Alice Bumgarner, Moderator, Author at Business Management Daily
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Alice Bumgarner, Moderator

Question: “How do you open the door to a conversation on work ethic with a co-worker? How do you help co-workers improve their work ethic?  Is there training?” —An administrative secretary

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Question: “As the song goes, ‘There’s never enough time to do the things we want to do once we find them’ … so, what’s your favorite time management tip?” —The editors
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Question: What’s your biggest technology challenge? Chances are, you’re not alone in your frustrations. Please share your greatest tech challenges (and any solutions you’ve found) in a comment below. We’ve found that peer-to-peer advice is often the best to help admins work smarter, save time and master new skills. Thanks for sharing! —The editors

(Are you not yet a member of our Admin Pro Forum? Share your best advice with your peers:  Click here to join, it’s free!)

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Question: “Have you ever experienced age discrimination in hiring? My significant other and I have each been required to fill out background check forms that include our full birthdates and our college graduation dates. Even though the forms state that age will not be a factor in interviewing/hiring, it’s now obvious that we are over 50 years old. I see no good reason why these forms can’t wait until the company has made an offer or is about to. Do you? How would you handle this?” —Over 50  (Are you not yet a member of our Admin Pro Forum? Please join and share your advice with your peers:  Click here to join, it’s free!)

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Question:  “I am thinking of upgrading my phone and would like feedback on how your smartphone has made your job as an EA more productive and efficient? I would love to get as many specifics as possible to help with my decision. Thanks!”  —Amber Shumperd

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Question: “I work for three directors who are all very busy. Their workloads have increased over the past year, thus increasing my workload.  I am able to complete my critical tasks, but I am unable to find time to do the less important tasks or projects that I have been asked to work on or take on additional tasks.  We are going to request an additional assistant to work for two of the directors, while I am assigned to the busiest of the three. I would like to track my time so that we have justification for the request, but I’m at a loss as to how to do that. Any suggestions or ideas from anyone who has done this in their executive assistant role?” —Busy E.A.

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Question: “I have a few dilemmas when working remotely. During a telephone meeting/conference call, how do you gauge the body language of the group when you’re the only one dialing into the meeting from home?  (And how do you get your 2 cents in on the speakerphone without interrupting the flow of the group meeting in-person?) Do you copy your boss on every email—even if it’s not info she needs, just so she knows what you are working on and/or that you are busy? And what’s the best way for a remote worker to replace the informal bonding that happens ‘around the water cooler’?”  —M.B.

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Question: “I was terminated just before the end of my probationary period. I have my personnel file and there are a number of untruths in it. I had one self-evaluation which was signed and submitted prior to my taking sick leave for a heart catheterization. I received an unsatisfactory evaluation after my return to work. (My position was filled by someone who had formerly been in the office but left and was unhappy in her new position.) Was this an unlawful termination? I am more interested in suing the individuals involved, unless I can possibly get my old position back by suing the organization (or another position at the same location). I appreciate any advice.” — J.F.

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Question: “Recently I received an email from a manager reprimanding me for some work I’d done that was ‘not the best use of your time.’ He pointed to other projects that would be ‘a better use’ of my time. What upset me was that he also cc’d my direct supervisor. It was demoralizing. What happened to approaching someone directly with criticism? Now I don’t trust this manager. Has this happened to anyone else?” —Deflated by a cc

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Question: “We have a member of our senior management team who never has anything positive to say about any of our employees. How do you counter someone over you that is negative day in and day out?” —Sandra

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Question:  “I’ve been at my job a little over a year and have been told performance reviews will be coming up ‘sometime soon.’  I want to be prepared and would appreciate advice. Since the economy is so bad, I’m curious if any of you are receiving raises?  Who brought it up—you or your boss? How do you know how much to ask for? Should I accept the offer or try to negotiate? I’d like to stay in this position—I’m still learning things and taking on more tasks, but I’m only making ends meet.  I’m not job hunting; does that take away my leverage?”  –I’d like a raise

