what admin assistants really want from their coworkers

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question — and since yesterday was Administrative Professionals Day, this is timely. A reader writes:

I’d love to talk about what other admins would like in their job to feel appreciated and perform effectively. We’ve established we don’t want flowers on Secretary’s Day, so I’d love to centralize what we do want. Number one on the list is always going to be a living wage. I recognize that’s out of some people’s control, but there is still more that can be done.

For example, actually listen to my deadlines. I set the deadline because we need it based on the procedures that you have created. At the very least, if you don’t listen to my deadline, don’t blame me when something important is delayed and I already followed up with you about it four times. The bottom line is you need to treat me with a modicum of respect, and if you ignore my messages you aren’t doing that. If you pulled this behavior with a peer, you’d be fired.

Readers who work in assistant or other support roles, want to chime in?

{ 446 comments… read them below }

  1. Sassy SAAS*

    I don’t have a helpful suggestion, but I did just see a social media post from a local fire department who gave their Admin Assistant… a vacuum cleaner. And yes, the admin assistant is a woman. So maybe that can be added to the “bad ideas” for this faux holiday.

    1. Guest*

      I’d actually be really excited about a nice vacuum haha, we received branded duffle bags in my office. I already have a duffle bag.

      1. DirtDevilLivedFor25Years!*

        lol, yes. I’m in need of a new one and would be delighted but only because I need a new one! Otherwise, not so much.

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      There’s two parts to this. The gift itself, bad idea…unless she actually asked for that. I have more than once asked for a vacuum as a gift because a good one is an expensive necessity. A hallmark of adulthood is asking for and being excited to get a home appliance.

      The second part, posting about it. Yuck for sure. It comes off “look how good is men are to her” post just to get likes for themselves. If they wanted to actually highlight the admin, they could have just said thank you and listed the ways she is amazing. . But I’m also soooo over any and all posts where the gift giver is the poster, it always seems braggy.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Excellent point! Any post should be about how great the EA is at her job, not how great the employers are for realizing it.

      1. Yvette*

        Totally agree with you. If she asked for it, or if they heard hear complaining that her old one was on its last legs and she really needed a new one and would love a Dyson or whatever and that is what they got her than I don’t see a problem with that. Especially if it is because they overheard her, it means they pay attention to her. A decent vacuum is way better than flowers.

        That is assuming it was for her personal use.

    3. Diana Trout*

      If it were personal, I would love it. I have been eyeing a new Dyson for a while now….

    4. meggus*

      honestly if someone bought me a Dyson Animal+ i’d be thrilled. and my apartment would have a lot less cat hair :)

    5. Can't Sit Still*

      If it were a Miele Cat & Dog, I suppose it could be forgiven. At least it has resale value if she doesn’t need it.

          1. Kit*

            “Jail for [parent], jail for one thousand years!” is a common sentiment expressed on our cat’s behalf! Poor Miette, to be kicked like the football.

    6. Lenora Rose*

      The only way this makes sense is if she was complaining *within the week* that the old one at home broke down and she couldn’t afford another expense right now. Anything where they thought this was appreciation (and we know it must have been) is just… flames.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Even in that case, I’d figure out how much one cost and give a cash card. Home appliances are a weird gift to give a coworker, however you slice it.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          Admittedly, the Rainbow water pot special remains part our household after close to 20 years. (we had to apologize to it after the little problem with AA battery it picked up, but that was really our fault).

  2. Amber Rose*

    Don’t tune me out just because I report on “boring” administrative details. If I mention some new procedure or document in a meeting, it would be nice if people didn’t ask me “what’s that?” a few days later. Nobody likes to feel ignored or like their job is pointless.

      1. Amber Rose*

        A little bit tempted to start randomly quizzing people and offering gold stars for correct answers like we’re all in kindergarten again.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Not admin, but responsible for getting external communications approved & sent. Thinking of getting laminated cards made up.

        2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          You know, that’s actually not a bad idea. I think you’re on to something. Get your boss in on it and make a game of it somehow.

        3. Be Gneiss*

          I do this and give out dum-dum suckers. And you’d think people would feel it’s patronizing….but they’re as excited as the kindergarteners.

        4. Em*

          We genuinely do this at my job. Monthly quiz on the contents of our biweekly process update/reminder emails, with a gift card drawn among people who get everything right. Works great (and paid for my new curtains!)

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I think this is a great idea! Most people, obviously, remember procedures for tasks they do every day, but there’s tons of stuff that needs to be done a certain way that is only relevant at certain times, like filling out tax forms or similar.

            Plenty of employees remember they WERE trained on XYZ, but can’t recall the details or find the relevant information in staff handbooks (another subject) but don’t want to ask because they “should” know, so they wing it and cause more delays than if they’d just asked in the first place. Regular reminders in the form of contests or games for small, fun stakes would probably do a lot to eliminate that kind of issue.

        5. Julia*

          When I was a faculty assistant I did secret gold stars. Faculty ignored every deadline and then wanted their course materials processed immediately. Their course was always the most important/prestigious.

          After two years I came up with a new system. When faculty gave me their course materials I wrote the course number on a white board behind my desk. First turned in was on top. As I finished handling courses I erased them. If a professor came in and said theirs was the most urgent I told them I would be happy to do it ASAP but would need to confirm with the faculty ahead of them in the queue. After one semester this caused my faculty to try to be at the top of the list. A couple of them gloated over turning things in early.

          1. FemGeek*

            This reminds me of something that happened many years ago (late ’70’s) when I was running the blueprint/file room of an engineering company. I had a Dutch door with a shelf where there was a pad on which the engineers could list the drawings they needed copied. On the side was a hook where they were to hang their requisitions. Since the earlier requisitions were on the bottom, I worked from the bottom up. One particularly busy day, a rather impatient engineer came over, looked through the requisitions, and found that his was 2 or 3 from the bottom. Since he didn’t know my system, he pulled it off, put it on top, and sternly told me to “leave it there!”. So…I did. Which meant a couple dozen others were moved ahead of his in the queue. Touch of malicious compliance, anyone?

          2. Reluctant Mezzo*

            My husband always treated the school secretaries as the heads of the school and made sure the Twizzler jar was always topped up. For some strange reason, his stuff always got done first…(he also read the rules of the school district print shop and followed them, and somehow his stuff often got done first too).

    1. KC*

      Omg THIS! Admins literally CREATE PROCESSES that help a business function – they essentially are underpaid/unrecognized project managers in most offices. DON’T IGNORE MY EMAILS YALL, THEY ARE IMPORTANT OR I WOULDN’T BE SENDING THEM!!!!

      1. Callie*

        I went to a training workshop recently. The facilitator started with a team building activity–with the material provided (tape, dry spaghetti, etc) build the tallest tower you can.

        We then watched a TED Talk about this activity. The person who developed it was some sort of business consultant. He showed a graph of the height of the tower when just executive level staff worked together vs when admins joined the team. The latter group built significantly higher towers because the admins could organize, delegate, develop systems, etc to keep the team focused.

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          All admins should put this on a loop on a screen behind them and turn up the volume as needed (to drown folks out)

        2. Student*

          I note that the TED talk omitted the height of towers when only admins were on the team.

          I guarantee you that they collected that data, but don’t report it because the admins by themselves do better than admins + execs or execs along. Because they are used to getting something done, and don’t need to spend energy trying to keep the useless execs on task, and don’t need to defer to bad exec decisions from people who outrank them.

