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Administrative Assistants Working on a Team – Ask an Admin

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Ask an Admin is a place where administrative assistants and executive assistants can get advice…from each other! This peer to peer interaction allows us to not only make the administrative profession stronger but it also gives us a great way to network and interact with one another.

This week Ms. G presents a tough scenario:

How do you deal with a write up in your performance evaluation that states:  Continue to work as a team player with Administrative Specialist staff to collectively resolve scheduling conflicts and achieve the common goal of more frequent communication to provide exemplary support to the office. 

***When your co-worker won’t talk to you to handle scheduling and you have addressed it several times over the years? She is the Senior Administrative Specialist in the office.

Ok, that’s a pretty tough one. How do you communicate with someone that is not being a team player and communicating back or effectively?


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7 thoughts on “Administrative Assistants Working on a Team – Ask an Admin”

  1. Kellie Edwards

    I recommend getting to the root of the problem and taking some time to identify what causes the Sr Admin to dismiss the meeting supper you need. Go into it assuming that there is a valid reason for her actions that you simply don’t understand yet. Maybe she is getting conflicting prioritization direction from her leader? Maybe she doesn’t have the full context she needs to pull your meeting needs into a higher priority for the other calendars? Maybe she’s not good at checking her emails? Clearly, in an ideal world, she should be communicating this to you upfront. But since she is not, take some time to talk to her in person and approach it in a way that has you asking her for help. “I am hoping you can help me with something? I’m having a hard time with meeting scheduling. Can we sit down together this week and I can show you what I mean?” After a few attempts, if there is still no progress, consider what other approaches to take that may spark progress. Such as holding an all-Admin meeting with all in your role and covering together “rules and expectations” of meeting needs and how to best support each other. At the meeting, have the group commit to minimum guidelines, such as “we will support each other with calendaring requests by providing upfront the following: context of the meeting objective, who the host is, and which attendees are required vs optional” and “we will respond in timely manner, ask questions if more context is needed in order to remove conflicting calendar appointments, and if a decline is the only option we will provide context why”.

    Good luck!!!!!

  2. I’m reading the initial responses and most of the guidance is “document, document, document”. I agree, however I’d like to add some deeper thought to it. Much of the tone feels as if documentation will cover you, or will provide the “gotcha” needed to show it is her not you who is a problem. Tone is really important in the workplace, and if you are approaching documentation with these feelings, they will definitely be felt by your co-worker and will not be helpful for the common goal of more frequent communiation.
    I would suggest taking a more positive, proactive approach while still documenting your interactions. For example, stop by her desk and see if she has time to look at calendars or has any ideas on a solution. Then when you return to your desk you can send a follow-up email and start with a positive comment to set the tone. An example would be: Mary, how nice to take a small moment out of our day to talk. Sometimes a brief break from my desk is sorely needed. Just confirming that you are looking at Brad’s calendar to see if we can make Friday work.
    Another example is in your follow-up emails, you can take project your feelings of teamwork above following-up. You can forward earlier emails and start with, “I just remembered we haven’t closed the loop on this, any thoughts?” Or, “I’m thinking this date/this time is going to be best and unless you disagree, I’ll send the invite out at end of day to give you time to respond. Thanks.”
    Setting the tone for building a relationship and being consistent in positive follow-ups will help you get through the frustration you are currently feeling, potentially break down any tension or barriers between you and those you need to work with, and if the documentation ultimately has to be shared with your manager to show your efforts – they will be an exemplary example of the positive spirit you brought to attempting to meet this goal.
    Good luck

  3. Stacey Roberts, CAP

    The general theme here is a good one, document your interaction with her that is preferably in writing (via emails) so that you can go to next year’s evaluation, or even a three month or mid-year discussion with your manager, and show that you are doing the best you can and have been running into road blocks. I would highly discourage you copying your manager on emails to the assistant. I’m sure your manager’s inbox is overflowing with emails and this could be seen as nothing more than you complaining; also, the other assistant will see your manager on the email and may retaliate against you for being a “tattle tale.” I would also agree that this is not a SMART goal. Perhaps you should sit down with your manager to create a more defined goal for you.

  4. Start emailing your Administrative Specialist on a regular basis to resolve schedule conflicts, address and respond to the emails in a polite, professional manner. This way, you ALWAYS have proof that you are taking initiative to improve the situation in an appropriate manner. This makes it to where there is no room for judgment on your part. If you speak with your Administrative Specialist verbally, you have no proof if you are ever questioned or if you receive another write up. It’s a matter of he said/she said type situation.

    One last thing, I have learned that a good boss will find something for you to improve on in your evaluation, whether you have been there a year or 30 years. If they gave you a perfect evaluation then there’s no room for improvement and we all know that there is some place where each of us can improve on. Don’t take it personally because if you do, it will affect your attitude at work and will show with the work you produce. I hope this helps.

  5. I think persistence and clear record keeping are the tools needed in a situation such as this. I would approach the individual via email or in person with the request and continue with follow ups to the matter at hand until a response was received. I would keep a detailed journal of the interactions/results noting the date of each. At performance evaluation time I would present the information to my supervisor with the journal which would establish my attempts/results and that I took this goal seriously on my part. You have no control over the other person therefore that should not be part of the evaluation rating – just that you did your part – consistently, persistently (with gentleness) and professionally.

  6. With regarding to Ms. G’s scenario. If you are trying to coordinate calendars with the Sr. Admin and she is not responsive, start CC’ing your manager on the emails and possibly her manager as well. That way they can see you are making the attempt to communicate with her to no avail.

  7. Document your attempts to communicate with her. for your next review, bring the documentation with you. It may need some direction from a higher position to get her to change.

    Can you schedule around her? Maybe she needs to left out of the loop. I know that I am really fed up with scheduling meetings and would welcome people being more involved in doing their own meeting schedules.

    Do you get together much outside of work? go for lunch, go for coffee? You could try building a relationship that way.

    As an aside, that is not a really good goal, as it is not SMART. what defines frequent conversation? It’s outcomes could be difficult to measure.

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