Get A Grip– On the Tools You’re Utilizing – a Nod to Brian Fanzo

I’ve been trying to catch up on some learning time this weekend. Mostly watching and listening to replays from some of the social leaders I follow.  Tonight, I just happened upon a rant-ish type post from @iSocialFanz aka Brian Fanzo https://youtu.be/83ySoC1MCLM addressing many issues as they relate to social media tools and best practices.  What I admire about Brian is his ability to articulate his passion for what he does in a very human and very genuine way.

But one piece of the replay caught my attention because it also applies to the administrative workplace.  Know the tools you are using. Understand their context. Mistakes happen, but they cannot all be blamed on the tools we utilize because to paraphrase Brian– the end-user is responsible for the implementation of that tool. It’s also a reminder to be deliberate as we learn. Sometimes I rush to add another social application to my phone without a)needing it  b)understanding its true function c)taking the time to learn the shortcuts and features thoroughly.

Admins use many tools to get work done, to communicate updates, to save time for their team. I’ve come to recognize (and somewhat accept) that due to the velocity of our changing field, I may have started to become a user of many tools- but master of none. Furthermore, it provoked me to think about doing some MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) testing. How else can I demonstrate that I have a comprehension of the main tool I utilize on a daily basis.

Think about it–

As an example, many of us utilize Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, but are you fluent, do you have a deep bench of skills or just enough to get by? Good stuff to ponder.

AdminRenegade Turns 9!

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Happy Birthday to AdminRenegade.  I started my blog (originally called SuperPPN -as in Super Paid, Professional, Nudge) in April 2006.

I can’t believe how many years I’ve been doing this!

It’s been amazing to connect with professional peers all over the globe and to learn SO much from other bloggers.  So here’s a peek back to the very first post– inspired by my first-time attendance at an Administrative Professionals Week event here in DC.  Boy! Time flies.

Enjoy!

Administrative Professionals Week 2006

Day 10 Why Customer Service? Countdown to Executive Secretary Live 2015

Every friend of mine has a story (or a dozen) about crappy customer service. Have you ever noticed that when the level of customer service goes above and beyond, it is news-worthy?!

You can find administrative courses on any Office product, setting up travel arrangements, creating team building projects but I’d never seen a course on customer service for administrative professionals. I’m not just referring to call center staff– they are in a very tough class of their very own. I’m talking about what are the keys to defining superb customer service from an administrative professional?

I’ll fill you in on the back story to what prompted me to develop this session when we meet on Day 2 of Executive Secretary Live. In the meantime, I hope you’ll think about how YOU define great customer service. What does it look like, to you?   

Here’s a suggested text to consider written by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval. The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness (2006). [It is one of my go-to books and I believe it’s available for Kindle and Nook.]

Days 15/14 –Countdown to Executive Secretary LIVE 2015- London

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Yep. That’s me at the Executive Secretary LIVE conference in 2013.

Fast forward to March 5, 2015 and I’m prepping to return to London for this year’s conference.

I wanted to blog about the preparation to go, my thoughts about presenting and also to encourage others to pursue the things that fill them with joy.

When I attended in 2013, I was not sure what to expect. I have known Julie Perrine for some time and knew she was presenting. I had read Sue France and Bonnie Low-Kramen’s books and couldn’t wait to greet these two thought leaders.  I had been in correspondence with Susie Barron-Stubbley and Doug Dickerson through LinkedIn.

I also had some preconceived notions of what I thought London would be like and what the conference itself would be like.  Ha!  Remember that  old adage about ‘making assumptions’?  Let’s just say I was pleasantly disrupted from those perceptions.

First, I thought Washington, D.C. traffic was challenging.. until London. I am proud to say I was not impatient nor rude to the gentleman driving our transport unlike a few of the others on board. And, I learned that if I had taken the subway (or as you guys call it, the Tube) my transport might have taken less time. When I finally arrived at my hotel room, the view was

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I had the most amazing time during my short visit. I met so many delegates/PAs from all over the world and made great friendships with PAs from Italy and Turkey, which I still celebrate today.  And one of the craziest moments was being seated next to a delegate from Pennsylvania– this was her first PA/EA conference- EVER?! We’ve also kept in touch some.

The sessions were fantastic. The social events were impressive. I must admit to feeling a bit intimidated and overwhelmed by the collective brilliance of the presenters, but in a good way. I became very quiet. For those of  you who know me, it’s hard to imagine that happening, but it did. It gave me the opportunity to just soak in the experience,to live in the moment (as Sue France strongly encouraged me to do).

So, as I prepare to return to #ExecSecLIVE, I’m remembering the joy of those few days spent with peers that inspired and motivated me to keep listening to my instinct, to continue to pursue training and speaking opportunities, to share from my experience, strength and hope as an administrative professional.

