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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 hearing a lot lately about the concept of ‘managing up’ and how I should be more aggressively working with my supervisors, and even leading them toward decisions, so I can get ahead. Do any admins out there have examples of what they’ve done to be more like a manager of the people above them instead of just reacting to their needs? And did get it the result you wanted?” – Martha, Instructors’ Assistant

Question: "Say your boss came to you tomorrow and said that starting in the new year, one and only one of your admin tasks is going away forever—and you get to pick which it is. What would it be, and what is it about that thing that you just can't stand?" - the editors of Administrative Professional Today

Question: "Before our holiday lunch this week, each member of the admin team is supposed to read our personal New Year's resolutions from last December aloud at the table and tell about our progress on them—or lack thereof. Then it's time to announce new ones. I'm against this idea because it's bound to make someone feel a little inadequate and stressed at a time of year when we just don't need that. It's meant to be a fun activity, but what do other admins think—am I wrong to feel this is going to needlessly create more stress every year?" - Sasha, Service Desk Coordinator

Question: "I have an admin friend who tells me that I should be documenting every single task I do in my job daily, with special detail given to any sort of small or large projects, which should have their own separate category. She says it's the only way come performance review time to truly make a boss see what you do and what you're capable of—because people tend to overlook so much of what goes into an admin's job. I think I agree, but I worry it might make me seem a little obsessive and self-absorbed, as if all I care about is my own bubble. What do other admins think of this strategy?" - Gail, membership coordinator
Question: "Our admin team is planning a little awards ceremony during the holidays. Some of the awards will go to those who have done great work, but others will be more tongue-in-cheek so we can all have some fun. I'm wondering what some good, clever awards categories would be to reflect what admins have to face each day." - Bonnie, Admin Team Leader
Question: "I'm a little uncertain about job interview etiquette—more specifically, what comes afterward. How long do I wait to send a thank-you email, and is that a good time to elaborate at length on how I feel about the job, or even try to correct some impression I may have accidentally given? How should I close such an email, and is it even necessary to send one if I'm no longer interested in being hired?" - Kenny, unemployed admin

Question: "I've heard many times from colleagues and people close to me that I'm just not assertive enough to really get ahead and achieve the things I want. But this is the way I've been all my life and I'm not sure I can change. Does anyone know of some good first steps to try?" - Mercedes, Fashion Assistant

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

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