Let’s Do This!

Check out these sites for additional info for Administrative Professionals Week

Int’l Association for Administrative Professionals
Office Dynamics International
Executive Secretary (There is a complete admin Association list on its site.)
European Management Assistants
American Society of Administrative Professionals
All Things Admin
Audacious Admin
Office Professionals of South Africa
and so many more…..


The Challenge of Trust

Good morning from a chilly Virginia suburb.

I’ve had much to ponder about the issue of trust the last few months and I believe I’m not the only one.

There are many aspects to building trust, earning trust and keeping trust. How to be someone that has the trust of many. What does it mean?

For me, trust is about consistency.  Companies and colleagues earn my trust (and respect, but that’s another blog post) when they are consistent in the delivery of product, in the keeping of their word, in the transparency of their motive(s) and most importantly, in the acknowledgement of exactly where they are. Are they struggling? Are they tired? Are they distracted? Is a challenge keeping them from being focused?  Is their ego keeping them from acknowledging and accepting the mistakes made? Do they acknowledge your contribution? Does that colleague thank you? Do they share your success with their team? Is the trust mutual? Can they keep business and personal confidences?Are they soaring with success?

There are businesses that reach out to me to speak, write and consult for them– but it’s all Take! Take! Take!. Rarely have I seen a reciprocal offer. Sue France recently wrote (I think on the Executive Secretary Facebook page) about companies or organizations that ask her to travel and train for little or no fee. I know this is constant request for many trainers and speakers.

My concern is more about how organizations continually drain trust from a constant state of ‘what can you do to help me/us’ as opposed to ‘Hey, how are you doing?’. Or, What could we do together that would benefit both of us? Or, I really like the effort you’re making on behalf of (some organization name here), how can I support that? And in doing so, support you?

Trust also comes from a point of intent. What is the intent of the interaction? Are you trying to get something, sell something, buy something? Or, more importantly, are you trying to establish a working relationship, a collaboration? (Ted Rubin’s #RonR – all about relationship building.  Check out more about Ted.). Can you operate in an arena where you are confident in your skills, your level of professionalism, and in what you offer to the universe in such a way that you can rise above the insidious fear of losing, not being enough, not having something worth contributing?

Over the last few months, I’ve begun calling out people and organizations I support when trust has been diminished or lost. And, I’ve done so privately. I’ve explained how they lost my trust and why I chose to limit my engagement with them socially and/or professionally. Or, if it on tenuous ground at least explain where I stand and what it would take to earn back my trust. I also have to be mature enough to take the feedback of any reciprocal insights on the relationship which is sometimes much easier said than done.

Ponder this. Are you contributing to an organization? Your family? To your best friend’s efforts to change career? Is there mutual trust that the support is genuine? Are the actions you take consistent with an intention of keeping that person’s trust? Do the actions you take fit your personal moral and ethical values? How about theirs? Are you consistent in your behavior? Period.

It takes courage to address trust issues before they become brutal, simmering resentments and passive-aggressive interactions. It’s a challenge worthy of trust.







How to Not Get Depressed During a Job Search

h/t @ChantalBechervaise What a fantastic look at the challenges of the job search!

Take It Personel-ly

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”   Winston Churchill

How to Not Get Depressed During a Job Search

One of the most disheartening and unpleasant experiences in life is looking for a new job, whether it’s after being fired from your old job or after you’ve just finished your education. In both cases, you have to be prepared to have many doors slammed in front of your face and many of your job applications swept under the rug. However, that’s not an issue. The real issue is how it affects us and our self-esteem, after being rejected so many times.

Having found myself in a situation like this, I kept trying, and then, instead of maintaining or doubling my attempts to find a job, as common sense would dictate, I did the exact opposite. My efforts dwindled, I became more nervous, I couldn’t sleep well, I overate, and my self-esteem was at an all-time…

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Issuing the Clarion Call – The Administrative Field Has a Challenge To Face

Where does the career field go from here?

