27 April 2009

New Hire Overload

I remember starting a new job at a law firm and on my first day I was handed a 3-inch white binder and told to read it. The Human Resources Director pointed me to a small office and I was left alone to read what must have been 200 pages.

As I was going through the manual, I saw chapters on office procedures, confidentiality, health and safety, security and more. All important information, but I knew I couldn't possibly retain much of what I was looking at in one sitting so I started to cheat and flip through a few tabs because I had to sign a form that I read the manual.

I remember throughout the first week that I was there, when I asked a question on how to do something, someone would say, "it's in the manual, did you not read it?"

I think people forget how overwhelming everything can be when you start a new job. Your co-workers are probably all new to you, you don't know how to use the photocopier or fax machine and more importantly "where is the bathroom?"

This particular law firm had approximately 150 people in the office. I was taken on a tour of the premises and they pointed out the office equipment I would need to use and introduced me to everyone we met. How was I going to remember everyone's name, let alone find everything again? I was still holding the binder they had given me, while trying to look intelligent and smiling as we moved along to the next person.

The first week on the job can be very overwhelming. Be kind to your new hires and available to answer their questions and help them learn the ropes. The sooner they are up to speed, the sooner they will be able to contribute to the team and that helps everyone.

22 April 2009

Happy Administrative Professionals' Day!

I hope everyone has a great day today whatever your office may be doing, or not doing. I am speaking this morning at an administrative event so looking forward to meeting some new assistants.

The one good thing about speaking at an event where nobody knows me is, they have no idea whether my hair is supposed to be this dark...

Some good advice to pass along: Never colour your hair the night before an event. Give yourself at least two weeks prior and it will be just right.

Have a great day everyone!


10 April 2009

Keep your Inbox running on empty

There are so many e-mails coming at us these days that e-mail management is very important. I find the best way for me to keep my Inbox organized is to immediately deal with the e-mail when it arrives. I never have more than four or five e-mails in my Inbox for any length of time.

Here are five buts you can do without:

But I don't have time!
Dealing with an e-mail does not necessarily mean taking action on it right away, sometimes we are just too busy. It may be something that you have to deal with tomorrow or next week. Move it from your Inbox to a Task with a reminder to do it later. The main thing is to get it out of your Inbox or things become too cluttered.

But it can't wait!
At times it is just as quick to answer the e-mail and be done with it, but I like to keep a record of the e-mail so I know I did the work. That is when subfolders come in handy, but if your subfolders are too complicated it can turn into a never-never land and you will never find it again. Try to keep it simple. Have four or five main folders and then put subfolders under them for anything that has to do with the main heading. For instance, I have folders for the Board of Directors, International, Personal and one for Work Information. Under those main headings I put subfolders for anything that relates to the main heading, with clear names of what is in them. Of course what works for me will probably not apply to you so you need to set up folders that apply to your working situation, but the fewer the better.

But what about my boss?

I have a folder dedicated specifically for my boss's e-mails. I set a Rule to make it go to that folder with a special ring so I know when I need to pay attention and check my e-mail account. What I especially like about it is now when I need to find an e-mail that my boss sent me, it is not tangled up with all the other e-mails, but in a folder all its own. Makes my life simpler.

But what about the other stuff?

I get internal newsletters and other information-type e-mails so I have a folder called News and dump everything like that in there until I have a chance to go back and read it or delete it. I have actuallly set a Rule for that as well, so it goes directly to that folder.

But I can't see it!
You may panic and think because it is out of sight you will forget about it, but if you move an e-mail unread into a folder, it will bold the folder so you know there is an unread e-mail in there. You can also set a follow up on your e-mail, with a reminder set and it will pop up in your Reminder box so don't worry, it won't get lost.

The main thing is to get it out of your Inbox until you have time to deal with it. It is so nice to see my Inbox on empty. Much more manageable...Sigh! Feels much better.

8 April 2009

April 22nd - Administrative Professionals' Day

It often amazes me that a day is set aside for our profession. Administrative professionals usually go about doing their work with little or no recognition. We do the behind-the-scenes work.

How often I have organized a conference or arranged a Board meeting and after all the organization and planning it goes off without a hitch. To those who don't know, it is because of the work behind the scenes that everything went smoothly. Unfortunately, if it doesn't go well is when it is noticed the most.

I like organizing and feel satisfied when everything comes together nicely, but it takes a lot of work to get there. You have to look at the little details and consider all the things that might go wrong and then work towards making it not happen as well as making what you want happen.

An organized person thinks everyone knows how to arrange things, but that is not the case. Have you ever been at an event that isn't well organized? The last Board dinner I arranged the person from the hotel who was assigned to us came up to me and said, "It is so nice when things are organized. You cannot believe how hectic it is when it isn't." He then proceeded to tell me about a previous event he was at where there was no organization. He said people didn't know where to sit and kept asking him, but he had been left with no instructions and the contact person was nowhere to be found. He said it was awful and he thanked me for making his job easier.

So pat yourselves on the back for all the work you do to make things run smoothly. That is a big part of the job.

Is your office doing anything for Administrative Professionals' Day? I think it is preferable for those who do set it aside to include all support staff as most offices now work in teams and everyone should be rewarded for a job well done.

Appreciation certainly goes a long way to making your day a little brighter and your workload seem a little lighter.