  3. The Crow Can Type?*

    Clear directives! I can’t help you with what you need if you don’t tell me! And please give your admins the resources to actually do what you need them to do: if you want a library of all available llama grooming certifications to be inputted, please give me access to the llama grooming databases so I can compile that information!

    1. GeorgeFayne*

      THIS. The amount of times someone asks me for something super general and then when I request more detail it turns out they actually needed something different is absolutely staggering to me. I understand wanting to keep communication brief and to the point, but just take an extra sentence or bullet point to tell me what your end goal is so I know what I need to give back to you.

    2. Willow Pillow*

      I have similar needs in terms of clear directives, but I would break it down a bit and look for one of these scenarios…

      1. Give me detailed instructions
      2. Be receptive to me asking the questions that clarify those details
      3. Accept that if I don’t get those details, my path to completion will likely look different.

      I have often experienced that people don’t understand how to actually implement what they’re asking for (or they don’t know how to communicate it), they react poorly to my attempts to understand how they want it to be done, and then they blame me for not reading their mind.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Not an admin, but I’m feeling this at the moment! The CEO has asked me to write a proposal for a llama grooming project. No details about his specific goal for the project, if there’s a budget, whether it’s a priority compared to the dozens of other camelid projects we already have on the go, or anything else. Just, “write a proposal for llama grooming.” And he’s three levels above me on the org chart, so it’s been extremely difficult for me to get more info about any of this.

        So we’re firmly in scenario 3. I don’t have the details, so I’m making assumptions. If my assumptions are wrong, that’s fine – but the only way I can correct them is if you give me more details!

        1. Willow Pillow*

          …and after a lot of effort and stress, everyone learns that alpacas aren’t actually the same as llamas!

          1. MigraineMonth*

            It’s always fun when you turn in the llama grooming proposal they requested, and they ask why you haven’t included anything about the humps.

            “… did you want a proposal for grooming a camel, not a llama?”

            “Yes, that’s what I said!”

    3. Lucy P*

      Yes, please don’t change your mind (and the subject of the conversation) three times while giving me instructions and then get mad when I try to clarify what you’re telling me to do.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      This reminds me of the late, great comic strip Retail, with an exasperated Marla saying “Help me help you!” to the vaguest customer in existence.

    5. LCH*

      seriously. i was once threatened with firing because i wasn’t doing something that i had not been told was part of my job. honestly, it felt like an item where if i had taken it upon myself to just start doing, i would have been fired.

      it was removing files from my boss’s office to return to the filing room. ummm… yeah, i’m not sure you just go into an attorney’s office and start removing files… but if you wanted me to go in once a week to ask about which files were ready to go back, i would have done that! put it in the job duties!

    1. Urka*

      Oh! And understand that if *you* change the parameters/goalposts or something, that means the deadlines will probably also change, and I can’t do anything about that because I am not magic.

      1. Urka*

        I have one more, and it’s pretty specific but I think can be spread across multiple industries.

        And of course, it has to do with money.

        If part of my job involves tracking YOUR commissions, and you already earn more than me, don’t be a pain in the ass about your commissions. Seeing the extra income you get to earn through sales and the sloppy ways you don’t keep track of it is frustrating enough, but you don’t need to be rude and disorganized about it.

      2. Mf*

        Yes to the “I’m not magic” thing. Too many people have watched romcoms about admins and they think admins can work miracles and have special admin powers. *insert massive eye roll*

        What it results in is unreasonable expectations.

        1. Chinookwind*

          I have been known to look someone like that in the eye and point out that mind reading skills cost extra and that they cannot afford what it will cost them to bend time and space. Because I pick my audience, it usually gives them a reality check about what they are demanding (especially since I can sometimes have stuff ready before they ask for it and am known for padding timelines for these types of changes).

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      My grandboss 2 jobs ago used to say “you are so smart!” to me every time I did something that required anything other than scheduling meetings and photocopying. I did a LOT of stuff outside my job description, so she said this to me fairly often. I was so tempted to say “sorry, did you expect me to be stupid just because I’m an admin?”, but alas I never got up the nerve.

      1. baby twack*

        Oh my gooooooooooosh that is infuriating.

        Similarly I worked in a coordinator job (not explicitly doing admin, but frequently doing admin tasks) and even after I grew into associate director of the program, got my masters in a related subject, and was a frequently requested public speaker/committee/board member, my boss would still act surprised when I talked coherently about the science behind our program. “You sound like you know what you’re talking about!”

        1. The Comeback Kid*

          “You sound like uou know what you’re talking about”

          “One of us has to!”

      2. Chinookwind*

        Literal respect for the skills it takes to do our jobs would go a long way.
        The angriest I have ever been on the job was the day a junior accountant decided to explain to me that I needed to write the address of a recipient on the OUTSIDE (his emphasis) of an envelope before sending it out. I actually asked the office manager if I could hang my university degree behind my desk so I could prove to them that receptionist does not equal uneducated idiot. This is doubly worse when you realize that there is an actual question on the grade 9 provincial exams about how to address a letter and envelope AND I was a marker of said exams one year, so the literal expert.

        Flip that with the partner in the same firm who once watched my co-receptionist and I hand the desk during March while we dealt with walk-ins, bankruptcy clients, couriers, a 20 line phone system and whatever anyone else in the office wanted. I saw his jaw drop at the chaos and he later told us, and our boss, how amazed he was at how we kept our cool and worked as a team. That praise still warms my heart.

      3. J*

        It’s constant! I get a “You’re so smart, you should go to law school!” but it’s always when I do a quick Excel format for them to see things better and not when I’ve just reviewed a case and provided a summary that they quote directly from. So I sometimes give back the “Yes, I know I’m smart, that’s why I didn’t go to law school” line if it’s especially warranted and/or petty.

    3. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      “Stop talking to us like we’re stupid.”

      That last is the most important part – a good admin makes the office tick smoothly; it takes a LOT of intelligence to do that. More, I think, than people realize.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, admin work is so much more difficult than people realise! Anyone who has ever covered a busy front desk knows that it is an incredibly difficult job to do well. I hated front desk/main phone line coverage because I don’t do well with endless interruptions. Anyone who can deal with it well has my eternal respect and admiration.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Nod..I can’t even get two people to meet without getting a headache and having to lay down for the whole day*

          * internet talk lol

        1. JustaTech*

          I say a good lab manager is worth their weight in saffron.
          A bad lab manager is frustrating.
          No lab manager? Set your money on fire and kiss your research goodbye.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        If there’s anyone in working America positioned to know how much people resent, fear, and despise intelligence, it’s admins.

      3. I'm Not Phyllis*

        Yes – stop talking to us/treating us like we’re stupid, and then two beats later telling us how you couldn’t survive without us.

    4. leeapeea*

      BIG UPS on this! I like where I work, but my company doesn’t acknowledge* how an admin can grow (whils staying in an admin role – other admins have grown into technical roles), or the immense value of an admin experienced in the company’s systems and people.
      *tbf, individuals in my company acknowledge this, but organizational acknowledgement, to me, means increased salary/benefits and potentially title bumps.

    5. pope suburban*

      All of this. So, so much. And also please give me the opportunity to get out of this effing role. I don’t *care* that everyone is happy having me here as a very efficient dogsbody; I am not on this earth to do the scut work for people who think they’re better than me, I have the same right as anyone to earn a promotion or to be rewarded for my education/professional achievements. Being stuck in these low-level roles where everyone treats me like a silly kid who’s just doing this for pocket money has negatively impacted every single facet of my life, most notably my mental health and my lifetime earning potential. All this for not even a living wage most of the time, and certainly never a decent one.

