Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Extenders:The new term for the gatekeepers of the office

I recently had the pleasure of serving as one of the MCs at the latest Q1 Productions Executive Leadership Support Forum at the Hotel Chicago. During a panel discussion with an executive and his assistant, he mentioned that assistants extend themselves in many ways. For example, helping clients and customers by either providing a service directly or finding someone who can if it not within their power to help. This was a profound concept because for many years, administrative professionals have been regarded as the 'gatekeepers' of the office, implying that no one gets past them without proper clearance. With this new idea, everyone is given considerable attention until the task, inquiry, or problem is resolved.

Today, with the evolution of the administrative assistant due to the expansion of roles and job responsibilities, the term extender will do quite nicely. So, what exactly does an extender do differently from the gatekeeper?

  • Extending skills. Performing job tasks that are not in your current job description.
  • Extending knowledge base. Using internal and external resources to find solutions. 
  • Extending a hand. Helping a colleague accomplish a goal and complete a task. 
Many of you have already been acting as extenders and didn't realize it. Being an Extender means making connections inside and ouside the organization; to eliminate confusion, the Extender still has the subtitle of gatekeeper. Performing additional job duties are valuable points to bring up during the performance review. Adding someone to your extended network will pave the way for forging strong alliances. Lending a hand to a colleague will bridge workplace relationships that increase the productivity of the company. 

Extenders, as well as gatekeepers, are valuable company assets. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The evolution of today's administrative professional

The evolution of the administrative professional is a development process that not only provides growth for the individual, but also for the industry.  By 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for administrative assistants will increase by 8 percent. In addition to a growing population of office personnel, job duties and responsibilities will also escalate, which will require more skills, experience, and education. Who would have thought that a job created over six decades ago to support male executives by answering phones, transcribing correspondence, greeting visitors, and of course, performing other duties as assigned would have the potential to grow into a managerial position?

The evolution involves a quick progression that simultaneously evolves with technology.  The more technology improves efficiency, the more productive we are expected to be which means additional responsibilities.  Today’s administrative professional has morphed into a diverse office employee who wears many hats, essentially running the office. In a recent article by The Atlantic, a successful Chicago office manager, Debra Leonard-Porch talks about her professional journey being a part of the evolution. Beginning her career as a receptionist, then to secretary, next as an executive assistant, and now office manager, her 35-year experience has added to the historical timeline of growth for today’s administrative professional. And since secretarial functions have become more administrative, the overall duties are to maintain the office and supervise activities.

The future is very bright for today’s administrative professional. There is a clear indication that this profession will continue to evolve in all industries and develop the people on its career path.
For more information about the career, certifications, and networking with others in the field, visit these professional development websites:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What day is it again? Oh yea, Administrative Professionals Day

If you walked around your office today and asked, “What day is it?” The response would undoubtedly be, “It’s Wednesday.” And that is correct, but many may have forgotten that today is also Administrative Professionals’ Day. All those except administrative professionals, of course. We know it as a day to celebrate those who make an impact by assuming managerial-like responsibilities in a work environment that nowadays, require more than just a typing skill and pleasant phone etiquette. Today is a day of recognition, did you get recognized? Some will say, “Yes, there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers sitting on my desk this morning.” “My boss took me to lunch today.”

The true admin celebrates their career every day, not just on April 22 or during the week of, but each and every day. Here 3 ways to have your own daily celebration:

1. Keep track of small victories as well as the big ones. A small victory is something that makes you feel good afterwards. For example, how many times have you caught a mistake before anyone else, especially the boss? How about the time you almost forgot to send the email without an attachment? These are worth celebrating because, although small in nature, you saved yourself and possibility the company public embarrassment. Good job!

2.     2. Reward yourself after completing a task before moving on to the next. I like this one because I am rewarding myself throughout the day. Rewards include: taking a 10-minute stretch break after sitting for hours, which studies show is not healthy by the way; have a piece of chocolate (my favorite), and a good ol’ fashioned internal pep talk “You did a great job!” Which leads to the next point...

3. Give yourself a self-PEP talk. How often do you have an internal conversation with yourself? I call it a “meeting of the mind.” Self-PEP talk builds confidence, rationalizes situations, and are critical. When I “meet with my mind,” I mentally replay the previous situation, think about why the outcome occurred, and how to react if it occurs again. My “meetings” always end on a positive note-ALWAYS! The more meetings you have, the more you are recording notes so that if and when similar situations arise (and they will) you will be ready because you have already analyzed, evaluated, and motivated yourself to be prepared. Now, that's worth celebrating. Time for a reward…

Today, may have been a day specifically designated for celebrating the efforts of those who lighten the burdens of others, but why not continue the celebration tomorrow and the next day, and the next day…

Have a happy administrative professionals day – everyday! 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Lack of emotional intelligence brings out the worst version of you

Jenny enjoyed her job, but didn't like the people. Her tolerance had grown thin and she was ready to quit. The interactions with her boss were the most challenging because she felt the meetings were counterproductive due to differences of views. Jenny left meetings feeling frustration, anxiety, and anger.

