Happy Admin. Professionals/Secretaries Day. Time for cake in the office kitchen?

25 Apr

Is the term Secretaries Day outmoded and insulting? I’m not sure, but I still use it. Mostly because my secretary is a secretary, and it would be weird to call her an “Administrative Professional” because it seems like that is a different thing. 

One thing I learned QUICKLY as a young lawyer is that a great secretary is worth their weight in gold (platinum even!) Yes, a great secretary is extremely helpful for a seasoned attorney, but for a young lawyer who doesn’t know how to do their job yet, a great secretary will help you learn how to do your job, and will save your backside.  I don’t understand when people are disrespectful to secretaries. That is a BAD IDEA. Without a secretary, I would have to keep all my papers organized on my own, and that would be a quick trip to failure.

I’ve worked with fantastic secretaries, and secretaries that were not so fantastic.  I admit, as much as I want to be likeable, I’ve worked with secretaries who hate me.  I do my best to not be a jerk, though.

Principles to Live By So Your Secretary Doesn’t Hate You (and Maybe Even Likes You a Little):

(I tried to avoid using pronouns, but he/she looked weird, and subbing in “your secretary” was very upstairs/downstairs…so I fell back on “she,” but it still feels sexist.)

1. Say “Please” and “Thank You” and explicitly acknowledge a job well done.

2. Do not yell. Even if she has messed something up.  Everyone messes things up sometimes, YOU DO TOO. Yelling doesn’t fix anything.

3. Don’t save things for the afternoon.  Get assignments to her in the morning if possible, if sending something over at the end of the day is unavoidable, give a heads up as soon as is practicable.  If you have to ask her to stay late, give as much of a heads up as you possibly can.  Don’t let your delay become her emergency.

4. Remember presents on Christmas/Hanukkah/Year End and Secretaries day.

5. Be as clear with deadlines as possible. If you need something in an hour, say you need it in an hour. If you don’t need something until tomorrow, say that you don’t need it until tomorrow.  Without that information, it is impossible to prioritize.


4 Responses to “Happy Admin. Professionals/Secretaries Day. Time for cake in the office kitchen?”

  1. Lindsay @ LindsayInNYC April 25, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    Man, this post couldn’t have come at a better time!

    I’ve been seriously butting heads with my paralegal at the new job which creates added stress. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had a secretary/paralegal who was significantly older than you? I feel as though mine has an issue with that… She has a *very* strong personality and likes to dictate how things will be which is not really the way it should be working. I’m at my wits end with how to deal with her…

    Kicker? She just called me a “spoiled brat”.

    • BeezusKiddo April 25, 2012 at 10:09 am #

      I think the only way for you to address this is to go higher up– either go to HR or a managing partner, and explain the situation. The only way it’s going to get fixed is for you to get paired with someone else. Confronting her will only breed resentment.

      My philosophy is feedback from support staff is vital, but whomever signs the signature line makes the final call. And everyone should treat one another with RESPECT. That is not happening in your situation, and that is the fundamental problem.

      • Lindsay @ LindsayInNYC April 25, 2012 at 10:15 am #

        That’s what I did… We’re in the smallest office so it’s partner, jr. partner, me, paralegal and part-time filing guy. Partner suggested we meet weekly to go over my cases and to do’s. Paralegal won’t compromise. Every day/time I suggest won’t work for her – her “hybrid of responsibilities” and “administrative tasks”. And said I just have “associate” work. After the spoiled brat comment, I emailed the partner/my (our?) boss. I apologized for having to get her involved (because this is petty and she shouldn’t have to) but didn’t see any alternative. She said she would talk to paralegal this afternoon. We’re the only two in the office until early afternoon – nice and awkward.

        Feedback in both ways is vital – her to me and me to her. And so is respect. And calling me a “spoiled brat” is disrespectful and insulting (which I told my boss). Grr, I’m so heated now!!

      • BeezusKiddo April 25, 2012 at 10:19 am #

        I agree with you completely. Name calling is unprofessional and uncalled for. I’m glad the partner is at least taking it seriously and is going to talk with her. That’s a rough situation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: