Administrative Professionals Not Getting Respect – Ask an Admin


Ask an admin is your place to ask your question and have other administrative professionals, from around the world, give you their advice based on their experiences.

This administrative professional, Seething in the South, asks us:

What do you do? How do you handle…..a Manager who doesn’t acknowledge or respect my contributions? This isn’t the first time I’ve been dissed.

Part of me says to put on your big girl pants and ignore it—AGAIN, and part of me says address it to clear the air, but then be labeled a typical, needy, overly-sensitive female (yes, he’s a known chauvinist).

This happened yesterday:

One of my responsibilities is coordinating all of our Company finances into a Quarterly Report with a lengthy CEO letter that all gets processed in In-Design. I’ve been doing it for many years.

I have been requested to cover for the CEO’s EA while on maternity leave. I needed to prepare the Board Presentation and communicate directly with our the EAs of our outside Board members. I was honored as it’s a highly-visible project and was up for the task. It also meant I needed to learn a completely new data-sharing software package. It’s a very busy time for me because the Quarterly Report gets processed at the same time but I knew I could do it and I did.

Long story, my Manager sent a thank you, great job, presentation was great, etc. and you all can take a day off an email to the entire team working on this, except for me. I found this out because a recipient of the email forwarded it to me. I’m upset because I went above and beyond to get this done and didn’t even get a thank you. No acknowledgment that it was a lot of extra work and learning outside of my normal. I could care less about the day off...but a little thanks goes a long way.


Oh my. What an interesting situation. Here we have an administrative professional that sounds like she did an amazing job covering and learning what was necessary but wasn’t thanked accordingly. So, how do we address this? Or do we because it’s expected that we have to go above and beyond in situations like this? What do you think this seething administrative professional should do?

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15 thoughts on “Administrative Professionals Not Getting Respect – Ask an Admin”

  1. Such good thoughts and suggestions. If you show the executive the email, I would make sure to darken out any names. If you have a trusted source, I would speak to another EA or someone you can trust to get calm, honest feedback. Once I get that and in that calm mode, I would speak to the executive honestly and calmly.

    When I first started in my position, it was suggested I keep a list of my accomplishments and successes. This has helped me immensely in my job reviews and has helped to build my self confidence in my position. Wishing you the best.

  2. It seems that someone/others on the team, who received the thank you from your manager, could reply-all that the recognition is appreciated and that you were missed on the original email, and were a big part of the planning an ultimate success . Since that didn’t happen I would ask my manager if he heard anything about how the meeting went. But that leaves it for him to do the right thing.
    I also like the idea given in earlier comments to reach directly out to the stakeholders of the meeting to get their direct feedback. In my role and company, following all events, we request a debrief and get feedback from attendees on what they liked, what when well and things to improve for next time. Continuous improvement and you taking hold of your power to control what is within your reach. You can get power in this situation. Believe in your abilities and good luck.

  3. I can empathize with your situation. I used to cover the EA when she was out of the office in my prior job. I was required to complete similar tasks which always required hours and skills that went above and beyond. I also did not receive any verbal recognition. However, little did I realize at the time, that my actions did not go unnoticed. I later learned that the upper level executives, including the president of the company, were singing my praises during executive meetings. Ultimately I was promoted to the very EA position that I was filling in for. Consider that the same might be happening with you.

    With your situation, I would thoughtfully consider the following:
    1. Was it an honest mistake, or oversight?
    2. If it was intentional, then the real issue lies with them and not you. They may have the need to control or may feel threatened by you. Again, the issue lies with them.
    3. Try to empathize with them; they may have a lot on their plate, hence the oversight.
    4. Give yourself time to process your feelings, whether you talk them out with a trusted confidant (be careful to talk in a way that is problem-solving and not gossiping), or write out what you are feeling.
    5. Consider if you will talk to the boss (and only you can decide that, as you know them best). If you do decide to talk to the boss, consider asking them why they did not see fit to recognize you and ask if there is something you can learn or a skill they would like you to further develop. This way, they will see you as an ambitious employee who is eager to learn and grow and it won’t seem like you are pointing a finger at them.

    1. Alicia Sinclair

      Amy Green, this is amazing advice. Giving people the benefit of the doubt will save you the embarrassment of reacting when you didn’t need to. I’ve personally always tried to steer clear of demanding what is rightfully mine. It’s awkward to tell someone “what about me”. I’d rather not say anything, hope someone else mentions it to them and let them be embarrassed by their mistake. Of course you risk them not noticing, but in my experience, life has a way of giving you those little opportune moments where it can be brought up without awkwardness. I look for those moments.

  4. I understand the frustration. I have been in similar situations myself. The only thing that we ask is that we get a little recognition for the work and the extra work that we do. Have you had any kind of a conversation with the Manager about how you feel about this particular situation? That would be my first line of advise. Sometimes they just need to hear it because they expect it and don’t see that it would be out of the norm for you to do anything different than you are normally doing. If they don’t know how you feel, they can not change.

  5. Ask in an email for feedback from the meeting stakeholders (the outside EAs and/or board members, your CEO, etc.): you would appreciate hearing if the meeting logistics were handled well and to the attendees’ satisfaction, any suggestions for improving on the meeting’s success or something of that sort if you are assigned the tasks again. CC your manager on this (not a blind CC), and when you get responses, be sure to CC him again when you graciously send out thank-you replies to those who responded to you. This wouldn’t look obvious, since we are all used to getting back-and-forth shout-out replies for ourselves and others from multiple addressees. Surely, he will get the message on how valuable you are just by reading others’ emails. If no response from him, at least he will see how valuable you are in the eyes of your colleagues and other upper management staff.

  6. Addition to previous comment. I recommend letting it go and keep your momentum (towards wowing them the next time). I find that when a situation like this occurs, other leaders who are impressed with my work will (should) step up (recognize) and say something about my contributions. You may or may not get delayed recognition from the manager who ignored you in the first place. I keep my chin up & make it my mission to wow that manager (as I said before, get them on the “gina train”. 🙂

  7. Oh my!!! How many times something similar has happened to me. I had to do some serious soul searching and yes, I must say — have gotten my feelings hurt. The thing that keeps me going (and not looking for another job), is I consider the source, and believe it or not, consider my CEO’s ignorance of how I handled (and continue to handle) things…especially in a crisis mode, as a backhanded compliment. My CEO does knows that if there is a project that needs to be done, a meeting that someone needs to step into, a point person who is dependable that he can always count on me. I think sometimes he thinks of me as the stone or the anchor that holds the company together. Although a thank you is GREAT, if I was not doing a good — no great job—he would not keep coming back to me to fix or handle sometimes serious situations. I have the respect of my co-workers and truth be told, I am blessed to have a great team who I also call friends. I hope this helps in someway to ease your mind and mend your broken spirit. Blessings–

    1. thank you! I agree…if it was bad news, I would hear about that for sure and you are correct that the CEO wouldn’t keep coming to me for assistance in her EA’s absence if poor job. My Executive is just clueless when it comes to bonding with people, especially women. In 30 years, I’ve never worked for anyone as socially awkward as this man in an office setting. I’ve been here 10 years, 3 with him. Luckily I still have my other Executives who can balance out the bad days with some good.

  8. oh boy! i’m seething for you! my knee jerk reaction probably isn’t going to be as professional or well thought out as some of our awesome colleagues’ advice but here’s what i would do…

    i would send him an email thanking him for the day off as you worked just as hard as everyone else (insert the points you made on the work you put in) and say you’ll see him the following day. in other words i wouldn’t wait for him to acknowledge my day off, i would simply let him know you’re taking it and state in a simple quick way, why you are also eligible for that time. if he takes issue with it then there you you have an “in” to begin a conversation that feels overdue.

    sometimes with coworkers and bosses like this, i find being proactive rather than waiting for them to recognize their mistakes, is the way to go, especially if you know this person isn’t known for being particularly aware of others or their contributions/efforts.

    good luck and hang in there!

  9. You need to advocate for yourself. I think you need to put your big girl pants one, take the email, go into his office and ask why everyone else gets a day off and you do not. See what he has to say. Be prepared to list what roles you had in getting the project done in time. and

    If you accept this behaviour, you will keep getting more of the same. when this type of things happens to me, I try to think “if I were a guy, what would I do?” A man would not have this indecision, at least not the men I know. If I am uncertain, I will ask my hubby for his feedback. Sometimes you have to be a bully back to someone who is being a bully. that kind of attitude is no longer permissible in today’s work place. We all have a part to play in calling it out.

  10. What’s worked for me…earn their respect (it takes time & patience). wow them, get them on the “Gina train” by showing them how invaluable you are (what is it they need…reports, PowerPoints, scheduling…figure it out and consistently make it rain for them). If that doesn’t work, I pray they get blessed out of the company (that works too). 🙂

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