Jenny suffered from a low level of emotional intelligence and needed to do something to save her job and reputation before her emotions brought out the worst version of herself.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.


Join me on Wednesday, January 7 at 1 p.m. CST via webinar to find out how Jenny was able to increase her emotional intelligence and subdue her bad side.


#iaap #increaseEI

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An exerpt from 365 Ways to Better Days....Day 134: Maximize your "hump hour"

It just so happens that in my book, 365 Ways to Better Days, today is Day 134 which is Wednesday, also known as 'hump day.' This tip is taken from the book, which talks about how to manage your 'hump hour.'

Day 134 Maximize your 'hump hour.'
‘Hump Day’ Wednesday is the day of the week which represents halfway completion of the work week. By Wednesday, we have recovered from the past weekend, become more energized and anticipating the upcoming weekend. ‘Hump hour’ is the time of day when you are most productive and focused. It could be after you have a cup of coffee before lunch. You may have focal points that occur several times throughout the day. Here are a few ways to be productive when your ‘hump hour’ arrives. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The True Meaning of an Administrative Professional

This is the week for celebrating Administrative Professionals all over the world. Administrative Professionals Day began as Secretaries Day in 1952, a day proclaimed by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Charles Sawyer. Secretaries Day was an idea by C. King Woodbridge, president of Dictaphone Corporation, a member of a council that addressed the shortage of skilled office workers. The objective was to recognize "the secretary, upon whose skills, loyalty, and efficiency the functions of business and government offices depend," and to call attention "through favorable publicity, to the tremendous potential of the secretarial career." Boy, have secretaries come a long way.
Administrative Professionals do more than answer phones, greet customers, and transcribe meeting minutes. They serve as office managers, event planners, accounts payable clerks, and the list goes on. As you celebrate this week, think about the impact you make in your office.
  • Do clients and customers call and ask for you versus your supervisor?
  • Do you "work" on days off?
  • Are you accessible when you are away from the office via email, cell, text messaging?
  • Do you remind your supervisor of work that he needs to complete?
Did you answer 'yes' to any of the above? Congratulations! You are a company asset. Administrative Professionals are 'assets,' because without them, who would businesses depend on? By the way, if they weren't valuable, why is there a holiday recognizing their profession? In honor of the people who made this special occasion possible, give yourself a 'pat on the back.' You deserve it.



Friday, March 28, 2014

From New E-book, Working with Children of All Ages - Workplace Cliques

Thinking Inside the Sandbox
(An excerpt taken from my latest e-book, Working with Children of All Ages)

By the time we reach high school, there are some major changes happening. If puberty hasn't hit you by now, it will soon. Second, as official "teenage children", we are seeking those friendships that will later on end up defining who we are and how we behave. High school years are exciting and can be critical.

Remember what it was like when you met the person who would end up being a good friend even after high school? Now begins the formation of your "circle of friends" or what some may call a "clique." Cliques help mold us into the people we are today. It is human nature to want to belong, it’s a survival technique amongst animals, and gives us a sense of empowerment.  When we are around people who we feel are like us, can relate to use, and make us feel good about ourselves, it's like having your own paparazzi. Stereotypical cliques in high school were: the "smart ones" (they are called other names, for respect, we won't speak ill of the highly, intellectual crowd),  the popular girls and guys, jocks, cheerleaders, and the loners. The list goes on. The reality is that they grow up, get jobs, have families, and end up working with us.

It is not a far-fetched idea to relate high school to the workplace. They’re the same children, but in adult form.  Studies show that 43% of workers say that there are cliques in their office. Doesn't it feel like high school? The same group of people going out to eat lunch every day; the same people are standing by the water cooler talking about another co-workers outfit. Sounds like high school.

My mother would always tell me, "If it grow up in you, it's going to be in you," Old habits die hard. So why be surprised that your boss is acting like a jerk? Why wonder how could your co-worker spread gossip about others? Childlike behavior still lives in us, it's just hiding behind the adult. Doesn't Walt Disney base his success on the premise that there is a kid in all of us?

So, for the purpose of being having to work with the bullies, backstabbers, liars, "personal politicians," temper tantrum and other childlike behavior exhibitors, let's start thinking that the workplace is the "sandbox."  Phase 1. Thinking Inside the Sandbox is complete.

Now that we have changed our thinking, it's time to talk about how to deal with the little kiddies in the sandbox. Phase 2. Learn How to Play 

To be continued...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Value in Taking a Break – You Do Have Time for That!

Get up at 5 a.m., take a shower, find something to wear, cook breakfast, wake the kids up, prepare their lunch, see them out the door, find your car keys, get to work…and that’s just the first 4 hours of the day. What are you going to be doing for the remaining 20 hours? Thank goodness breathing comes naturally, because if we had to think about it, we probably wouldn’t have the time to devote to yet another task. Perhaps you have heard the now famous cliché, I ain’t got time fo’ that!’ by Sweet Brown who was victim to a fire in her apartment complex?