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Question:  “In this ‘jobless economic recovery’ many cut jobs were not replaced, including those of both managers and admins. My question:  Does your company have an ‘official’ admin team?  If so, what is the scope of the team? Do managers pitch in with admin tasks and vice versa? Which ones? Are there tasks you have dropped? Thanks for sharing.”  – Carolyn

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Question: “This time of year everyone is resolving to get a handle on their calendars—and make sure managers  know about competing priorities. My question: Doesn’t anybody use Lotus Notes anymore?  All the calendar planning/time management advice seems geared toward Outlook? What about Lotus Notes users? Any new tips for us?” —Diane

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Question: “Has anyone noticed how often food is used as a reward at work? I’m trying to eat healthy and be more active to set a good example for my kids. But it’s hard. I’m in a sedentary job and treats often appear (vendors bring in lunches and cookies, we celebrate co-workers birthdays with cakes, the kitchen is often full of goodies especially over the holidays, the vending machine calls my name). Can anyone share tips for avoiding temptation at work or suggest ideas I might suggest for non-food rewards/recognition? Employers have a stake in keeping us healthy, too. Do any of your employers encourage healthy eating and exercise? How? I used to take a brisk walk at lunchtime, but ‘Baby, it’s cold outside!’ Thanks for sharing.” —Trying to down-size

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Question: “I have a college degree, and $20,000 in student loan debt to show for it. I’ve now been in the workforce seven years and I’ve noticed that the degree (I’m still paying for it) gives me a level of respect that others—even those who have years more work and life experience—don’t get. Do you think there’s a bias against those who don’t hold degrees? This is the second place I’ve worked where I see someone working longer hours, producing more work than others who hold degrees, yet in meetings she gets no recognition while the “professional” workers (who pile the work on her) get recognized.  Should I suggest she take the time to earn her degree after hours or online? Knowing she’s already stressed out—and that she doesn’t actually need one to do her job well? I think she hesitates to put her foot down because she fears job hunting (many good jobs screen out people without degrees). Or is there something else going on?” —Why the disrespect?

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Question: “I work in a small organization and often say that I find out things about myself from co-workers before I even know them! I have stopped socializing after work hours, especially when alcohol is involved, because of the rampant gossip of co-workers. What is the best way to handle—and minimize—office gossip?”  —Not a gossip

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Question: “I am the type of Admin who wants to find a great boss/career to stick with by following the boss as he gets promoted. I thought I had finally found a boss to lead my career path. We had a very good relationship in the beginning, and I enjoy working with him. But when I mentioned I wanted to follow him as he gets promoted, his response was, “Don’t hitch your cart to my horse!” So now I wonder if he even wants me as his assistant. He constantly tells me to keep my eye out for something better and don’t let him stop me from moving forward. I have received multiple ‘above average’ evaluations, so it’s not anything I’m doing wrong. Others say he’s the type of manager who looks out only for himself. How should I handle this? Should I start looking for something else in hopes of landing the right, understanding boss? I don’t want to work with a new boss all over again. I’m ready to settle down.  –Following the wrong lead

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Question: “I feel chained to the job and out of the loop at home and everywhere. My job is a good one, and I’ve been here about a year. It involves recruiting so I’m constantly reminded how lucky I should feel that I have a job at all in this economy. But I’m just sad that I can’t seem to find a better balance. There are never enough hours in the day. Working part-time is not an option—since we have three teens to get through college. Any advice for finding a better balance and a sunnier outlook?” –Working mom

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Question: “What are the most important attributes for a combined office manager/receptionist position (for both co-workers and customers)? Specifically, I’m asking for a small, busy dental office. Thanks!”  —Kimberly

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Question:  “Can I ask: Exactly what is the advantage of LinkedIn?  (And I want specifics, not just for general business networking.) Many people I know are on it, but no one can say what they get out of it. Is it kind of like Facebook? I joined reluctantly because I was asked so often, but really, I don’t need one more thing to check. All I see is a limited number of people showing off (by getting their friends to recommend them). Is it just me? What’s the advantage of having ‘connections’ if most are silent anyway?” —I don’t get it

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