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 Does An Admin Do, Anyway?"- A Perspective

“What Does An Admin Do, Anyway?”

Sends chills to the bone, doesn’t it? Or, does it agitate and irritate you to no end? Ever had someone actually say those words to you? I have. And the trick is.. don’t take it personally!

This is your one glorious shot at raising the elevation of the profession. Though one’s initial instinct may be to blurt out.. ” Are you *&%$#$^& kidding me?” Don’t succumb. Take a deep breath and prepare your pitch.

I had to get perspective the other day…. for many reasons. My work environment has been in a real state of flux since last December, and it has culminated in the decision of our company to seriously consider relocation to a distance past commuting. I decided to write down all the things I had done as an admin that no one would put under our typical job description. So I’ll share a few with you.

1. Helped plan and staff a reception at the United States Capitol Building – that included attendance of senators, representatives, their staff and some heads of federal government agencies. I had the opportunity to meet and chat with a female space shuttle commander!

2. Traveled to Las Vegas- for a board meeting and gala. Had the opportunity to eat a dessert made by a Food Network Chef! Met the CEO of a major hotel chain and found a starbucks that closes at 2pm in the afternoon. (What’s up with that?) With the same company, I traveled to Seattle to support a conference and board meeting, visited the Space Needle and attended a party hosted at the Museum of Flight.

3. Met the President and First Lady of the United States of America at a conference hosted by The Johns Hopkins University and The Johns Hopkins Medical Center

4. Been stranded outside my office building (one block from the White House) because someone very important ( I don’t know who it was) was in my office building and there was a SWAT type team and all kinds of security that had the building locked down. The stern police officer told me to come back in 20 minutes.. go for a walk. Luckily I had my cellphone with me and called my boss to tell him WHY I hadn’t returned from lunch. And, luckily, his office has a window facing the street, so he knew there were about six different police forces surrounding our building.

5. Coordinating a ceremony for lawyers to be admitted to the United States Supreme Court. Talk about making sure to have all the details covered. This is definitely one for the books. It will happen this Fall.. and I will have the opportunity of a lifetime to be in court during this event. I may even get to meet a Supreme Court Justice or two.

and many more…

But honestly, I have my “elevator” speech or pitch prepared so that when this question comes my way– I am ready. Here’s my response.

“My job as the assistant is to make sure I get my boss or bosses, where they need to be, when they need to be there, with the materials they need to have and the background on who they are meeting with.. taking care of all the small details that will free them up to earn and win more business for our company. This includes anything from scheduling appointments, travel, background research, stock updates and relaying any time or industry sensitive information immediately, all under the umbrella of complete trust and discretion.”

How’s that?