The key is that we make time for things we want to make time for. I’ll bet during the workday you had time to surf the Internet, pay a bill online, or maybe even check your Facebook account to see what is today’s hot topic? Even though you had a project due at the end of the day. Well, I ‘m asking you to make time for one more thing – a pause. It’s important, and I can’t stress enough (unless you like stress), to take a breather, break, timeout, or just pause – call it a Self-Induced Intermission (SII pronounced 'Sigh'). You are voluntarily stopping and letting your mind catch up. This is the point of refocus.

Here are examples of Self-Induced Intermissions that you can do throughout the day:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Best Resignation Ever

We are on the brink of another year when you are going to have to make serious, yet life-changing decisions- perhaps finding a new job. Recently, a client advised me of her decision to quit her job. She had been unhappy for a couple years and after a few sessions of confidence boosting, self-evaluation, and weighing outcomes, she decided it was time for her to seek employment elsewhere.
Lauren (name has been changed to preserve confidentiality) worked for 7 years as an administrative assistant for a medium-sized company in manufacturing. She was unhappy because, over the years she had witnessed the following:

·       Favoritism/Undeserved promotions
·       Nepotism
·       Poor decision making
·       Poor interpersonal behavior from leaders unaddressed by upper management
·       Limited to no communication from upper management

And the list goes on.  When she made the decision to leave, I was concerned about how she was going to end her tenure with the company – on a positive or negative note.  Rule #1: You never want to focus on the negative, always focus on the positive from your perspective not the company’s; this is really about you, not them. After brainstorming ideas regarding her behavior and attitude from now until she leaves, the following exit interview speech was devised:

It is with sincere regret that I must submit my resignation, effective two weeks from today. I am grateful for the opportunity to work for (name of company/supervisor); however, I feel that it is time for me to seek a different career path.  

I am fortunate to have learned so much during my time here and will confidently use those skills to my success.

Thank you for giving me the confidence I need to pursue my chosen path. Best of luck!

This brief speech does not say anything about the poor management decisions, behavior, or suggests any disgust as to why Lauren is leaving. It is always best to leave on a positive note by not pointing fingers or bashing anyone in particular (even though you may really, really want to and they may really, really deserve it). Rule #2: The key word is REFRAIN. Other important tips to remember when resigning are:

·       Leave with dignity. Tactfully say, ‘goodbye’ to your colleagues and leave out the door with your head held high. You are making a decision that you feel is for your own good, so act and look like it.

·       Give proper notice. This is a simple but often forgotten courtesy. We get so fed up with a job and immediately want to throw in the towel right then and there. Rule #3: Our reputation precedes us. Review your company’s policies on voluntary resignation, if two weeks’ notice is documented, you are obligated to give 2-weeks’ notice. So what you’re leaving, no sense in breaking rules now. This is the worst time to break rules, remember Rule #3.

·       Stay professional and productive. Just because you decide to leave, does not mean you should change your attitude. In fact, take it up a notch and go the extra mile on a project or prepare notes for your successor. Nothing looks better than a team player who’s leaving, and is still playing the game, giving 110%, until the game ends.

Company’s hate to see employees leave because it costs time and money to find replacements; however, sometimes there is no choice, especially when the employee has detached themselves. As administrative professionals, it is our job to remain professional; otherwise, we would be called ‘administrative un-professionals.’ Rules #1, #2, and #3.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Abnormal Behavior Works in the Workplace

Will a normal person please stand up? I asked this question during a presentation once in a crowded room of 125 attendees and everyone stood up. I was not surprised. We all think we are ‘normal.’ But what does ‘normal’ really mean? The Webster Dictionary defines normal as average, a typical state or condition; the usual. Would you like to rethink your answer now? Think about the context which ‘normal’ is used. Yes, we want a normal heart rate. Of course, we want a normal weight; but do you really want to behave as an average or usual person?

I was watching a scene on a television show of two co-workers having a private chat that turned into a heated conversation. They were friends as well as colleagues; one of them noticed that the other had become distant and less conversational and decided to confront him about his behavior. She started by saying, “I’m worried about you.”

“Why are you worried? I come to work, do my job, and go home. I give appropriate emotional responses and take social cues from behavior. I am being normal. Why are you worried?” Replied the slightly agitated co-worker.

I was halted by the idea that her co-worker thought that he was being ‘normal’ by performing those specific tasks. Here’s a question: Do you give appropriate emotional responses and take social cues from behavior? Be honest. These will help… 

When was the last time you overreacted to a situation at work that almost cost you your job, or at least a reprimand?

How did you react during your last performance review when your supervisor told you the areas you needed improvement in?

What did you do when your supervisor showed disapproval or yelled at you in front of other employees? 

Get the idea? Were you being ‘normal’ in any of those situations according to the agitated co-worker? In today’s society, it is not normal to give appropriate emotional responses and take social cues from behavior because so few people know how to do it! It’s actually abnormal.  It’s irregular, odd, and even strange. In fact, people view negative behavior as the norm. Is that a shocker? Why else is there so much poor leadership and these people still have jobs? Maybe that’s why the co-worker was worried, because he wasn't acting normal? Hmm….

It’s time to start behaving abnormally. Don’t live up to people’s expectations – be irregular! Here’s how: