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Mary Ellen Slayter

Question: “I’m starting an admin job soon. The words ‘event planning’ were used during the interview a couple of times, but I neglected to ask for hard details. Is this something that an admin must do regularly, and is it as difficult as it seems? The idea of organizing an event for hundreds of people seems over my head!” – Kristin, Administrative Assistant III

{ 14 comments }

Question: “Once or twice a year, I wake up and just really, really don’t feel like going to work. But it feels like the system is set up to make us lie about our absences if they’re not illness-related or scheduled well in advance. Does anyone work in a place where you feel free to tell your boss, ‘Not today, sorry, it’s been rough recently and I need a mental health break?’ How often do other admins escape for a day, and do they feel the need to be less than honest about it?” – Jane, Departmental Aide

{ 18 comments }

Question: “Where I work, there are six admins, but in the ten months I’ve been here, we’ve never met as a group once. Everything gets done and nothing falls through the cracks, but I think it would really help us all get on the same page if we have regular meetings just like any other department. Before I talk to my boss about this, what’s an efficient (and enjoyable) structure and frequency for an admin team this size? Any tips to make our meetings productive?” – Barbara, Wholesale Operations Team

{ 10 comments }

Question: “What do you worry about most during the workday? Is it a specific task, dealing with a specific person, or maybe fear for losing  your job? What’s the one pressing concern you can’t ever quite shake?” – the editors of Administrative Professional Today

{ 5 comments }

Question: “How do you tell your corporate office, kindly, that the holiday wreath they send each year doesn’t survive the shipment? We are located in Florida and every year the corporate office in Louisville sends us what was once a beautiful wreath with fresh fruit, nuts and berries. I am sure in the colder weather they hold up great … but here in Florida the fruit is already molded by the time I open the box!” – Jeannie, EA

{ 12 comments }

Question: “I know it sounds simplistic, but I’m looking for a book that will help me find my life’s purpose. I’ve been an admin for 12 years and I’m not really sure where to go from here, in my career but also in my life. The Self-Help section of the bookstore is pretty intimidating. I was hoping other admins know of something good!” – Clare, Clinic Intake Specialist

{ 18 comments }

Question: “As soon as I got my new admin job, I was deluged by office supply vendors with deals and offers to switch, and I’ve also been asked to explore ways to save money in catering, shipping, courier services, etc. But I have no experience in dealing with vendors and I don’t want to wind up making some deal I later regret. Does anyone have any advice on how to make (or refuse) new deals, and what I should be suspicious of?” – Margaret, School Board EA

{ 5 comments }

Question: “Recently I found out that my boss is clearly engaged in some things at work that aren’t illegal but are unethical. I’m not supposed to know about them; I came across the information completely by accident. I’m not sure what to do. I think he’s a decent person who’s just gotten desperate about keeping his job, but I don’t know him very well. Any advice?” – Shaina, Executive Assistant

{ 11 comments }

Question: “Our office has a pretty decent budget, and I’d like to convince our manager to get us a really nice high-volume, state-of-the-art photocopier. Ours is eleven years old and really basic, and I’m hoping these things can work wonders by now. Are there any snazzy but useful features I should be keeping in mind when I shop around, ones that can really help an admin?” – Clarissa, Guest Accounts Rep

{ 14 comments }

Question: “I sat down and estimated how much I spend each year just on work clothes, and I came away pretty depressed! Trying to ‘dress for the job you want, not the one you have’ is expensive. I’d like to know how many admins simply refuse to chase that notion because of the expense, or because they’re not particularly comfortable in clothing more formal than they wear outside the office. Personally, I’m dialing way back, and people here can think what they want to think!” – Melanie, New Bedford, Conn.

