keep mum even if we think she might possibly like that someone noticed the change?" - Frannie, Assistant Sales Manager

Question: "I am responsible for keeping the keys and the scheduling calendar book for our two company vans. I constantly have employees walking into my office, e-mailing me or calling me to see if a van is available. They are used by employees for going on sales calls, running company errands or attending meetings, conferences, etc. I would like to automate this process so everyone can view a calendar on their computer to check availability and reserve a van on their own. Could we use Outlook or SharePoint? What method would you use?" - Lisa, Administrative Assistant

Question: "My boss wants me to research all-day team-building activities that, in her words, will 'make people suffer a little.' Her theory is that we all need to have our cushy office lifestyles totally stripped away to kick us out of our comfort zones and remind us of how to work together on a more human level. What have been others' experiences with these sorts of 'pleasantly harsh' activities, as she refers to them? What should we try, and what should we avoid?" - Donna, law office admin

Question: "I've been applying for quite a few jobs recently. I've become wary of any job posting that leads to a long online template where I fill in forms and submit all my information through them, as opposed to places that simply ask for an emailed résumé. It seems to me that companies serious about finding the right person for a specific position only use the latter method instead of being so impersonal. Am I wrong? Have other admins found that a long online application process usually leads to silence?" - Victoria, unemployed admin

Question: "I am an administrative assistant at a very large company and my cubicle is right outside the door of one of the directors. He happens to loudly use a particular common curse word whenever he's frustrated. I cringe every time I sense it coming. In most cases I try to scurry away from my desk so I don’t have to hear it, but sometimes I do get caught off guard. Do you have any suggestions for how I can deal with this, or approach the problem directly?" - Anonymous & Frustrated

Question: "Is there a particular boss from your past whose antics absolutely drove you up a wall? One whose behavior was off-the-charts annoying, and whose methods made you wonder how a person like that could ever become a boss in the first place? We'd love to hear your story!" - the editors of Administrative Professional Today

Question: "I was really looking forward to working for the company that hired me a few weeks ago, but right away I got the sense that no one was very interested in making me feel like I was a valued part of a team. I wasn't introduced to anyone but my boss, and no one sitting near me has introduced themselves. I won't be working with them directly, but it still feels uncomfortable to go into work each day with strangers who seem to want to remain strangers. What course of action would you recommend to a person who's shy and doesn't want to walk around telling people who I am?" - Maddy, Customer Relations

Question: "My boss has asked me to find someone to deliver a one-hour motivational talk at a company retreat—it could be anyone with a lot of business experience who will basically put a charge into people to reach for the kind of career they dream of. With a budget of only a few hundred dollars, where should I begin to look?" - Ilene, Assistant Conference Coordinator

Question: "Five months ago I was hired as an admin at a telecommunications company. Recently I've come to realize that while my boss and I do get along, he's kind of a classic jerk—and everyone warned me about it. He's rude, condescending, argumentative and sometimes just plain mean, but he seems to get away with a lot because he's apparently terrific at bringing in profits. Does anyone but me feel there's something not right about working so hard for someone you find personally offensive, even if you need the paycheck and your work relationship is perfectly functional?" - Valerie, Administrative Assistant

Question: "As soon as I got my first admin job, I was urged by everyone I know to get on LinkedIn right away. That was easy, but aside from having a profile and a bunch of contacts, I'm not sure what I can really do with LinkedIn. Where are the admins gathering when I go there, and how are they helping each other?" - Wallace, Purchase and Audit Coordinator

Question: "Our admin team is compiling one list each month of 10 tips to get better at a certain skill. We simply post these on our walls at work to always keep us in learning mode. This month's list is about time management. For the first time, we're not filling up a list very quickly—we keep rejecting ideas because so many of them haven't really helped us that much in the past. Does anyone have any gems they can share?" - Samantha, Customer Service Dispatcher

Question: "A situation has arisen in our office involving a lack of raises for admins going back three years, while other departments get steady increases. We believe that only the whole admin team presenting our grievance at once will work to get a change made, because individual complaints just haven't had any impact. I'm looking for guidance on the best way to present a 'unified front' when an issue needs to be addressed this way. Should our concerns be in writing? Should one of us act as the leader who presents them?" - Daphne, Conference Center Assistant

Question: "I am planning to move out of state this summer. When would be the appropriate time to let my current employer know of my plans? I would like to give them enough notice so they can find a replacement, but I'm concerned that if I let them know sooner rather than later, they might replace me. I would like to work as much as I can." - Nancy

Question: "I go to work every day suspecting I could actually do the job of the supervisor I'm assisting—and maybe even do it a little bit better. I'm trying to be as patient as I can, but I'm finding it harder and harder to stay motivated when I feel this way. How do other admins manage it when they have these thoughts?" - Ivana, Shipping Logistics Assistant

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