      1. Good Wilhelmina Hunting*

        And don’t regard that night class I’ve got to take or extra lunchtime study I’ve got to do in order to improve my skillset/get that certification/finish that degree as an off-purpose distraction from “my” role. I take my professional development seriously, too. It’s not a freaking hobby.
        It does seem that if you join an org. as support staff, that’s all you’ll ever be to them.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Oh, yeah. So many people seem to act about an admin wanting promotions or growth the way they would about their dishwasher or oven suddenly asking for a raise–you’re just there to do Tasks! Not to be regarded as sentient!

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            If ever you watch the classic film Working Girl with Melanie Griffith, her character spends the entire time dealing with this.

  4. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

    Livable wage, good benefits, nice schedule, etc. are all the sorts of things everyone wants and should get. Often, we’re on the front lines and have our hands in a lot of pots- valuing our perspective and our opinions about how things are going and what could be improved would be nice. One of the best managers I’ve worked under was intense in a lot of ways, but what made him great was that he actually not only took my advice, but actively solicited it. He kept me in the loop about what was going on and I knew when I told him something, he’d take it seriously. I haven’t always had that- I don’t necessarily need everything I say followed up on or implemented, but when I don’t feel like I’m taken seriously? Yeah, that’s demoralizing.

  5. Maria M*

    SUPPORT. Have my back when I need it! Don’t leave me hanging when I’m being challenged or disrespected by another senior person. Speak up.

    1. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Or freaking disappear when you are expecting a call/appt.
      Or get annoyed when I don’t know something you are responsible for informing me about.

      1. Chinookwind*

        Or forget about us when everyone else is released and can go home before a major holiday. I have literally been the receptionist in a 100 person firm who no one wanted to let go home early despite the fact that there was no one else available in the building to answer their phones or help clients. The next year, after I had been promoted to another position, two of us admins literally cornered the partner who released us for the day and said we wouldn’t leave until someone did the same for the receptionist. It had literally not crossed anyone’s mind to let her go home with everyone else (Because she wasn’t personally answerable to one of the partners, they all thought someone else would do it).

    2. ZugTheMegasaurus*

      I used to handle a number of accounts for which the signatory was a particular high-level VP. He was super busy so had an incredible admin who handled everything and ran a very tight ship; it was almost intimidating how good she was and pretty much everyone whose work touched this VP respected the hell out of her.

      I remember one day getting on a call with several people including a new sales rep, and this new guy starts talking about a conversation he’d had with the admin. Even in his telling (which I would assume is the version he looks best in) he was overwhelmingly demanding and disrespectful. There were audible gasps from everyone else on the call, and the rep’s manager made him leave the call immediately so he could go apologize.

      1. Miss Muffet*

        Brilliant. Love this guy’s manager – not just making the apology happen, but LEAVING THE CALL to do it.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      This is my pet peeve. Do not speak to our admin disrespectfully or dismiss what they’re asking for. Frankly, in the majority of cases, they’re more valuable than the manners-challenged people and if they’re asking for something, it’s likely that it came from someone who outranks them as well.

  6. Nowwhat465*

    It’s been awhile since I’ve been an Admin Assistant, but one thing would be: UPDATE YOUR CALENDARS. Or tell me when you schedule something, I can update it for you.

    So much annoyance would come from me not being prepared for a meeting they had, because they never added it to their calendars. But they mentioned it in passing while by my desk, so I should have known.

    1. J*

      Oh dear gods of the world, all I want is for when people to tell me to schedule a meeting for me to just check their calendar and be able to schedule. I usually even do a “Your calendar looks free at 3, that okay to meet with Llama Sourcer?” and they’ll tell me it’s fine and then at 2:50 it turns out it was not fine.

  7. Chick (on laptop)*

    1. Pay me more goddamn money
    2. Do not treat me as a tool that can be loaned out to others; I am a human.
    3. Do not assume I am less intelligent than you because of my title
    4. Seriously, pay me more goddamn money

    1. Urka*

      Yes yes yes on the more money. People have no idea how complicated and stupid these jobs can be and more money def helps.

    2. KC*

      Number 3 is a biggie for me. I have two degrees in film and television; a [male] coworker once condescendingly said I “probably don’t know what SNL is” and proceeded to give me a “history lesson” on its impact. I mean… come on. Even if I didn’t have the degrees, why would you assume I don’t know about one of the most influential TV shows in history?

      1. Delta Delta*

        SNL has been on television for about 50 years. Unless your mailing address is “somewhere under a rock” chances are very good you know all about it.

        1. JustaTech*

          As someone who lives firmly under a rock, I know what SNL is and have a vague understanding of the cultural relevance.

          A coworker recently said she always starts meeting with the assumption that everyone is at least as smart as her, and goes from there. (Not that everyone is as knowledgeable on a specific subject, but that they’re smart enough to figure it out.)

    3. ShysterB*

      Oof, that second one was a HUGE issue with a long-time admin at my firm. I was on her support “share” with one of the busiest attorneys — he sucked up so much of her time because he never learned how to do a lot of “self-support.” She was always working OT … and he was ALWAYS volunteering her to take on tasks for attorneys who were not on her share and who had their own admins to support them. And she hated it. And told him. And he still did it.

      She retired a couple of years ago. Her replacement (whom she helped hire and trained during the mid-pandemic-shutdown) simply … does not accept being voluntold.

    4. Anonymous Admin*

      I’m big on 1 and 4.

      I got over #3. Read the Art of War. Sometimes them thinking your stupid can be to your advantage. But only if you’re ruthless (I am).

    5. Random Renaissance*

      Thank you for #2! I worked for a guy who used to ask me for my help by saying “Can I steal you?” I’m not the Hope Diamond, or any other inanimate object! And another guy who used to say “I have to pull you off that task.” I’m not an f’ing tick! I am a human!

  8. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

    Oh goodness, I have a few of these from my last job.
    1) Please have my back. When I have to give people the bad news you don’t want to give, then you turn around and do the exact opposite. it makes me look incompetent. And I don’t know how to you want me to handle issues so you don’t have to.
    2) Please don’t ask the same question multiple times expecting a different answer or trying to play gotcha. When you ask a policy question that you don’t know because you just started, I’ll give you everything I know. I’m not holding anything back.
    3) Please read your d*@# emails. Don’t text me saying “Congrats on the baby. Did you reserve my car?” when I emailed you the day before saying I didn’t and would get to it the next work day. This goes double if I’m sitting in the NICU.

    Yes, I’m still bitter about some stuff. One day, I’ll be like Elsa and let it go. :)

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      The not reading emails thing is so annoying. I’m not emailing you for fun, I’m emailing you because there’s something you need to know that’s going to impact how you work.

      1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

        Everything turned out fine. Baby girl is now a happy, thriving 4 year old. But those days in the NICU are not ones I wish on anyone.

    2. HigherEdAdminista*

      And with regard to number one… we can deliver bad news sometimes, but don’t leave us to be the punching bag for every unpopular decision.

      I worked with someone who did this frequently. If there was a difficult student or the like that we had been handling for awhile, and we went to him for support (because he would never come out and see what was up), he would send us back out for another 10 rounds.