I’m airing dirty laundry.. the mostly unspoken and unwritten challenges faced by the administrative profession. I’m bringing up the uncomfortable stuff,  the elephant under the rug-stuff.

The State of the Administrative Profession.

Early in my career, I was hardly aware there were  any administrative organizations, I then recognized one or two of them because I was heavily involved with the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and my then employer would only pay for Fred Pryor Seminars.  Fast-forward these twenty years plus, and now there are individual trainers, teams of trainers, a multitude of professional organizations for administrative professionals plus the numerous conferences and publications available across the globe. It’s very exciting.

From the trainer’s perspective though, the changes in our career field are a bit more obvious. The administrative professionals that invest in professional development and continue to learn whether or not their employee emotionally or financially supports them are separating out from the rest of the crowd. Lucy Brazier, President and CEO, Marcham Publishing and Editor for Executive Secretary magazine, shared a stage with me last week at the 2nd Annual Symposium for Administrative Professionals at Delaware State University. Lucy noted the full-circle journey of the administrative support role— and how currently, she is seeing more and more businesses farm out clerical, basic administrative tasks to a pool (How quaint!?) of administrative professionals. The more career- invested, professional advanced administrative professionals are challenged with more managerial, budgetary and project driven responsibilities. The gap between the two segments has never been wider. I believe it may continue to grow.

These changes bring to mind a myriad of questions

  1. How does the profession continue to define itself for human resource and recruiting professionals?
  2. How do the leaders in our field present this career choice to students in the 14-18 year-olds, to whom our field is best represented by a character on a Netflix show or other visual media channel.
  3. How do the professional organizations representing our field see their role in this issue? Will they ever be able to work for the common cause of promoting the profession together instead of competing for members?
  4. Will the change in educational learning as it moves to more digital and less face-to-face learning, further erode the image of the profession because soft-skills (customer service, teamwork, manners, and protocols) can only be learned properly with face-to-face mentoring or on-the-job experience?
  5. What will the recruiters and human resource professionals do to fill the vacancies left as a large percentage of experienced and elite administrative professionals continue retire?  Will they even fill the job or will those positions be eliminated?
  6. How will we ever build consensus and a brilliant enough representation of our career field so that being and administrative professional is truly recognized as a career choice, as a legitimate career.

I feel these are the questions that all organizations, trainers, educational workforce programs representing the membership of the administrative profession need to face and address.  And, they need to do it through collaboration.  Energy invested in competing for members does not serve our field.  The energy invested needs to be in :

  1. Building the pipeline of competent young professionals that understand the value of our field.
  2. Establishing a long-term public relations campaign to highlight the value competent administrative professionals bring to businesses.
  3. Establish academic and data-driven research to support #2. We MUST have the data to support us –because businesses, boards and deans want research data. Prove it, we must. (Imagine Yoda as an admin!)
  4. Bringing administrative professional organizations together to agree upon the skills, titles and testing for the administrative career ladder.
  5. Establish business communications with the staff of the Bureau of Labor and Statistics in the United States – to bring the Occupational Outlook and titles up-to-date.

Mind you, I only have my perspective and it’s limited to the rather large network to which I’m connected. But I think you, my peers, will agree that time is of the essence. The sooner we work together as a field to promote our profession, the less its importance will erode within the eyes of the business and human resource communities.

As always, I appreciate the thoughtful feedback. ~ K

By the way– I’m still a member of IAAP and ASAP. I’m an instructor in  workforce development focusing on the administrative profession. I have a paid subscription to Executive Secretary, and I’ve also written for several of these organizations.

Insights from the Receptionist Desk – Part 1: Communicating by Telephone

I’ve been in the admin field for a long, long time. I’ve been at my current desk for the past six years. What I’m about to tell you is no big surprise to anyone– People do not know how to communicate by telephone.

I don’t know if phone communication challenges are driven by so many people communicating via text now, or if people calling an organization are so used to NOT having a human being answer the phone — let me just say, it’s pretty disheartening.

