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Alice Bumgarner, Moderator

Question: “Does anyone know of a recurring administrative podcast that I could listen to during my daily commute?” – Anonymous

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Question: “When called for a reference, my former employer tells prospective employers all of my strengths, but it also says I was terminated.  The reason given is that the position had changed from the time I was hired five years ago and I was no longer a good fit.  I believe  I was laid off because I got a generous severance package and unemployment.  How should I answer this tough question?  I already lost one job offer because I said I was laid off, and that did not match the employer’s reason, so they thought I was hiding something.  What should I say?  I was never on probation, disciplined, written up or warned so it was a big surprise when it happened.  The company did not replace me, the other five admins split my responsibilities, and the company “terminated” three other people after me.” – Anonymous

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Question: “Because of budget cutbacks, we had to lay off our telephone switchboard operator and convert to an automated telephone system. By dialing 0, patrons can still talk to a live person.  Many bypass the menu and immediately dial 0. We are a public library, and we composed our own menu options. It is difficult to navigate and much too long and wordy. Any suggestions for making the menu more user friendly?” — Kate Zimmerly

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Question: “Does anyone have a template or a format they use for Board Resolutions? — Ann E. Harris

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Question: “We are planning a summer event for our employees and their families. We could have as many as 400 people attending!  Any party ideas for large groups?  It will probably be a picnic, but if you have had other successful events for large groups or ideas to make a picnic fun for all, I would love to hear from you!” — Marie

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Question: “I sit by a man who is a chain smoker — some days he goes out to smoke six or seven times. He is also a heavy coffee drinker. The combination of smoke and coffee really stinks. How can I address this issue without offending him?” — Ann E. Harris

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Question: “I am sure many admin assistants have asked this question before. But I have not read anything lately about it. How do you deal with feeling like your opinion is not important enough and not being considered?” — Anonymous

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Question: “I have been told my minutes are too “wordy.”  Does anyone have a format to follow for the correct wording on report minutes?” — Rachel M. Ouimet

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Question: “Our organization promotes collaborative work styles that allow people to change seats often. Have others had any success tracking employees who work in an “Agile Programming” environment and maintaining a correct and current seating chart in this type of setting?  The administrative staff is responsible for knowing where approximately 400 people sit for maintenance issues and mail delivery and also for locating an empty desk when new employees are hired. Other than updating the file daily, (which is in Microsoft Visio) any other ideas?” — Elaine Erne

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Question: “Does anyone have any ideas for promotional contests? I am trying to bring in more customers, and our staff really gets motivated with contests.” — Angela Starnes

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Question: “We are in the process of conducting annual employee performance evaluations and I am hearing complaints about the form we have used for the past two years. Can anyone provide a source for performance evaluation forms?  I would like to get several samples to review so that we can select one prior to evaluation time next year.” — Pam Bowman

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Question: “I would like some additional training in report presentation and graphic design/layout. I type audit reports (Word and Excel), and I produce two newsletters (Microsoft Publisher). I would like to assist my bosses in better preparation and presentation of their audit reports (PowerPoint), as well as improve the look of the newsletters. Has anyone taken the career track graphic design/layout seminar or any other seminar? Any special software you can recommend?” — Diana Chase

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Question: “I have to give a presentation to a group of administrative assistants. What topics/tips can I discuss that they don’t already know?” — Anonymous

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Question: “At my office, we are bombarded with e-mail, multiple phone lines ringing, interoffice instant messaging and people walking in and out of cubicles all at the same time. When we describe the office scenario in interviews, job candidates nod and say they can handle it.  Then they get here and say, “Why didn’t you say it was this busy?” — Kristin Patterson

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Question: “I supervise a young secretary/receptionist who has been with the agency for two years. She is a pleasant person, but I have to constantly remind her how to properly handle security procedures, how to ask questions so she doesn’t send people to the wrong department, how to handle the front desk when more than one person is waiting, how to do basic purchase requests and the list goes on. I have given her a detailed SOP and sent her to admin training classes to improve her skills. But she doesn’t improve and she continues to mishandle situations. What do I do next — I truly want her to succeed?” — Jo

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Question: “I work in a health and safety department and need to purchase a software package that will track training and annual due dates, etc. Can anyone recommend a good one?” — Anonymous

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Question: “What do you use to easily remove old labels from file folders designated to be re-used?” — Karen Dow

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Question: “I have worked with my boss for 20 years, and he will retire in June after 33 years with the organization. He is moving out of state. He will receive a clock as the traditional retirement gift from the organization. I would personally like to give him a gift, but I have no idea what is appropriate. A gift certificate would have to be from a national chain, and a present would have to be small enough to transport to his new home and not become clutter. Any suggestions?” — Anonymous

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Question: “I work for a government agency that coordinates our service delivery with private industry partners. Because of this partnership, we have staff in our building who are not state employees and answer to different management. The dress code in our building is “business casual,” and the partners agreed to this policy. How do I address women who wear inappropriate low-cut blouses and very short skirts?  Approaching the appropriate supervisor hasn’t helped.  The “corporate culture” in that company is different from our state agency. Should I go to our administrator?  Am I making too much of this?  The purpose of this partnership is to help lower-income and unemployed people find jobs, or career advancement, through job search activities, training, résumé and interviewing skill coaching. I don’t see this as setting a good example to our clientele. — Rita

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Question: “I need a user-friendly org chart software that will convert or copy easily to PowerPoint. Any suggestions?” — Alicia Vandgrift

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