      Do not view admins as handy abuse blockers!

    3. Bess and George*

      “Congrats on the baby. Did you reserve my car?” is now my shorthand for that type of dehumanizingly self-centered boss. I hope it enters the AAM lexicon. Thank you for sharing it and I’m sorry for your experience!

      1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

        This is from the same boss who spent my last day in the office in his other office on the other side of campus. I didn’t hear a peep from him all day. When I checked my email Monday morning at my new job (I work for a university, so I went from from one department to another), I found an email from him sent later that night asking me to do something else for him. That task did not get completed by me.

    4. atalanta0jess*

      Congrats on the baby, did you reserve my car?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!


      My dude. That is not how this works.

      I’m so sorry you had to deal with that doorknob

      1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

        That job is what helped me get the one I’m in now. It’s not perfect, but it’s been a night and day difference.

    5. Rose*

      Yes, just read your emails! If you don’t read your emails and messages, but you also don’t want me to enter your office and interrupt the flow of your work, and you also cancel most of our meetings, please don’t blame me because you didn’t get the information.

      1. Meg Murry*

        And read the ENTIRE email message, and if a person asks you more than one question, either answer everything they asked, or acknowledge that you are only answering part of the message and will have to get back to them with the rest of the answers.

        One of my co-irkers is the WORST for this, calling us in a panic after reading only the first few line (or only the subject line) of an email, and asking questions that are clearly answered if he’d read the entire email before flipping out

        1. Ellen*

          Omg YES please answer all of the questions I asked you in the email, rather than randomly picking any two and ignoring the rest. Of course, this is the same guy who will be handed a stack of checks to sign, and he will inevitably miss a couple for no discernible reason.

  9. Owlette*

    My company gave all admins a $5 gift card this year. For some reason, it feels worse than getting nothing. With inflation, I can’t even afford Starbucks in my area with $5.

    I would love if my bosses actually did what they say they would do instead of me having to chase them every few days. It feels like my projects aren’t a priority, even though I’m the one our clients have to speak with. It’s tiring having to tell my clients, “Sorry, we haven’t been able to complete X yet,” when X is just a quick 5 minute call my boss needs to make.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        $5 gift cards are for situations where it would also be appropriate to give a company swag item like a water bottle – a prize for filling out a survey or volunteering to be a guinea pig in a training session or something. They have a place, but showing heartfelt appreciation isn’t it.

        1. Never Boring*

          We got emails this year that we were getting collapsible water bottles for Administrative Professionals Day. Only in the office, though. I am 100% remote.

      2. Zephy*

        I’ve seen Amazon gift cards for $1 and $2.

        But yeah, such a tiny amount is somehow worse than nothing, and a gift card on top of that? “I don’t know or care to know enough about you to know what you might actually want, so here’s some money for you to buy yourself something on my behalf. But not enough money to actually purchase anything.”

        1. Pointy's in the North Tower*

          $1 and $2 Amazon credits are for when I pick Delivery Day on my Prime order for something I don’t need RIGHTNOW so I can buy a cheap Kindle book. They’re insulting for any other purpose.

    1. Chutney Jitney*

      Oh man. One of my worst ever bosses gave us all $5 gift cards one year to a new joint where nothing cost less than $8. I never used it.

      What a cheapskate, but also, there was supposed to be company money for team building, so…

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Ugh, that’s like the people who go oh, my total is $41.45? Round it up to $50.oo.

      I have actually said “You do know that is a fifty-five cent tip?” Yep. No shame, they just want round number so they don’t “have” to deal cents in figuring out their bank balances. Sure, fifty five cent tip! How about I run down and punch the driver in the nose for you too?

      1. Waiting on the bus*

        I don’t get thr maths on that. Isn’t it a $8.55 tip if something costs $41.45 and I pay $50 instead? Is it a tax thing?

  10. The Prettiest Curse*

    Former admin here. If you’re someone who does everything very last-minute and you know that you’re going to get something close to a deadline or late, at least let the admin who needs it know first. Sometimes delays are unavoidable, but it’s much better to have a heads-up t8 be able to plan workload.

    Also, if you consistently drop large amounts of urgent work on your admin staff without warning or explanation, you’re demonstrating that you don’t value their time and don’t think they’re important enough to be allowed to plan their workload properly – and therefore they will most likely end up feeling negative towards you, at best.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      When everything is urgent, nothing is. People who insist on making everything TOP PRIORITY without actually prioritizing are going to get a staff that doesn’t take them seriously.

      1. Never Boring*

        I had a boss like that once. I asked her to rank the dozen tasks we were discussing in order of priority so I would know what order to do them in. Her response: “THEY ARE ALL FIRST PRIORITY!”

    2. AmusingSoprano*

      Which is where I’d to say “Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency for me”.

      1. It is what it is*

        A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

        Everything is not an emergency. If you treat everything as an emergency it demonstrates that you do not know how to plan properly.

        Just don’t operate that way, especially if the admin supports more than one person.

  11. Wishful thinking*

    I support a team and the deadline item hits so hard. I also get aggravated by lack of responses. I get that some deadlines will be missed. This becomes a bigger issue when you don’t communicate it. Don’t blame me for the emergency you created by ignoring my last several emails, messages and calls.

    It also really irks me when you only respond when you suddenly need something. I will bend over backwards to help someone that makes me life easier… I will do what’s required for you if you make my job harder.

    1. Ashley*

      With the deadlines, don’t make me work late just because you want to roll in at 9am and take 2 hour lunches. Respect my hours and plan accordingly.

    2. Cait*

      This resonates so much!
      My request would be… y’know that saying, “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine”? Help me make that true. Do not expect me to drop everything to help you because you didn’t plan ahead and/or ignored all my requests to meet a deadline. If you’re my boss, allow me to let others face the consequences of their procrastination and don’t force me to take a hit for them. Especially repeat offenders.
      Also, pay me more.

  12. Caramel & Cheddar*

    I’m a former admin / current admin-adjacent support in a company that has whittled down a lot of administrative support over the years, so what I’d want based on what I see:

    1) Companies to actually value their administrators, which includes paying them much better than they do but also not assuming that non-admin folks will be able to seamlessly take on admin work when the admin quits and doesn’t get replaced.

    2) Acknowledgement that admin is skilled work that most people are hopeless at.

    3) Giving regular attention to the broader operational systems at place in every company. We’re heavily project based, so we’ll have a lot of deadlines put together for the project without paying much attention to where operational work intersects, e.g. if you need to issue a contract *right now*, the time to review and update the template with legal was three months ago. Better yet, operationalize that kind of work, e.g. decide that you’ll sit down and review all contracts of Type X every September so that they’re ready to go when you need them.

    4) Know the difference between an admin, an executive assistant, and a personal assistant. There is some overlap, but as an admin I never want to run your personal errands.

    5) Be more situationally aware of things that require prep on our part, e.g. don’t let me know on Friday that you need me to train a new staff person on Monday.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “Acknowledgement that admin is skilled work that most people are hopeless at.”


      1. rayray*

        Seriously. Admin jobs are too frequently spoken of in condescending manner, as if it’s something only a brain-dead, no ambition person would ever take on.

        I saw a meme once about how every office has “Peggy” who has been with the company forever, and she’s the most underpaid and underappreciated person in the office but if she so much as calls in sick for ONE day, things fall apart.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        I was an admin for a number of years, and I realized that people who’ve never done it don’t understand the skills involved because the hard parts of the job are largely invisible. Each individual task I had to manage wasn’t especially difficult, but the sheer volume of moving parts, juggling of priorities, shifting attention, multitasking, remembering details, getting things done in the right order, etc. takes a lot of practice and skill.