Rather than document the myriad of astonishing calls I’ve answered, deciphered or directed, I think I’ll just share a few suggestions for getting assistance quickly when calling into a business. These suggestions are based on many years of phone answering experience.

1. Do some research to confirm that you have the correct phone number and the correct company. If you’re not sure the number is correct, it is perfectly acceptable to say to the receptionist, “I’m not certain I have the correct number, but perhaps you can help me.”

2. Always say Hello or Good morning/Good afternoon. Then follow the next three (3) steps.

  • Give your name- full name and company if you’re calling on behalf of your company. (My name is Jeff Carambe from ABECED.)
  • Ask for the person you are trying to reach (May I speak with John Lemon, please?) Or, if  you are not sure which person you need to speak with at the company,
  • Explain quickly (and we’ll cover this later) why you are calling this company– What’s your purpose? (I’d like to speak with Mr. Lemon regarding his May congressional testimony.)

This makes it very easy to provide the caller with assistance.  Any competent receptionist is going to be so grateful that you –> YOU know how to communicate when calling into a company!

At this point, the receptionist will connect you through to the line of the person you are calling. Now, suppose you immediately get voicemail Do the right thing!  Leave the same information plus your contact phone number or email on their voicemail. REPEAT your phone number twice so they don’t have to replay the message. Follow the prompt on the voicemail! Meaning if you want to speak with someone on staff, zero out to the receptionist and ask him/her if there is anyone else on staff that might be able to address Jeff Lemon’s testimony on the Hill.  Lastly, if you are on a deadline– leave that information on the message as well as letting the receptionist know.

Other suggestions

1. Don’t belittle or insult the receptionist.Being rude is rude and will not make things move faster or better, or more to your liking.
2 Don’t call from your subway ride, the library, your first-graders playground. Make the call when it is quiet and you can focus. So if you are calling while working from home, you might just want to put Fido in another room for a few minutes until you complete your call. I know you can’t always do this–but try.
3. Don’t ask the receptionist to page a staff member unless it truly is urgent.Like crazy urgent.
4. Don’t ask the receptionist for his/her opinion on an issue you are having w/a staff member, the company website, the policies of the organization or how they like the job. It’s not the receptionist’s role to speak on behalf of the organization that responsibility belongs to the Public Relations team.
5. Never hurts to say –Thank you for your assistance. Never.
6. Remember that some worker bees prefer to chunk block their calls which is why it is always a good idea to leave your contact information. This allows the staff member to return your call when they can respond uninterrupted, and you are respecting their preferred work method without even realizing it!
7. If you are nervous or it’s a complicated issue, SCRIPT your question beforehand. I used to think this advice was complete rubbish. Now I understand and respect how having your thoughts written out ahead truly smooths the way!
8. If you have left a staff member a message but have not had a return call after twenty-four hours, you’ve got a few options to get to a resolution. A)You can email the staff member and use the subject line – Please respond to my inquiry about (Fill in the Blank). B)Call the main number and ask the receptionist if that staff member is out on extended leave or ask for the contact information for another team member in the same department. C) As a last resort, request the supervisor’s contact information to nudge the resolution along.

Not all organizations believe in having a human being answer the main company phone line, but I certainly know that navigating an auto-attendant system can sometimes be more frustrating than having a call transferred several times within a company.

–> Next blog: Insights from the Receptionist Desk Part 2: Communication Challenges – Auto-Attendant Systems and Awful Receptionists

A Salute to My Peers- Administrative Professionals Week 2015

Thank you to my peers that push me, cheer me, try my patience. Thank you for my mentors that pushed me to attain my Certified Administrative Professional certification. Thank you to the hundreds of peers that have reached out over discussion groups and social media to provide quick insight and assistance when I needed it. We’re all in this together to not only earn a living but to help the companies we support thrive.

Here’s a salute from me to you– the vital and amazing administrative professionals in the United States, and to the millions of our peers across the globe.