27 February 2009

Different spellings: British, Canadian and American

I was proofing a document the other day, but since I've been reading documents from the United States and Canada, I couldn't remember if behaviorial was the American or the Canadian spelling. Thank goodness for Google, I use it all the time to get answers. This time I came up with a site called Karen's Linguistics Issues. It gives the proper spelling for British, Canadian and American words and is very user friendly. It will definitely be added to My Favourites on the side bar of the blog under Spelling. By the way, behaviourial is spelled this way in Canada.

I hope you find it as useful as I did.

22 February 2009

Protocol for addressing Canadian and foreign dignitaries

A reader asked if I would post on the proper protocol to address Canadian dignitaries such as the Prime Minister or other Ministers in the government. This government site gives you that information and more.

I will add it to my Favourites on the side bar of the blog under Addressing Dignitaries Protocol for everyone's convenience, but I would suggest you add it to your own Favourites as well. This is a must-have resource.

For my readers from other countries, you will note there is a section for foreign dignitaries and if you click on that it will give you the proper form to address just about anyone in the world.

21 February 2009

That's not my job!

I have noticed in my role as an assistant that I can be called upon to do a lot of things. Our job is not just one thing, but many different tasks and it changes every day. If a conference comes up and they are looking for someone to do the registration, we can step in and do that or we can organize it from start to finish.

If someone is needed at the Reception Desk to greet guests and take calls, we can easily step in. What about brainstorming to see what organizational tools would work best in the office? Who better than the admins to come up with something that works.

Sometimes scheduling meetings can be a headache with no end in sight trying to get all the parties together. Give the task to an assistant and we will work with everyone involved and not only set up the meeting date and time, but book the boardroom, photocopy and distribute the meeting materials and arrange the flight and hotel if necessary.

If your job changes, adapt to the new challenges. Be open to it as it not only makes the job more interesting, but more importantly, it makes you more valuable.

We are fortunate that our roles are so versatile and in these times of lay offs, that is a good thing. Someone who says, "That's not my job!" will not go far as we need to be available to fill in the gap wherever we can.

19 February 2009

Welcome to Canada, Mr. President...

Obama fever hit Ottawa today as President Barack Obama made his first official visit outside of the United States. I am not sure exactly what it is that has endeared this President to everyone's hearts, but he certainly has made an impression on us.

I think he might be the change people are looking for from the regular politician and the same old, same old. He seems to offer youth, energy, charisma and hope for better times ahead. As the first black President, the message is that anyone can aspire to the highest office, no matter their race, colour or creed, which I think gives us hope that we as humans have progressed from our past prejudices and hatreds.

He seems like a very capable man and it will be interesting to see how he performs as he enters this presidency in the worst economic times we have seen in a long time.

His family seem like the ideal American family. His wife is beautiful and has been compared to Jackie Kennedy in her style. His children look well behaved and are pretty young girls. Their new role must seem awesome to them.

It has always amazed me however that once someone becomes a President they start being referred to by their last name by the media and people in general. Everyone up here calls him Obama and our Prime Minister is called Harper.

Why do we not use their full name? Or it is that we just don't know how to address them so revert to last names?

What is the proper etiquette when addressing or writing to a President? If you ever have an opportunity to meet him, you should call him Mr. President or Sir and if you are writing correspondence you would write Dear Mr. President. If you are talking about him you should say The President of the United States or President Obama.

Letters to the President should be addressed as below:

The President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC, 20500

I think people in positions of power should be given the respect for the office they are in and not be addressed simply by their last name. Even for convenience sake.

What does this post have to do with Administrative Assistants? Well, behind every important business person, whether they be the head of a Fortune 500 company, a movie star or even The President of the United States, they all need an assistant to help them manage their responsibilities. Our role is important to the success of executives and managers everywhere.

On a personal note, I work across the street from Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada. Our streets were filled with police officers at every corner, helicopters, police snipers on roof tops and barricaded streets. Traffic was heavy on the way home as we made way for the President to get back to the Airport for his flight home to Washington.