        Emailing everyone for their lunch order and then placing the order isn’t hard and may not look like skilled work. Knowing how far in advance you need to email everyone, keeping the responses organized and not letting the dietary restrictions info get dropped, charging the meal to the correct account code with the corporate account at the lunch place, knowing when to schedule the order so that food will be there in plenty of time but still fresh, and having backups in stock when the restaurant forgets to include forks is skilled work, especially since it’s one of 50 things like it that a typical admin is handling that week.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          The small nonprofit I worked at had always experience prep for Board meetings as a total scramble, with a lot of printing and collating of materials after hours the night before each meeting. After I’d been through a few of them they were much calmer, because I had a system where I’d get things printed early if I knew they weren’t going to change, kept track of the folders of materials that each Board member got and found a good way to transport them to the (usually offsite) meeting space, knew to ask the right people for certain kinds of info far enough in advance, etc. Someone would come over to ask if I needed help at 3 p.m. the day before the meeting and it would basically be prepped.

          It looked on the surface like Board meeting prep was just making copies. It wasn’t.

        2. WantonSeedStitch*

          To be a really good admin, you need to be a logistical deity. The idea of trying to wrangle my executive director’s schedule alone fills me with nausea, but our admin does that while also wrangling other schedules, handling supply orders, helping people register for professional development or book travel, etc., without breaking a sweat. I could never do that.

        3. Adultiest Adult*

          I just experienced this this week, and it was humbling. Our usual admin wasn’t able to order the pizza we needed for a staff party, and the task fell to me. I admit that I needed to ask about a billion questions, and luckily another admin took pity on me–where do we usually order the pizza from? Who has the gluten free options? Are we aware of any other dietary restrictions among the staff? How much pizza do we actually need for 35 people? Do I need to get plates and utensils too? What kind of lead time do they require? How do we coordinate delivery to our hard-to-find office if I’m in a meeting? I have great respect for our admins, not in the least because they make all of this look so easy, and I know it’s not!

      3. Minimal Pear*

        I always forget that people are bad at admin work! The people I support will be like “I just can’t keep track of this I suck at it!” and it’s the most obviously easy thing in the world to me. Which is, of course, why I’m the admin.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        100%. My management team would be lost without a good admin. They spend their days putting out customer-related fires while trying to manage staffing, training/development, and their day job. Without someone with their eye on the details and poke us as necessary, it would be difficult to focus on the revenue work.

        Our former department admin could seamlessly plan an invasion and is a better problem-solver than 90% of the organization. They’re my former admin because they do project and portfolio management for us now.

    2. Metadata Janktress*

      “Acknowledgement that admin is skilled work that most people are hopeless at.”

      YES YES YES. My department leans so heavily on our admin staff because we would be lost and helpless without them, especially since financial and other admin procedures at my workplace are very complicated and we don’t have the ability to keep track of them, let alone know what we’re supposed to do. Having someone who fundamentally understands them and can do them competently is priceless. Anyone who tries to tell y’all that anyone can do your job should be yeeted into the sun.

    3. Delta Delta*

      So much on point 2! I worked in a law firm that went through admin assistants faster than we could learn their names. Big Boss refused to pay more than $10/hour, and wanted to hire people with very little experience or education so that he could pay so little. The end result was that the candidates couldn’t do the job – not because they weren’t good people, but because they lacked the ability and the skills to do the work. So we were on this endless treadmill of hiring/quitting. Boss refused to believe admin work is skilled.

      It was a terrible cycle. I felt awful for everyone involved. But not my boss because he’s a moron.

    4. ACA*

      “Acknowledgement that admin is skilled work that most people are hopeless at.”

      SO MUCH THIS. So many people have no idea the amount of organizational work and effort that goes on behind the scenes.

      1. Clisby*

        I can only imagine. I finished my computer science degree in 1988, and at a job fair my last year, the FBI was one organization I talked to. The recruiter recommended that I apply for a job as a secretary.

        Me: Why? I don’t want to be a secretary.
        Him: That way, you can get your foot in the door. (I doubt he said this to male students.)
        Me: But what makes you think I’m qualified to be a secretary?
        Him: We assume if you have a college degree, you’re qualified.
        Me: ????

        (I was qualified for an entry-level computer programming job, but no way was I qualified to be a secretary.)

    5. Anonymous Admin*

      Piping in on #2: my obnoxious grand-boss always thinks things that aren’t “brain work” should be easy and instant. After one especially egregious last-minute, rudely delivered, and stupid request I got in her face and said, “If it was instant, you wouldn’t need to pay people to do it. Thinking is instant. Logistics takes time.”

      I was absolutely seething and my tone was ice cold and yeah, not my most “professional” moment but I haven’t heard the words “Can’t you just—” out of her mouth since.

      1. Silver Robin*

        That sounded perfectly professional to me – no personal attacks, no raised voice, just facts. Icy tone is perfectly warranted. And hey, regardless, it worked! Good for you for sticking up for yourself

      2. Never Boring*

        I nearly decked a former boss after he handed me an 800-page court filing 45 minutes before it was due. Across downtown, paginated, hole-punched, and binder clipped in a particular order. In septuplicate. All of which had to happen after he blessed and signed it and handed it to me. (No, I didn’t make that deadline. And after I got back from reaching court 2 minutes after the front desk closed, after a hair-raising taxi ride – if you tell your average cabbie that you need to make it to Immigration Court, stat, they floor it; I seriously through I was going to die half a dozen times – I told the boss that he was damn well going to have to find someone else to file his Motion to File Application One Day Late the next day, or do it himself. He knew better than to get in my face after that. Especially since he had had several months’ advance notice of this particular filing deadline but procrastinated until after the last minute for the umpteenth time.)

  13. my cat is prettier than me*

    I wish people would let me know when they have visitors coming in. I’m away from my desk occasionally, so people are just standing in the lobby waiting. Also, pay me more. Pretty please.

    1. rayray*

      I worked an admin role where I was the front desk on our floor, but we had a sister-company the floor above us and that floor was totally locked down so visitors – including people coming in for job interviews – were sent to my floor first. I’d do my best to help them but sometimes not knowing who they were made things confusing and awkward. And guess who got scolded for being “unprofessional”?

      I did eventually work out with the admins up on that floor to please share schedules with me or to give me a heads up about who was coming and when for meetings/appointments which greatly helped, but it was crazy to me that I was expected to help people I had no idea who they were or what was needed.

      1. Raine*

        I temped as the front desk receptionist at a secure manufacturing facility where the HR director absolutely refused to notify us when they had people coming in for interviews. She said they should be asking for someone by name. Over half the people were too nervous to remember that detail. Drove me nuts.

    2. Lana Kane*

      This just took me back to my one and only admin job. I was at my desk which was next to the front desk, and the receptionist had stepped away. I was taking a complex call. In come a group of clients who I knew. They see the front desk is empty, and before I can signal to them to wait a sec, they’ve breezed through the conference room. I finally end the call, go to the conference room, and the door is closed. It seemed like the meeting had started so I didn’t go tell the analyst they usually met with. He comes down 10 minutes later fuming that I didn’t get him. Maybe tell your peeps not to be such entitled jerks?

