12 July 2010

Admin in the Spotlight: Interview with Lynn Holgate, 2010 Stevie® Award winner

Lynn Holgate, an Executive Assistant at High Performance Technologies, Inc. (HPTI) in Reston, Virginia, has been awarded the 2010 Stevie® Award for Support Staffer of the Year.

The Stevie® Awards is a prestigious award honouring the achievements and positive contributions of organizations and business people worldwide.  The fact that they have a category for Support Staffer of the Year is recognition of the important role support staff play in any organization.

Lynn was in good company as some notable winners of the 2010 Stevie® Awards included:

- Executive of the Year: Lawrence J. Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle
- Best Overall Company of the Year: Apple Inc.
- Business Turnaround of the Year: Ford Motor Company
- Best Home Page: CNN.com
- Environmental Responsibility Program of the Year: The Timberland Company
- Customer Service Team of the Year: Cigna
- Most Innovative Company of the Year: Mozilla
- Fastest Growing Company of the Year: Yodle
- Communications or PR Campaign of the Year: Hilton Hotels
- New Product or Service of the Year: Chase Card Services, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Lynn has worked at HPTI for 8 ½ years and was thrilled to be recognized at this level. She says it has added a jump in her step to come to work in the mornings knowing that her peers have recognized her in this way and that her colleagues who nominated her feel that way about her. Lynn has been in the administrative field for 28 years and to be honoured like this has confirmed that her efforts and hard work have been appreciated.

Ms. Holgate is the Executive Assistant to the President, she also reports to the Director of Human Resources and manages a staff of four. Lynn has organized strategic events such as the company's internal trade show, all-hands meetings, the annual awards banquet, internal events and leadership off-site meetings. She said that receiving the award has made her proud to do the work that she does. Her family and friends were also very excited for her.

On the night of the awards Lynn reports she was sitting at a table with nine of her colleagues from HPTI including the Senior Vice-President. When she was announced the winner, the Senior Vice-President sent a text message to the President about her win and when she sat down after making her speech she saw a message from the President congratulating her.

It was an exciting night for HPTI as Jonathan Goodnight was also awarded Technical Professional of the Year and they were finalists in ten other categories, including Best Recognition Event, Best Corporate Communicator, Best Product Developer and Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year.

Congratulations again to Lynn Holgate for a job well done!

9 July 2010

Taking stock

Whenever I finish a project I always ask myself, or get together with those who assisted me, and ask the question, "What went well and what could have gone better?"

It is always good to take stock and congratulate each other on a job well done, but also to point out areas that could be improved or brainstorm the best way to do it better.  On my most recent assignment everything went very smoothly.  I mentally checked off that the checklists of what to bring to the various functions were critical to have.  This meeting was held out of town and those are a bit more hectic because I can't easily go to my desk to get what I need. Before I left I went over my checklists a few times to make sure I had everything and it was stress free each day as I reviewed the lists and checked off the items to bring.

I also made templates for the minutes of the various meetings and those were wonderful to have.  I was in a meeting all day taking minutes and then had a side meeting scheduled at 4 that I had to take minutes at, but in this case the minutes had to be transcribed, printed and put in the  meeting packages for the next day.  I also had a reception and dinner to attend that night at 6.  By using the template I was able to accomplish everything with enough time to change, touch up my make up and hair and then off to the next event. 

One thing I noted could be improved was I found myself scrambling a bit to make sure I had information for the varioius participants that needed to be signed or given to them and decided folders with each of their names would work better.  Using coloured folders works great when you are busy in a meeting, you can just grab the colour you want.  For instance my signing folder is blue so for the next meeting I will be sure to make the appropriate number of blue folders with a clear label with the name of the person that it pertains to.  I will put things that need signing, but also other items that I need to give to that person.  It will make my life easier.

Planning ahead and being prepared is a necessary exercise for a busy admin and this meeting especially proved that to me.  The meetings were stress free and I was able to depend on my checklists and templates.  Now I am on holidays and preparing for a big move to a new home.  You can be sure I have checklists for that as well.  Did I phone to get my electricity turned on?  Whew!  Yes, it is ticked off on the checklist and the lights did turn on when I pressed the switch.

Have a great summer everyone and enjoy your holidays when they come.  Having down time is a needed time to recharge your batteries and change the pace from work.  My boss finds chopping wood relaxing.  I mentioned to him that that didn't seem relaxing to me, but he said it was something he could do that he didn't have to think about, just chop, chop, chop.  His job is all about thinking and strategizing so a task that is not related to work, seems like time out because it is not what he normally does week to week.  My idea of relaxing is reading a book on my new deck so I will leave the chopping to those better qualified than me :)

2 July 2010

We don't know what we don't know

We really don't know what we don't know do we?  One person can be great at software programs and know all sorts of tricks to get things done quickly and another might be excellent at organizing and managing their email account.

I have always been a believer in sharing ideas and have received my best education from other assistants.  Our strength is what we know collectively and we should have some way to share our knowledge with each other. 

Here are some ways I have found can help:
  • The web is a wonderful tool for sharing.  I have been on some interactive sites where assistants ask questions and get answers and I learn from them as I have some of the same questions.  Sometimes I even have the answers and by helping someone else it reinforces what I know.  The web also has anonymity and sometimes people receive information better from people they don't know. 
  • Lunch n learns are also a good way to learn from each other.  If you are the presenter you have to study and know your subject well which helps you to be more confident in what you know and you also gain experience in making presentations which can help you in your career.
  • If you are part of an administrative team you can use your meetings to share knowledge with each other or give tips on something new you have discovered.
  • Administrative newsletters or bulletin boards where you can post tips or suggestions is a good way to learn.
This blog is one of the ways that I share my experience with people all over the world and I love when I get feedback that something I have shared has helped someone (or in some cases to be corrected on what I have written), but the main thing is to open the door and communicate knowledge to others.

A roadblock often is we don't share because we don't know what we are doing is special, we just know it works for us. Try sharing your ideas and learning from the experiences of others.  Dofasco Steel has long used the phrase "Our strength is in our people" and how true that is.  Try starting your own information sharing at work.  You will be surprised at how much you learn when you work together and exchange knowledge with one another.