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Alice Bumgarner, Moderator

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

{ 7 comments }

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

{ 16 comments }

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

{ 12 comments }

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

{ 37 comments }

Question: “What do you do to prevent/avoid aggravating carpal tunnel? It seems to me that stress aggravates it more than the actual repetitive stress action. When I’m relaxed/happy it doesn’t seem to flare up or bother me at all. But it’s returned lately in my mouse hand, which is often so weak I can’t open a jar. Have you invested in any special equipment that actually works? (A wrist brace made it worse for me and bothered me as I tried to type/move the mouse.) Hot or cold gel packs? Something else?  I appreciate any suggestions that have provided relief.” —Ergonomically incorrect

{ 12 comments }

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

{ 8 comments }

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?

{ 29 comments }

Question: “How do I tell my supervisor, the CEO of small association, that she’s being overly critical and it’s hurting morale? Example: Our annual conference is an exhausting week-long event. Our days start with pre-breakfast set up checks and continue through dinners with association members, VIP speakers and  sponsors.  Last year when we returned, our boss called a “post-conference critique” meeting to point out all the things that went wrong! I felt so sorry for the conference director. The conference went well, but the CEO was so negative.  I privately told the conference director that I thought she’d done a great job, but she left her job soon after (for a better one). What can I say to our boss—who’s been in her position for 20 years and who does have many good qualities—to be less critical? No wonder she keeps losing conference directors.”  –Wish I’d spoken up

{ 10 comments }

Question: “What if you have a boss with absolutely NO organizational skills?  My boss carried several boxes of files into the office one day because his wife told him to remove them from their garage. They have been sitting in the office (still in the boxes) for more than two years! Every time I try to straighten up his office, he won’t let me throw anything away—no matter how old or irrelevant it is. I even had the Records Management folks come talk with him to let him know that keeping some things is detrimental to the business. He still insists that he is right and everyone else is wrong.” —I give up

{ 9 comments }

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

{ 17 comments }

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

{ 17 comments }

Question: “A co-worker in a position of great responsibility has a very bad habit of lying. She is amazing at her job, represents the organization well and her staff likes working for her— except for the fact that they often don’t know when she is or isn’t telling the truth.  She even lies when telling the truth would serve her much better.  One concern is that she will occasionally stretch the truth with statistics, and if she’s caught doing that, it could harm the credibility of the organization.  Other than that, she is a wonderful employee and co-worker, and no one wants to see her fired.  People who have confronted her in the past have sacrificed their relationships with her.  Has anyone experienced a similar situation?  Any advice for an optimal outcome?” —Oklahoma

{ 8 comments }

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

{ 10 comments }

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

{ 9 comments }

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

{ 12 comments }

Question: “What do you do when you offer to help everybody in the office and no one will give you a chance to show them what you can do? For example, my manager asked me to do a simple table.  After I did it, she remarked, ‘I didn’t know you knew how to that.’ Should I just not offer to help?  It is a no win situation if they keep refusing. Thanks for letting me blow off some steam.” —Frustrated

{ 4 comments }

Question: “As an EA, scheduling meetings is one of my more challenging duties, especially when the participants are all C-level executives. I’m in the process of scheduling several meetings for next month. Has anyone come up with a ‘better mousetrap’? Is the old-fashioned method of offering a few dates and using a basic chart to narrow down a mutually convenient date and time still the best way? I’m looking forward to hearing some new tricks to make this easier!” —Trisha Heil

{ 17 comments }

Question: “How do you train employees who can’t (or won’t) think and act on their own?”  —Frustrated they don’t ‘get it’

{ 11 comments }

Question: “I am starting a new job next week as an executive assistant.  My first job will be to organize my boss who is the president of the company. Where do I start?  Also, do I get him his morning coffee?”  —EA-to-be

{ 11 comments }

Question: “I am starting a new job next week as an executive assistant.  My first job will be to organize my boss who is the president of the company. Where do I start?  Also, do I get him his morning coffee?”  —EA-to-be

{ 1 comment }

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