      To the analyst’s credit, I heard he talked to the clients about it and it never happened again. But dude, really, coming at me when I’ve never before failed to tell you that your whatever o’clock is here?

  14. Eldritch Office Worker*

    This is more administration than assistant, but I think that falls under support.

    Answer. My. Emails. Bare minimum read my emails.

    I know process is boring. I know my emails are longer because I have to give you more details. I know the sexy parts of your job are not submitting your time and giving feedback on policies. I know. I do. But the business cannot run without these things and I cannot make all my decisions unilaterally. Someone down the line will be pissed they didn’t get input on something even though I begged them for input for weeks, and dealing with that is easily the least sexy part of *my* job.

    Please. Take the five minutes.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        It’s extraordinary how many times an auditor can say “Well, you didn’t get approval before submitting this invoice to a client” when I’ve asked for approval at least a dozen times on each invoice and been blown off each time.

    1. Indubitably Delicious*


      Also, if I ask more than one question in my email, I did that because I need an answer to alllll the questions. On the rare occasions that I send you a form or a survey, I didn’t ask you for the information for my damn health. I need it all.

      1. NoHRhere*

        I have concluded that they have skim read my email at best when this happens. Too busy to read it properly. Very annoying to have to go back to them again.

      2. ENFP in Texas*

        Tangential to this, if I send you an email that says “Here is the issue. Do you want to do Option A or do you want to do Option B”, do not send back a one-word reply of “Yes.”


        1. Taketombo*

          I’m the go-to-dogs body for implementing reporting based on an archaic software system (in addition to my day job). And I’m a woman.

          I feel this one so hard.

        2. Schnapps*

          OMG, this.

          My last boss (I was her second in command and headed up a lot of the admin work) would do this.

          I would usually respond with, “Ok, but that didn’t answer my question.” If she did it again (this happened), my next response would be, “I didn’t ask a yes/no question, I asked an either/or question.”

    2. Minimal Pear*

      Ugh yes submitting time! People always ignore my emails about it to the point where it’s becoming a HUGE problem.

      1. Syfy Geek*

        I want a way to turn my subject line in my email bold and bright red so they couldn’t say they didn’t see it.

    3. Liz*

      I can see my boss’s inbox, and it is rather disheartening to be able to see that he hasn’t even opened the email containing the draft letter that needs to go out urgently.

      1. NoHRhere*

        This! It is so demotivating to see he has read other people’s email, just not mine. Nothing says your work is not important/ a priority quite like this.

    4. Madame Arcati*

      This reflects what I was about to chime in with, on behalf of our former admin – dear colleagues; just because you perceive the admin task to be dull, don’t delay providing the admin person with the information they’ve politely asked you for. It’s rude. Also you’ll benefit from that that org chart or contact list or extra storage or whatever.
      Also don’t try to use your relative position in the hierarchy to persuade the admin to let you off doing something that everyone has been asked to do. I noticed that from a colleague (who I used to manage and had form for trying to wheedle her own way; she seemed to think the whole organisation operated for her convenience) and got straight on to her saying she needed to do the thing toot sweet spit spot or else. Yes the admin could have been more robust and many would but he was younger and new to us, and imho it’s on her to be respectful.

  15. Gondorff*

    Respecting deadlines and respecting work hours! Waiting until 4:57pm on a Friday to dump something on administrative staff and expecting them to get to it any time sooner than 9am on Monday morning is just plain disrespectful.

    Also – learn people’s titles and their actual roles.

    1. Ama*

      Oh god that reminds me of my last admin job — it was at a university so the faculty and grad students were in the building all hours and they kept waiting until after 5 to show up with a time-sensitive question (often catching me with my coat on heading out if they found me at all). So my boss sent out an email reminding everyone that I left at 5 pm.

      Yup, for the rest of my time there I had a line at my desk every day at 4:45, including the time a faculty member came down asking for an advance for his three month field work trip to China, on a Friday and he was leaving Sunday morning.

      1. HigherEdAdminista*

        Yup! They literally expect us to be there every day of the week, and at any hour of the day that they might need someone. I have heard over the years how unfortunate it is that we aren’t in the office after someone’s classes end (at 10:00pm) or that they emailed us at 5:00am and it took 4.5 hours to get a response. Others lament that they have to go to the library or one of the computer labs on the weekends instead of the study spaces in our building (which are tied to our division) and it’s like… you do realize what you are asking for would mean I basically live and work in this office, correct?

        The line at 4:45 is also quite annoying! It reminds me of when I worked in retail and someone would enter 10 minutes before closing and think that because they made it into the shop, that they now had unlimited time there. Like it was only no new customers after closing, but the existing customers were welcome to shop around for another 3 hours.

    2. Empress Matilda*

      My former roommate was an admin assistant – I remember her boss calling her at 9:00 on a Sunday morning to find out where they keep the printer paper. (I believe the answer was “in the cabinet beside the printer.”)

      She was NOT happy.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I got called on a Saturday because a partner could not find a binder of key witness documents and information I’d made for him. It was on his desk, under a folder he’d set on top of it. He at least had the good grace to be embarrassed by it and buy me a fancy coffee on Monday.

        1. Never Boring*

          I had a boss who did that to me on a Saturday morning once. The documents he was asking for were standing up, indexed with colored Post-It notes, in the large red case file standing up on his desk next to the phone he was calling me from. I should have known better than to answer the phone. I didn’t get fancy coffee on Monday, either.

      2. Liz*

        I got a phone call on a PTO day from the OTHER admin assistant on my floor, asking how to use the dishwasher.

        I told her she could find the manual in the second drawer to her left.

  16. Brain the Brian*

    If you’re my manager and you set up my job to be mostly admin tasks, don’t tell me in our weekly check-ins “not to bother with the details.” My job is the details — let me tell you the ones that are giving me trouble or with which I need your support.

    If you send me a file to copy-edit, don’t get huffy about my edits. Either that, or send me something that’s written coherently in the first place. I do, after all, have a degree in clear, concise writing.

    Mostly, treat me with respect. Even though my job is not formally an “admin assistant” position, lots of admin work falls to me, and it would be nice not to see it denigrated for no apparent reason.

    1. Never Boring*

      My job was not formally an admin assistant job, either, and I got dinged in a performance review for not meeting a billable hours requirement that nobody had ever told me I had, 8 YEARS into the job. My response: “if you don’t want me to spend so much time on administrative work, then don’t assign me so much administrative work, because I do the work that you assign me.” The part I didn’t say: your actual admin is too busy online shopping to do the damn admin work, but somebody actually has to do it.

  17. KC*

    Former EA here – these are some big, overarching kind of things that I struggled to find in my EA roles that led me to leave that career altogether:

    1) I wanted to be able to go to work and not deal with sexism and infantilism every day. Throughout my 20s, I was treated like a girl. Not a woman – a girl. Like I couldn’t be taken seriously, like I couldn’t possibly know anything about the big, scary world out there. And of course, because any administrative position is typically associated with being a woman, that sexism bled into how much my work and time were valued – both in terms of interpersonal expectations of me and of my compensation. EAs are business partners to executives. We are present for conversations that determine the direction of entire companies and industries. Why am I treated like an idiot or a child?

