Admin Pro Forum — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 88
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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: I am in a position where my workload is very low. Sometimes, I have nothing to do, except maybe a little photocopying or handling the mail.

Sometimes, I have to create work, if I can. But there is only so much work a person can create.

The classes that I took in the past (Excel, PowerPoint) go unused because I’m never asked to work in Excel or PowerPoint.

Because I have been in this department so long, I’m afraid to move on because my skills have gone down and I’m a bit afraid that I may not be able to handle the next job. Plus, some bosses don’t treat assistants well. I would hate to lose my job altogether.

I need some encouragement or advice as to what I should do while I’m here in this position. I’m at a loss. Thank you.  -- Anonymous

Question: I'm trying to find an essential tool I use every day and can't find it anywhere, and am hoping my fellow admins might be able to help me.

I have accumulated well over 600 3" x 5" Rolodex cards over the years. My problem is, I have room for only 500 on my open "flip"-style Rolodex. I've had to start rubber-banding the extras together or they all fall out whenever I need a phone number or address.

I would prefer a rotary metal Rolodex (the metal ones with a knob you twist around to the card you need).

The only 1,000-card Rolodexes I can find are:

1. A rotary one with MUCH smaller cards. (I'm not going to retype all 600 cards just so they fit on the new 2 1/4" x 4" cards!)

2. A 1,000-card "open file" holder like the one I have.

Does anyone know of a rotary-style Rolodex holder that holds 1000-plus 3" x 5" Rolodex cards?

Thanks, in advance, for your help.  -- Busy Executive Assistant, Rochester, N.Y.

Question: We have several partners in our law firm who constantly ask administrative staff to do personal things, like shop online, wrap gifts, make personal travel arrangements, print personal photos, etc. As the administrative manager, I find this offensive.

Partners feel that admins should do whatever they're asked, since the partners have to stay 'billable.' I think it's disrespectful and promotes a 'master/slave' mentality.

Your opinions are appreciated.  -- Office Manager, West Palm Beach

Question: I work for a government contractor in Washington, D.C., with fewer than 15 employees. I was hired three years ago as an accounts payable clerk, but my duties are more along the lines of an administrative assistant. The pay is good: I've gotten a raise two of the past three years.

But I'm debating whether I should stay or go.

I haven't left yet because I have such a great boss. He is very supportive and understanding of my being a single parent and part-time student. (I'm a year and a half away from my bachelor's degree in accounting.) He allows me to bring my child with me to work whenever necessary and take time off during midterms and finals to study. Although he is great to work for, I feel like I'm not making any progress professionally.

My problem is that I'm bored at work. I've tried asking for more, but there isn't more for me to do. My other problem is that I spend roughly about four hours a day commuting. I make the trek every day because of the flexibility I have.

I'm questioning if having a job with this much flexibility is worth this amount of unhappiness. Any thoughts?

Thanks.  -- Feeling stuck and unhappy

Question: I am a human resource coordinator who handles payroll, benefits and related work for about 100 employees, and I am being "forced" in very stern written communications from my direct supervisor to "fully cross-train" a co-worker "in all aspects of all duties and provide instruction and access to all documentation."

This co-worker does the same job as I do, but for a separate division of our department. She handles approximately 60 employees.

This is a very unusual circumstance; not warranted, in my opinion. (We do the same job but for different employees.)

The other side of this story is that this co-worker (female) is very good friends with my direct supervisor (male). They tell each other everything, and my co-worker has been asking me for all of my information but has told me nothing about her job. It's almost as if this cross-training is a ruse, convincing me that they just want my information so they can easily be rid of me.

I have been having some health issues lately. I have fibromyalgia and perhaps lupus, along with some other issues, and have had a lot of physician appointments. But my work is always completed, no matter what I have to do to get it done. Nevertheless, I cannot help but feel as if they are pushing me out.

What should I do? I have been complying and have been cooperative and nice, but I am not happy.

Please help!  -- Being Pushed Out in Ohio

Question: I work for a company that has multiple locations with only three to five employees each (arcades located in malls). Our store managers have to deal a lot with employees showing up late for their shifts and calling in absent after their shift has begun, as well as no-call no-shows.

Because we usually have only one person on duty at a time, this can become a nightmare for the store managers, who have to cover shifts when employees don't show, causing lots of overtime and double shifts.

I'm trying to come up with a new attendance/tardiness policy and would like some suggestions. (We have a "No verbal warning" policy in place; everything must be in writing.)  -- Carey, Dallas

Question: I need help organizing/cross-referencing file folders. My boss writes the name on the material and keeps it in either his office or mine. The problem occurs when he has a new or follow-up meeting that some of this information could pertain to; we can't locate everything because different names of folders may apply to similar information, etc.

This has been ongoing but now is occurring more frequently. Please help. Thanks.  -- Donna

Question: I am an administrative assistant for the president of my company and I feel I'm not being utilized enough. Does anyone have any suggestions or suggestions on books to help me get my boss to utilize me more? Thank you.  -- Anonymous

Editor's note: The National Institute of Business Management publishes two books that might help you:

  1. Results, Recognition and Rewards.
  2. Supercharge Your Career.

Find ordering information about both -- as well as about Personal Report for the Administrative Professional -- at

Also, you might check out How to Get From Cubicle to Corner Office, by Joel Weiss, and Become an Inner Circle Assistant, by Joan Burge.

Question: I am responsible for processing check requests for payment. Sometimes, though, people don’t save detailed receipts to back up their expenses.

What resources out there can help clarify what the IRS expects employers to keep for record retention in regard to travel & meeting reimbursements for employees? Also, are there penalties if the employee cannot provide detailed receipts?  -- Anonymous

Question: My boss, I believe, has a problem with ADHD. Sometimes, he bounces off the walls and is very difficult to keep up with. I try to keep up with him, but lately, I am exhausted by mid-afternoon. I am at the point that I am so frustrated because I am running in circles most of the time.

My boss will tell me he needs to schedule a meeting or various meetings throughout the day. Then, two minutes after we have met regarding his files/meeting requests, etc., he asks me if I have set up the meeting regarding a topic that he never asked me to schedule. So, I continually have to check and re-check my notes for who the invitees are for meeting A or B; then, I have to ask him if his question relates to scheduling meeting A or B. His normal reply: "Oh, no. This is another meeting I am talking about."

Many times, he forgets to give me all of the details.

Are you aware of any books that would help administrative assistants who work with bosses with ADHD? I would like to know how to set up boundaries with my boss, who cannot seem to focus.

I have set up color-coded files; I print meetings from his calendar and attach to the top of a folder for each and every meeting; I arrange files on his credenza; I keep a large, orange "Please sign" file for signatures; and we meet daily to plan meetings, plan projects and to follow up regarding unfinished projects.

I need some help as to how I can become a more efficient assistant to my boss. Any suggestions?  -- Frustrated in Michigan

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