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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 wish to start a monthly meeting to include as many of the Administrative Assistants throughout the organization as possible. Does anyone have any hints on if monthly meetings are a good idea, if one hour is enough time, etc.?

I envision these meetings not only building relationships among all the assistants, but also giving all assistants an idea of what each area is currently working on and, if they're working on similar projects, allowing them to share feedback. Also, they can update one another on any major process changes in their departments. (We have a problem with one unit deciding to disband some information that is needed for reports, not aware that other departments are counting on it all being located in one place.)  -- Wisconsin

Question: I am a notary public and I was asked by my new boss to sign some legal documents for the sale of his home. I accidentally entered the wrong expiration date for my commission and need to know if I can just change the year, which is what I messed up, and initial it. Will those documents still be legal?

Has anyone else done this, or am I just a scatterbrain? I just received my commission a couple of months ago so I am new to this. Help!  -- Anonymous

Question: My husband and I would like to move back to Dallas but want to have employment before I get there. I have sent resumes out, but it does not seem to be productive. Does anyone have any advice?  -- Moving

Question: Just wanted to check to see how other companies are defining their administrative assistants' titles.

For instance, in my company, if your boss’s title is supervisor, you’re a Sr. Clerical Associate; if you work for a manager, you’re an Administrative Assistant I; if you work for a director, you’re an Administrative Assistant II; if you work for an executive (VP/GM), you're an Executive Assistant; if you work for an SVP/brand president, you’re an Executive Assistant II; if you work for an EVP/region president, you're an Executive Assistant III.

I'm currently an Executive Assistant to the VP at a company with more than 40,000 employees.

I have a job interview with a national company and the position reports to a director, but the title is Executive Administrative Assistant.

What are other companies doing? How is your job title determined?  -- Executive Assistant to VP

Question: I have been struggling with this issue for ... well, years.

I am an administrative secretary to the director of my department. A few months after I was hired (five years ago), they opened up a position for a receptionist. We hired a woman who seemed bubbly and friendly: no problem with answering the phones and handling the mail. After hiring her, the director decided that I would be her supervisor (without any change in title or increase in pay).

Within the next year, she started having crying jags because her grandmother was sick. By the second year into her service, she got much worse. She was acting very oddly -- manic -- and then, she started becoming adversarial and started making claims that people were following her ... including helicopters. She was having hallucinations.

Within a month, she seemed to have a complete breakdown and collapsed on the floor, writhing and crying and begging for help.

One of the assistant directors helped get her to a psychiatric hospital. She was hospitalized and out on leave for about four or five months. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She had been prescribed medication previous to her breakdown, but we suspect that she stopped taking her medication.

She came back to work part time and gradually increased her schedule back to full time. And we accommodated her, allowing her to take the time off for all of her doctor appointments.

I feel for her, tremendously. I have friends who have had serious mental health problems. I understand how debilitating it can be and how important it is for her to have stability and a steady paycheck. I have wanted to help her.

Within the year after she came back from her leave, she seemed to be doing better. But then, slowly, she started sliding back to that unstable place. She comes to work dressed totally inappropriately: in flip-flops, sweat pants and t-shirts, many times. She walks around barefoot more and more frequently. He mannerisms and voice become very exaggerated and, well, odd.

She is constantly up and down from her desk, going into the kitchen, asking to use the bathroom eight to 15 times a day. (She does get an hour for lunch and two 15-minute breaks, as well). She has been in the negative for her sick time for several months now. She doesn't have any vacation or sick time left because of all the time that she has taken off (not doctor-related; I let her make up that time). A number of times, she come into work hours late, without getting an OK beforehand and with no plausible explanation.

I have spoken to her several times. I have written her up and had her sign the letter. I have kept records of all the problem behavior. I have contacted our employee assistance program on several occasions. She went to see them (at my request) on numerous occasions. I have talked to my boss; she basically doesn't want to have anything to do with the situation. I have researched the issues of bipolar disorders and the workplace on the internet, but it is mostly from the perspective of the person afflicted with the illness.

I am trying very hard to work with this situation. I can see, though, that it is unlikely to get any better. And it is really frustrating me and wearing me down.

To top it off, my boss has me cover for this receptionist whenever she is away from her desk or out for the day. So, not only do I have to deal with this very frustrating and delicate situation, but I am the one who has to compensate for her shortcomings by covering for her all of the time.

Frankly, I find all of this very unfair.

Even if I asked my boss to take over supervising this employee, it would not help me. My boss has a reputation for NOT dealing with anything. She is the proverbial head in the sand. If I was no longer this employee's supervisor, I am guessing it would just get worse and then I wouldn't be able to do anything to improve the situation.

It seems as though my only option is to continue to deal with this on a day-to-day basis or look for a new job.

I know this is a mouthful, but perhaps someone has experienced something similar.

Keep in mind, though, that this is not just another difficult employee who can be disciplined and eventually fired if they don't comply. It is not that simple. She has a mental illness and she is a union employee on top of that. It isn't that I want to fire her, but it has been literally years that this is going on now. I can't take it much more.

Any suggestions?  -- Susan

Question: I like my job, and my manager and I want to keep working for my organization in the federal government. However, my salary has not increased in 6 years due to the job classification cap. I am about to retire in 3 years. How do I approach my manager to increase my salary, when I know the answer to a raise is negative?  -- Lynn

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

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