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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: "Not that I want to be out of work, but it seems to me that technology has now given my boss plenty of tools to fend for himself in a lot of areas. Outlook does pretty much everything I can in the scheduling department, and it just takes a few clicks to book a flight or rent a car these days. Is anyone else worried that there's less and less that we admins seem absolutely necessary for?" - Vicki, Executive Assistant
Question: "My company has asked me to put together an instructional packet as part of an anti-gossip measure. People across all departments pretty much agree it leads to a lot of negativity here, so I have to assemble policies and articles and even scripts into something downloadable. I'll gladly do it, but I've accidentally started a debate within my team with my opinion that there's nothing we can do about gossip—it's natural and unstoppable and just has to run its course. I think this attempt to stifle it is a little silly. It's like trying to control the weather! What do others think?" - Kim, IT traffic assistant

Question: "Every year our boss wants our admin team to host some sort of game at our holiday party before it really gets going, and every year people suffer through it for 20 minutes when all they really want to do is eat and chat. You can sense their boredom; these are just not 'activity' folks. Can anyone help with a suggestion for something that might actually intrigue people?" - Susanne, Customer Care Representative

Question: "I'm starting to read that in addition to having a good résumé when you're looking for a job, it's becoming important to have a solid 'social media presence.' I'm sure that by now hiring managers are taking a look at whatever they can find out about us online—but how do I build this 'presence' when I haven't really had one before and need to start looking for a job in January?" - Eva, Transcription Editor

Question: "For the last chapter of our company's style guide, I was asked to compile tips on how to write emails that stay true to your personality. My boss wanted these in there because he said he was amazed at how rude, hostile, impatient or uneducated so many otherwise smart people seemed in emails without realizing they were coming off so poorly. I'd love to hear some fixes for those who accidentally become totally different when writing them." - Nan, Admin Team Lead

Question: "There is so much more I can do for my company, but I am never considered for meaningful projects and assignments. I’ve been with my current company as an executive assistant for six years and have over 25 years of experience working at the C-level. Don’t get me wrong; I love what I do and I’m very good at it, but most of the work I’ve been asked to do lately is task-oriented and extremely basic, i.e. making labels, stuffing envelopes, conference room reservations, arranging food orders, etc. Please know that I don’t feel that those tasks are beneath me … I’m always willing to pitch in to help wherever needed. I’ve talked with my boss about my concerns and my eagerness to take on additional responsibilities and new assignments. Unfortunately, that conversation didn’t reveal any answers. I am having a great deal of difficulty understanding why I keep getting overlooked, and my feelings of resentment and frustration are getting harder to hide. Has anyone ever been in a similar situation?"  - Wasting Away

Question: "I'm tempted to spruce up a PowerPoint presentation by adding some video. Before I try to learn the actual steps of how to do it, I'd like to know what other admins' experiences have been with trying this—is it going to be too much headache for too little payoff, or is it easier than I think?" - Michelle, Administrative Assistant III
Question: "I've noticed recently that one of the managers here seems to be trying to use me as a window into my boss's habits and decisions. He's always politely prying for a little more information about what she's thinking than I'm comfortable giving, but at the same time, he's even higher up the ladder than my boss is, so I don't want to offend him. What should I do about this?" - Caitlyn, Events Assistant
Question: "Our company has performance plans based on the expectation that we'll always be moving up the ladder—or at least trying to. I can tell my boss thinks it's odd that I'm having trouble with this. The fact is, I've been an admin for four great years and I just don't want to be promoted! How do I convince him that I'm genuinely happy where I am without sounding like I'm scared to take on higher responsibility?" - Fran, Marketing Admin

Question: "There are a lot of snazzy decorative templates, images, borders, fonts, etc. in the recent versions of Word—so many that I don't even know where to begin. It seems like I could scroll through the options all day! If I want to quickly spruce up a boring report to the managers summarizing the projects our admin group has completed, what are some favorite bells and whistles that would do the job?" - Nora, Hotel Bookings Assistant

See comments below, and send your own question to Admin-Pro@nibm.net.

Question: "I had an idea that I would set myself a target date for becoming the manager of my department exactly five years from now, and work to make that goal happen as hard as I can. I definitely have a few promotion levels to achieve before I get there, so do you think it's wise to set such an ambitious goal with such a specific timeline, or am I setting myself up for a possible disappointment that might be even tougher to recover from if I don't make it?" - Mel, Property Processing Clerk
Question: "My admin team is getting overly competitive since we can now log in to our system after normal work hours. I know that at least two of the people I work with put in an extra four or five unpaid hours every week at home, in order to get ahead. I can't help but feel they have an unfair advantage—they're getting more done than me because I don't want work to follow me home, yet I can't realistically tattle on them for the unauthorized hours. Is the only solution here to just let them be seen as miracle workers who are more efficient than I am?" - Betty, Financial Services
Question: "How do I ask and answer questions at an interview?" - Lydia
Question: "We're hiring a receptionist for our new business. Originally we were looking for the sunniest, friendliest person we could find, but then someone mentioned that with the number of aggressive vendors and solicitors we might have coming in, plus unexpected visitors, that person will need to have a very firm hand and not be afraid to lay down the law, so to speak. Now I'm not quite sure what sort of personality we should be leaning toward. What works best on the front desk?" - Martin, Office Manager 
Question: "When I think about my best days at work, they always seem to have been about something unusual or fun I experienced with my co-workers instead of the actual job. I wonder how many admins this is true of?" - Jennifer, Public Works Admin
Question: "I've been at the same job for more than 25 years, and now my memory seems to be failing more and more. Lately it's gotten very noticeable by others. I'm still several years from retirement, and I'd like to know what others have tried to either improve their memory or create ways to make the natural loss of it less of a problem." - Gloria, Records Supervisor
Question: "The last few times that our company Fun Club has tried to help a charity through a canned food drive or toy collection, the response rate from our co-workers has been embarrassingly low. What's the best way to get the office interested in making these count?" - Kate, Receptionist
Question: "I think I might be wasting time when I need to learn something specific about Excel, Word, SharePoint or any other software in a hurry. I have a few websites bookmarked, but I'd like to know if there are some really great ones out there that will teach me procedures fast. Can it be that YouTube is the first place people go nowadays for quick computer training?" - Shea, Academic Transcriptionist

Question: "My desk is at the front of the building in a high traffic area, and a few employees like to talk to me as they walk by. Some keep the conversation short and light, but others tend to rattle on and on about relationship issues and inter-office gossip. One employee who covers the front desk while I'm away at lunch is the worst offender of this problem. Is there a polite way to tell this talkative teammate to cut the chitchat and let me have my desk space back so I can start working?" - Rachel, Administrative Support

Question: "We have so many people in my office creating and revising so many documents and swapping them around, I don't know of the best way to ensure someone's not grabbing the wrong one from the network—or from the person they're teaming with. Does anyone have any tips so I don't keep hearing, 'Oh, I think this is the right version'?" - Kristen, Office Manager
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