    2) I wanted the boundaries of my job to be clearly defined and respected. There was an attitude that I would just do EVERYONE’S admin work, or get other people’s lunch (not just my boss’). It was unbelievable. People I didn’t work for, whose work my exec barely touched, would ask me to make complicated, color-coded binders for them. Other executives would get mad at me for not asking them if they needed me to pick up their lunch for them when I went out to get my own boss’ lunch. I’d get the “you’re just so much better at this menial, easy task than I am” line ALL THE TIME. People were just CONSTANTLY treating me like I was a communal resource they were entitled to use rather than someone with a defined position that didn’t play a support role to THEIR position.

    3) I no longer wanted to be a verbal punching bag for people who are in a bad mood. I’m a person with feelings and a professional. If you wouldn’t talk to someone you view as being at your peer level in a particular way, do not feel entitled to talk to ME that way.

    1. There's a G&T with my name on it*

      “you’re just so much better at this menial, easy task than I am” – Schroedinger’s Task: it’s simultaneously easy enough for a simple admin person to manage yet difficult enough that smart, professional executives can’t do it *eyeroll*

      1. merida*

        lol, yesss
        Also, having managers say that over and over (“but you’re just so good at doing the tasks I don’t want to do, so keep doing it!”) is not actually the same as positive feedback. That is the only feedback I’ve gotten in my role.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, God, yeah. Really? Exactly how much better can I be at cleaning out the fridge than you are? What you mean is, I don’t WANT to clean out the fridge.

    2. OrigCassandra*

      The sexism, yeah. That can go all the way to hell, do not pass go, do not collect any money.

      The other -isms, too. Back in my admin days, I (as someone with Jewish ancestry) had to sit there and take it when my boss pulled out a super-common antisemitic slur. Couldn’t stop my eyes going wide and scared, however.

      1. KC*

        Jeez Louise. I am so sorry that happened to you. I have heard execs say violently hateful things about individuals and entire communities; it’s scary to know people with those viewpoints have so much power in this world.

    3. Brain the Brian*

      Infantilism, yep. Cis man here, but my young face and obviously gay orientation combined with my admin-adjacent role to make people treat me like a teenager well into my late 20s. I’m now in my 30s, and I think people have finally realized I am an adult of some persuasion.

    4. Jules the First*

      I like to say that a good EA is the Ginger Rodgers of the business world – they can do anything the exec can, backwards in high heels and make it look easy and they are literally one in a million. A real EA is NOT just a glorified admin assistant and I wish more people knew that!

      1. Somehow At The Top*

        I often wonder if my EA would be better at my job than me. I would take a professional bullet for her any day.

    5. merida*

      ooohhh so much yes! I especially feel #2 deeply. My role, which was originally not completely admin work, now is completely admin because “you’re just so good at doing my paperwork!! Good job! Here is more!!” >_< My requests for other tasks are met with blank stares and repeating that I'm sooooo good at paperwork. Cool.

      "Treating me like I was a communal resource they were entitled to use…" <- mic drop! Heaven forbid us admins ever be busy or otherwise unavailable – in a meeting, working on another urgent project for someone else, working on my own work (gasp, lol), eating lunch, taking a day off… the amount of shocked reactions I get to just being a normal person loudly displays their entitlement.

      1. Good Wilhelmina Hunting*

        They expect to palm off tasks that the graduate trainee and the intern have already turned their noses up at, and then act surprised or grumpy when you push back and point out that yes, actually, that task IS part of the trainee’s/intern’s normal learning curve…

    6. Mf*

      All of this!! I was an admin for 10 years (including some EA work). It’s really rare for assistants to the treated like business partners—even though that’s what they are!

      Also, the whole communal resource thing? A HUGE problem. Nobody wants to do boring admin work so they try to pawn it off on the admin.

      Basically, the admin is treated like everyone’s office servant and ends up feeling like a second class citizen.

  18. Tracy, Essentially Cheesy*

    1) Include me in communications. Travel, meetings, visitors that are coming, planned offsite meetings and dinners (why don’t you have me coordinate these things?! I do a good job).
    2) Say hi once in a while. Don’t wait until something is critical before talking to me for the first time in days or even a week.
    3) Let me do the work I’m supposed to do (see #1).

    1. Mother of Corgis*

      OMG, #1 so much. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been left out of a conversation directly involving what I do, or heard “well I told Fergus to tell you” instead of just telling me yourself. I’ve started telling them that Psychic is not in my job requirements or duties, so if they want me to be, they’re going to have to pay extra.

      1. rayray*


        I got screamed at in a job for mailing something out. It was supposed to go out certified but I wasn’t told. The screaming included “Didn’t you hear me tell Jim that it had to go out certified?”

        F*ck you, Ellen. Seriously. I still hate you.

        1. Zephy*

          What an asshole. It never got to that point for me, but I did at one point have a boss who liked to give me assignments by telling them to someone else on the phone. Like, she’d be on the phone and start saying “Of course, we’ll deliver the llama samples to Location X by 2 PM today,” meaning “Zephy, I need you to deliver the llama samples to Location X by 2 PM today,” but she wouldn’t actually say that. And it meant that whenever she was on the phone (which was almost all the time, for both our job and her completely unrelated side business), I would have to stop what I was doing and basically eavesdrop on every phone call in case she started assigning me work. It was apparently too much of an ask for her to talk to me directly. We worked side-by-side in the same room.

          1. NoHRhere*

            I get copied in on emails to other people saying NoHRhere will do x or Y. Saves him actually speaking to me I guess!

  19. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I’m not an admin, but I am a woman who has been treated like one and interviewed for a misleading job that ended up being more admin than, ah, what I do for a living.

    If you want an executive assistant, receptionist, other admin person ***hire a proper person*** instead of tacking those duties on some unpaid intern, fresh college grad or lower level job description, thinking that role “shouldn’t take too much time.” Not hiring a proper admin shows how little you think of the role, how easy you think it is, and how little time and effort you think it takes.

    Every top notch, legitimate admin person is worth their dedicated, specific,***assigned****job responsibilities and every damn dime they’re paid.

    Women do not have magical admin powers nor are we born with them so, yeah, you definitely don’t want me.

  20. many bells down*

    Everyone’s computer is networked to the printer. It will take you much less time to just PRINT IT YOURSELF than it will to email it to me and wait for me to get to it. Seriously, why are you emailing me things to print for you???

    1. NoHRhere*

      I get emails with a message drafted in it asking me to send it to all staff from him. He could have just sent it to the All staff email group already set up! No time has been saved! 2 emails are now needed.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Hah! Yes. Our CEO does this all the time, and I’m always sitting there thinking “Why did he have Lucinda send that instead of sending it himself…?”

        1. NoHRhere*

          The CEO is also the culprit here. part of my role is to support him and save him time, but this just makes me want to shout at my computer. Whyyyyyyy!

        2. Philosophia*

          Q. “Why did he have Lucinda send that instead of sending it himself?”
          A. Self-importance.

      2. NB*

        Hahahaha sob!, these replies are such a flashback to my admin assistant jobs at a university, where print this or email this (both sent via email) were regular occurrences. I don’t miss 95% of those jobs.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, it drove me INSANE when one of the Deans I supported sent me emails that said “send the attached to Linda” – typing that sentence took longer than typing Linda’s email address in the “to” box along with mine

        2. Never Boring*

          I had a boss once who literally had me print out every single one of his emails for him, back when laptops were an expensive novelty (he had one; I didn’t). Until the day he got an email from HR with his estimated 6-figure pension benefits. Which I dutifully printed out for him and left on his chair as I had been instructed. Somehow, after that he managed to learn to print things.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Bingo. When I was an unpaid intern, my horrible boss called me after I’d left for lunch because she emailed me something she needed printed ASAP (there were no mobile devices back then) so I ran back to the office, printed it, couldn’t find her, left it on her chair, and grabbed my lunch.