I think the visit went well and we are hoping for good relationships between our two countries. I heard on the news tonight that President Obama even went to a local bakery for some maple leaf cookies and asked for one of our delicious Beavertails.

P.S. Like everything else nowadays, if you want answers to just about anything -- Google it. Here is a video link on the proper etiquette to address a President.

14 February 2009

Just a secretary...

When I was young I wanted to be a teacher. There are many teachers in my extended family and it seemed like something I could do well, but our family did not have any money to further my education and I became a secretary instead.

Another time I wanted to try a career in the travel business. I am sure I could have done well as I have learned nearly everything there is to know about getting someone from point A to point B. I have become familiar with time zones, airport codes and international holidays to avoid.

Desktop publishing would have been interesting as well as there is so much you can do with graphics, text boxes and watermarks. My sister, who is also a secretary, is great with graphics and has designed some beautiful covers, invitations, flyers and other marketing material.

I have seen some contracts for event planners and it seems like a lucrative career to get into. I love the planning, organizing and running around that goes into bringing a conference from a thought to a successful event.

Now I am glad I stayed in this career because I can do all these things. I make travel arrangements, do desktop publishing (well, I usually get my sister to help me), organize events and now I am even going to be speaking at an Admin event in April (which I will pretend is sort of like teaching)...Yes, I'm glad I stayed in this career because I can do a bit of everything and that avoids boredom at work.

8 February 2009

Sticks and stones will break my bones...but names will never hurt me

Depending on where you work and the work culture, it can determine what you are called at the office.

The one I like the least is staff. Doesn't it give you the feeling that you are really low on the important ladder and are lumped all together beneath the executives? I have found in some work environments there is a real distinction between executives and staff. It is almost palpable. Often, I have heard co-workers ask, "Are staff included?"when there is some function or event at the office, because it is not always assumed.

The term employee has a better sound to it, but it also tends to lump us all together into one big bundle and gives a no-name kind of feeling.

The term Assistant begins to describe what we do and if you add the word My, it shows how closely we work with our professionals. I don't mind being referred to as someone's assistant.

My all-time favourite however is colleague. My current boss always refers to me as his colleague, both to those within our company and to external contacts when referring them to me. This term denotes a close working relationship. It also shows respect for our position and for the assistant as a person.

The boss-assistant relationship is one of the closest working relationships you will have and if you have a good relationship, there will be a true team spirit. The assistant has an inner knowledge of what is going on with their boss from our daily one-on-one meetings, reading their e-mails and letter mail, screening and receiving telephone calls, as well as scheduling their day. Assistants really are the pulse in an office and our bosses depend on us to do our job well and get them where they need to be.

On that note, It is hard to believe we are getting close to Administrative Professionals' Day which is on April 22nd. That is a good time to recognize assistants for all that they do.

I hope all of your professionals appreciate what a privilege it is to have someone look after them. Imagine, if we had assistants at home to pay the bills, do the budget, organize dinners, answer our calls and follow up with reminders -- it is starting to sound pretty good.

Thank your assistant and show your appreciation for all they do every day, but especially on Administrative Professionals' Day.


Flip side...

I tend to use the term boss when I refer to my employer. My boss doesn't like it however and I can see why, as the name tends to put them at a distance. The term employer has a nicer sound to it, but is still pretty generic. Many times I refer to them as: management, professionals or executives, which is getting closer to what they do, but again, I would have to say the term colleague probably describes it the best no matter what side of the fence you are on.

This year I forgot National Bosses' Day on October 16th, but I am probably in good company as how many of us remembered it? I only found out it existed last year, so perhaps I can be excused, but are we as easy on our bosses if they forget our special day?

Happy belated bosses day to all my colleagues that I have worked with over the years...you know who you are, and I'm sure looking forward to Administrative Professionals Day!

P.S. Last year in the two-week period prior to Administrative Professional's week, I had 600 or more hits on my blog every day and each time they were querying something like, What to do for Admin Assistant's Day? or Gifts or Ideas for Administrative Professionals Week. Just in case you think your boss doesn't think about it -- many obviously do...