{ 26 comments }

Question: “Where I work, we don’t have performance evaluations, even though it’s a big company. We never really know when or if we’ll get a raise, and we don’t have regular meetings with our bosses to talk about how we’re doing. I’m wondering if this is unusual or just unfamiliar to me, coming from places where we had to set goals (too many, if you ask me) and had annual reviews. It feels like I might be getting short-changed somehow, but I’m not sure what to do about it. I’m not about to walk into my boss’s office and say, ‘The system needs to change!'” – Karen, Accounting Assistant

{ 4 comments }

Q: “I’m sure the pay of an Executive Assistant is very nice, but I’m unsure about whether to strive for that position. I really like being basically on the same level as the other admins in the office, working very much as a group, and I’m hesitant to work so closely with just one boss, which is what this would entail in my company. I’m wondering if anyone has any reasons I should definitely go for it—or not!” – Blythe, Admin, San Diego

{ 11 comments }

Question: “I’ve slowly realized that I’m the person everyone comes to when they want to talk about life outside the office, their personal problems, their traffic woes, their relationship headaches … I don’t mind, but I think I’d like to very slowly give up that role. Does anyone have any tips on how I might do that without shutting anyone down directly? These are all nice people and I like them a lot; I just want to focus on myself and the job more.” – Cassidy, Test Prep Assistant

{ 6 comments }

Question: “I’m starting to feel a little natural pressure to eat lunch at my desk—not because I’m so busy, and not because anyone’s recommended it, but just because there are so many people around me who do it, and I get the feeling that when I leave the building for lunch, there’s the perception that I’m not quite as dedicated as others are. Simply staying in my cubicle seems to give off the impression that I’ve never broken stride, even though I’m simply eating and browsing the web. Has anyone else felt this way? Do you think you gain points somehow when you stay deskbound (but idle) at lunch as opposed to heading out?” – Maeve, Publishing Admin

{ 28 comments }

Question: “There’s a member of our four-person admin team who does everything well and is very nice, but she is just never at work on time. Five minutes here, ten minutes there, occasionally fifteen … maybe it’s not a big deal because it’s not difficult to catch up over the course of an eight-hour day. But I worry about the example this sets, and I get irritated when I have a question and need to wait for an answer. Do you think this behavior is too minor to risk alienating someone who does a good job by mentioning it? I’m not her supervisor, just a colleague.” – Susan, Reservations Agent

{ 22 comments }

Question: “I think I’m in need of some sort of training that will teach me to turn down tasks and projects that gobble up too much time, or that I just don’t want to get involved in. I fear that as an admin for 15 years, I’ve been conditioned to say ‘Yes’ to whatever comes my way. Has anyone out there made a conscious effort to break from the agree-then-regret trap? How did you go about it?” – Monica, Email Marketing Account Coordinator

{ 5 comments }

Question: “I’m surprised at how much of my new job is about ordering food for meetings—I’m responsible for four or five a day sometimes, anything from a basket of muffins for a team huddle to a 40-seat luncheon. Has anyone learned any catering ‘cheats’ that will save money, move lines along faster or just make me look like I really know what I’m doing?” – Becky, Assistant to Investing Services

{ 12 comments }

Question: “We’ve been asked to train new hires through writing careful processes, but it’s also been suggested we mix in some short videos of our own making too. Does anyone have opinions on which types of tasks it’s easier to learn through video than through reading the steps of a process? I’m particularly curious about which method we should use to teach computer software. I know I’m mostly a text-learner … am I becoming a rare breed?” – Nathan, Administrative Support

{ 8 comments }

Question: “As Assistant Secretary to our not-for-profit board, we have the discussion constantly about the best/easiest way to share materials. We have a SharePoint platform forum; however, members say there are too many clicks to get what they need. Additionally, firewalls become an obstacle, plus the size of files, the time it takes to download large ones, etc. Any suggestions on sharing documents would be greatly appreciated.” – Theresa, Assistant Corporate Secretary

{ 16 comments }

Question: “Do you have a favorite movie or TV show about the working life of an admin? Is there any scene that has ever made you think, ‘This is totally what it’s like to be me at work’ or even ‘This is so not the way it is’?” – the editors of Administrative Professional Today

{ 34 comments }

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