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Mary Ellen Slayter

Question: “I have to send out 50 email invitations to a formal business dinner for important donors—the first of many, I think—and I’m really not sure how to address the recipients or phrase these invitations. There’ll be no attachment. What should such an email look and sound like? In particular, what about the greeting, conclusion and subject line, and should I include any images or designs to give it a different tone than a normal email?” – Angelina, Membership Coordinator

{ 10 comments }

Question: “A co-worker recently came back from a vacation during which she obviously had some cosmetic surgery done. We’ve all been pretending not to notice, since we’re not sure how to compliment her new look without making her feel self-aware about how she accomplished it. Is this a case where we just need to keep mum even if we think she might possibly like that someone noticed the change?” – Frannie, Assistant Sales Manager

{ 12 comments }

Question: “I am responsible for keeping the keys and the scheduling calendar book for our two company vans. I constantly have employees walking into my office, e-mailing me or calling me to see if a van is available. They are used by employees for going on sales calls, running company errands or attending meetings, conferences, etc. I would like to automate this process so everyone can view a calendar on their computer to check availability and reserve a van on their own. Could we use Outlook or SharePoint? What method would you use?” – Lisa, Administrative Assistant

{ 13 comments }

Question: “My boss wants me to research all-day team-building activities that, in her words, will ‘make people suffer a little.’ Her theory is that we all need to have our cushy office lifestyles totally stripped away to kick us out of our comfort zones and remind us of how to work together on a more human level. What have been others’ experiences with these sorts of ‘pleasantly harsh’ activities, as she refers to them? What should we try, and what should we avoid?” – Donna, law office admin

{ 13 comments }

Question: “I’ve been applying for quite a few jobs recently. I’ve become wary of any job posting that leads to a long online template where I fill in forms and submit all my information through them, as opposed to places that simply ask for an emailed résumé. It seems to me that companies serious about finding the right person for a specific position only use the latter method instead of being so impersonal. Am I wrong? Have other admins found that a long online application process usually leads to silence?” – Victoria, unemployed admin

{ 8 comments }

Question: “I am an administrative assistant at a very large company and my cubicle is right outside the door of one of the directors. He happens to loudly use a particular common curse word whenever he’s frustrated. I cringe every time I sense it coming. In most cases I try to scurry away from my desk so I don’t have to hear it, but sometimes I do get caught off guard. Do you have any suggestions for how I can deal with this, or approach the problem directly?” – Anonymous & Frustrated

{ 10 comments }

Question: “Is there a particular boss from your past whose antics absolutely drove you up a wall? One whose behavior was off-the-charts annoying, and whose methods made you wonder how a person like that could ever become a boss in the first place? We’d love to hear your story!” – the editors of Administrative Professional Today

{ 26 comments }

Question: “I was really looking forward to working for the company that hired me a few weeks ago, but right away I got the sense that no one was very interested in making me feel like I was a valued part of a team. I wasn’t introduced to anyone but my boss, and no one sitting near me has introduced themselves. I won’t be working with them directly, but it still feels uncomfortable to go into work each day with strangers who seem to want to remain strangers. What course of action would you recommend to a person who’s shy and doesn’t want to walk around telling people who I am?” – Maddy, Customer Relations

{ 22 comments }

Question: “My boss has asked me to find someone to deliver a one-hour motivational talk at a company retreat—it could be anyone with a lot of business experience who will basically put a charge into people to reach for the kind of career they dream of. With a budget of only a few hundred dollars, where should I begin to look?” – Ilene, Assistant Conference Coordinator

{ 9 comments }

Question: “Five months ago I was hired as an admin at a telecommunications company. Recently I’ve come to realize that while my boss and I do get along, he’s kind of a classic jerk—and everyone warned me about it. He’s rude, condescending, argumentative and sometimes just plain mean, but he seems to get away with a lot because he’s apparently terrific at bringing in profits. Does anyone but me feel there’s something not right about working so hard for someone you find personally offensive, even if you need the paycheck and your work relationship is perfectly functional?” – Valerie, Administrative Assistant

{ 18 comments }

Question: “As soon as I got my first admin job, I was urged by everyone I know to get on LinkedIn right away. That was easy, but aside from having a profile and a bunch of contacts, I’m not sure what I can really do with LinkedIn. Where are the admins gathering when I go there, and how are they helping each other?” – Wallace, Purchase and Audit Coordinator

{ 3 comments }

Question: “Our admin team is compiling one list each month of 10 tips to get better at a certain skill. We simply post these on our walls at work to always keep us in learning mode. This month’s list is about time management. For the first time, we’re not filling up a list very quickly—we keep rejecting ideas because so many of them haven’t really helped us that much in the past. Does anyone have any gems they can share?” – Samantha, Customer Service Dispatcher

{ 14 comments }

Question: “I have worked as an administrative assistant for seven years with the same boss. I have constantly asked for more responsibilities, as I feel I could do more—I’ll be graduating with my master’s degree in December. My boss seems to just brush my request off. At what point should I start seeking opportunities elsewhere?” – Natarsha, Administrative Assistant

{ 15 comments }

Question: “A situation has arisen in our office involving a lack of raises for admins going back three years, while other departments get steady increases. We believe that only the whole admin team presenting our grievance at once will work to get a change made, because individual complaints just haven’t had any impact. I’m looking for guidance on the best way to present a ‘unified front’ when an issue needs to be addressed this way. Should our concerns be in writing? Should one of us act as the leader who presents them?” – Daphne, Conference Center Assistant

{ 11 comments }

Question: “I am planning to move out of state this summer. When would be the appropriate time to let my current employer know of my plans? I would like to give them enough notice so they can find a replacement, but I’m concerned that if I let them know sooner rather than later, they might replace me. I would like to work as much as I can.” – Nancy

{ 15 comments }

Question: “I go to work every day suspecting I could actually do the job of the supervisor I’m assisting—and maybe even do it a little bit better. I’m trying to be as patient as I can, but I’m finding it harder and harder to stay motivated when I feel this way. How do other admins manage it when they have these thoughts?” – Ivana, Shipping Logistics Assistant

{ 3 comments }

Question: “What surprises did you have about your job or the administrative profession as a whole in the year 2015? Was it just another year—or did something really stand out?” – the editors of Administrative Professional Today

{ 10 comments }

Question: “We’re having a real problem keeping office supply costs in check. When things are supplied for people free at work, they seem to get extra careless about their use, and the number of pens, sticky notes, plastic spoons, paper towels and cups we go through is staggering and expensive. Our admin team has been trying to come up with signs to place in the supply area and the kitchen reminding people that these costs add up. What could we possibly write that would have an effect?” – Sula, Document Creation Specialist

{ 22 comments }

Question: “What is the best way to tell your boss that you are looking at other job opportunities? We have a great working relationship; I’m just ready for something different.” – Debbie, Executive Secretary

{ 9 comments }

Question: “I’m looking for a project tracking program for my department. We handle high volumes of licensure and construction projects for many different facilities, and they are very detailed with lots of moving parts. What software do you use for tracking your projects?” – Laura, Assistant VP

{ 5 comments }

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