Off to grab a cup of coffee as I’m working from home today. It’s snowing–which DC has not had much of this year, but our northern states certainly have had too much of it to shovel. I raise my mug to Lucy, Matthew, Rachael, Christian and all the team members and delegates preparing for the conference.

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3 Words to Slay the Office Phisher

It takes a person of strong character to be the front line of defense.

At least a three dozen times in my career I’ve had to politely change the direction of a conversation. Or, not so politely but definitely directly.

Here are some prime examples:

Sabotaging Peers

“I need to see the (other) department’s projections so I can adjust my numbers”

“Did you ever have an issue with so-and –so? I had no idea there was an issue.

When a management team member is offsite for private meetings

“Do you know who they’re meeting with?”

“Do you know what meeting they’re at?”

When personnel changes start at the top

“What’s going on?”

“Are we being bought out?”

“Are other people leaving?”

“Do you know if they’ve hired the new (fill in position name here)?”

People can be downright sneaky and manipulative trying to get information from assistants under the guise of helping or speeding up the process. Sometimes it is just someone making ‘small talk’.

Usually these false entreaties are reflective of fear or lack of control over a perceived situation. The person or persons may think, sometimes incorrectly, that the assistant is in the know.

Slay the Office Phisher with these words

“I don’t know.”

Say it pleasantly. Say it with a smile. Be calm in your tone. Sometimes we have to repeat frequently. Stating it patiently over and over.  Other assistants I’ve known will use, “Let me get back to you” but then somehow forget to do so.

At a previous job I had a mid-level manager hassle me for a solid fifteen minutes. I finally put my hand up and said, “You know I’m not at liberty to comment on any of your questions, so please stop.”  The phisher was quite startled—enough so to mumble an apology and walk away.

Your reputation for being able to keep discreet information locked away is superbly valuable. It is important to employ these powerful words consistently and wisely

What If Your Personality Outshines Your Brand?

I have to admit I’m concerned.

Sure. I joke about my love of coffee. I profess my love of Dunkin’ Donuts. I’ve been known to buy other people’s coffee for them if they are willing to pick up one for me as well.  Is this a problem?  Not in the big picture. But it is troubling me a wee bit.

You see, I’m a full-time administrative professional at a trade association, and part-time instructor at our local community college. I lecture on social media, prepare boot camp sessions for  the Certified Administrative Professional exam, and travel a fair amount as an invited speaker for conferences for administrative professionals. Recently though, I noticed on my Twitter (@OfficeRenegade) feed and my Facebook page that more comments and shares were sent to me about coffee/my love thereof/ than about the topics and subjects I cover during presentations.  Funny? Sort of.

So I brought part of this on myself by posting and checking in on Twitter whenever I’m drinking coffee, where I’m drinking coffee, who I am drinking coffee with.. and frankly. No one gives a damn. Not unless there is some amazing executive at Dunkin’ brands that is in desperate search mode for a kick-ass, social savvy executive assistant. (DM me if you exist.)

Seriously, I love that my friends and colleagues poke at me about my caffeine problem..but what I really would love, is to set my personality on the back burner and let my determination to bring the importance of EA/AA work to the HR/Recruiting masses shine forth! And that means, re-focus.

It’s fun to have a personality quirk that everyone knows you for (See Ted Rubin and his thing for fantabulous and unique socks) but Ted is really known for his speaking and his message that relationships are the key to success. His hashtag is #RonR (Return on Relationship).

My hashtag is #KeepGrowingKeepLearning.  I do this each and everyday. And my goal is to encourage my peers to do the same.  And.. if they’re drinking coffee while they’re learning.. well.. more power to them!

Getting Feedback From Your Staff About New Employee Orientation

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Employee orientations are important to me. I’m not an HR professional. I don’t portray one on TV.

I am, however, a very observant administrative professional– often the person that new staff come to ask questions they don’t want to ask anyone else.

What do I do if I lose my security card?
The staff calendar says we have a half-day – what time is that?
How do I send a package?
Do we have a courier service?
Do I get reimbursed for my cellphone usage?
Am I really supposed to check my email over the holiday?

These are simple examples. But I was thinking about this today ..are there companies that do a survey of their employees to ask — What do you wish we had included in new employee orientation? What information do you think should be included in new employee orientation?

I’ve been at companies that had superb new employee orientations or ‘on-boarding’– an actual human being was assigned to be your go-to resource for your first 90 days. Saves a lot of hassle. And I think staff that offered to be an on-boarding resource were able to add that to their annual review as well as include that person in their 360 review at the end of the year.

I’ve also worked for a company that handed you a 3-ring binder – with tabs and was told to ‘read this, sign the last page and turn it in with your W-4.

I just have to think that building that working relationship would be so much easier/stronger/better — if the on-boarding process was evaluated annually– and adjustments were made as new staff provide feedback. Or, as current/veteran staff provided feedback on the type of questions they received frequently.

Just one of those random thoughts that popped into my head today.. and I’d love to get your thoughts on it.

Happy Weekend to all.