        By the time, I left work that day, she was still nowhere to be found and that document was still on her chair.

    2. Yellow*

      Our General Counsel used to walk to my desk to ask me to print something for him. HE HAD TO WALK PAST THE PRINTER TO GET TO MY DESK.

      1. Random Renaissance*

        I worked for a llama manual editor who was so protective of her managerial role that when she wanted something filed, she would walk two offices over and hand it to her secretary to put in the files. Llama editor could have filed it herself by swiveling her chair around and opening a drawer — her keester didn’t even need to leave the chair.

    3. Relentlessly Socratic*

      OMG, I have a former co-iker or two who wanted our support staff to print things for them…Like, someone heard somewhere that “leaders delegate” and took that to mean “treat support staff like your personal serf”

      See also: sending an e-mail to ask someone else to send an email (complete with content), and asking someone else to schedule an internal meeting when all our calendars are visible.

    4. Elitist Semicolon*

      I worked for someone once who wanted me to print out all the emails she received overnight so we could sit down and go through them together every morning and she could tell me how to respond. I said, “I think this will be inefficient and a waste of paper” but she insisted. The next morning I showed up at her door with half a ream of paper’s work of emails, because she was part of a long discussion thread and each reply contained the entire chain up until then. An individual email, printed, could be 5-6 pages long. (Fortunately, she withdrew that request.)

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      Oh, I can answer that. The printer hates me, IT can’t figure out why, and it loves my admin. It gives me a bunch of PC Load Letter BS and purrs like an adorable kitten for her. (I have been successfully using computers/printers since the mid-90s and mine works fine at home, so I don’t think it’s me.) I also do a ton of meetings, so I can email stuff from my meeting and walk by and pick it up from her on the way to the next one that I need it for.

  21. HigherEdAdminista*

    When we set up systems so that you can easily access what you need, please take time to learn the system and use those resources. Being asked for updates when we have a dynamic chart where that information is stored, or not checking the shared drive for the documents we have there is demoralizing. Of course if something seems off or out of date, you should contact us right away, but we spend time trying to make sure everything is set up and accessible and when you never check it before contacting us, it makes it feel like we aren’t doing our jobs or are wasting our time.

    Respect us when we tell you what a process is or what the limits are. There isn’t a way we can gloss over all the steps and paperwork and just get you what you want tomorrow. We certainly call in favors when we can, but we can’t get around policies just because you find them burdensome. We aren’t trying to logjam you; trust that we want you to get what you want done, but we aren’t lying that it will be difficult.

    1. Brain the Brian*

      Related: please, please learn which systems we can access and which only execs can see. Telling me to go look for a crucial piece of information in a system that I can’t access is not helpful, and neither is gaslighting me and pretending that I should be able to get it for you.

    2. Anonymous Admin*

      Related to calling in favors: I can and I will. But then when you ask again on Tuesday, guess what? That favor bank is tapped. And don’t ask me why I’m running around to help so-and-so when that’s “not my job.” Who do you think did a favor for us last week?

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      I get the feeling that a lot of these “can’t you just…?” types watched The Maltese Falcon or similar too many times, and decided the office secretary was actually their wife/robot servant who can be called at three in the damn morning to tell their partner’s wife that said partner was just shot, then bitch at the secretary in the morning when the wife is in the office and he didn’t want to talk to her.

      (Why yes, that movie WAS just on TMC. I couldn’t believe what Bogey got away with asking his secretary to do.)

      1. Random Renaissance*

        You never saw Della Street complain to Perry Mason and Paul Drake about the sometimes dangerous tasks she had to perform, or the long hours she worked with them. With, not for them — they treated her like the colleague she was.

  22. Eph*

    Read your emails. Seriously, 80% of my work involves communication. I send out information in multiple formats to try to hit as broad an audience as possible, and still have people ask me “could you tell me about X,” sometimes in reply to an email that contains the information they’re asking for. This is incredibly frustrating, and makes me feel like my work is wasted.

    And if you need me to do something, don’t assume I’m going to magically know your needs by (still not a mind reader!). I can’t schedule a room for you if you don’t tell me when you’re meeting.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          Or whether the meeting will need to have people join remotely! (This impacts the tech needed, the availability of which varies from room to room.)

          1. Industry Behemoth*

            Yes. I once booked our supersize conference room, which was equipped with tabletop microphones at each seat. My boss didn’t tell me there’d be telephonic participants too, and IT got called in too late to troubleshoot in front of the assembled in-person attendees.

            1. Brain the Brian*

              This one happened with the head of our largest client in the room once. The purpose of the meeting was to explain why our rates are high, and management had hoped to use “competent, professional, smoothly implemented IT” as one of the justifying factors. That was fun.

  23. Jane Bingley*

    As an EA, please understand I’m balancing priorities from across the organization. I know each department feels like their needs are the most urgent, but if you have a narrower scope of focus, you have no idea what else might be on my plate. I promise I’m not ignoring or neglecting you because of anything personal – there are crises most people never learn of because I handle them as soon as they come up.

  24. Manufacturing Admin*

    I’d love it if people stopped treating me as a favour machine. I do administrative work but if we both have Adobe Pro, why are you asking me to convert your document to a different file format?

      1. Random Renaissance*

        My last admin job description should have been “everything no one else wants to do.”

    1. Thrillian*

      The answer they’ll never tell you – they don’t actually know how to use it to convert to another file format.

      The sheer volume of people I’ve encountered who have Adobe and treat it like some alien technology is mind-boggling. Half the world, it feels, thinks you need Adobe Pro just to OPEN a PDF.

  25. mango chiffon*

    Since we’ve returned from the pandemic, the workload seems to just be increasing, and yet our admin staff headcount has actually shrunk, so we are supporting more teams than before because they decided to eliminate one of our staffing headcounts to give to another team. It’s the same amount of work as before PLUS additional support, and yet we have to still maintain the same levels of support while being non-exempt. I only have so many hours in the week and I’m not allowed to go over that. Either hire more staff to do the work, or don’t expect the same quality of work.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      If it wasn’t for the fact that you mentioned being non exempt and therefore we’re in different countries, I’d be wondering if I’d written that – my old team split in two after a restructure and the other half of Old Team, without any communication, are acting like we’re their support even though I was led to believe it wasn’t the case, and there isn’t the capacity to take on the amount of their work that they expect without hiring at least one more person. Thankfully my new manager is trying to sort this, but it’s taking a while.

  26. Powerpants*

    Keep me in the loop. To keep this place running smoothly, I really do need to know almost everything. People expect it of me. I am always introduced as the person who runs the place. Funny that everyone here makes more than I do. Also, I send out a newsletter with everything everyone needs to know weekly but still get a gazillion questions that can be answered by actually looking at this document that I spend a lot of time creating. And no flowers. I want money.

    1. Merely Me*

      At a previous job, I explained it this way: My boss runs the place. I keep it running.

  27. Cha Cha DiGregorio*

    If I send you an invite to an optional team lunch, it’s because I need a headcount for food. I can’t order “tentative” food, and you shouldn’t decline or not answer the invite if you’re going to show up and eat 3 plates.

    I send out email reminders relaying info and sometimes that info is unpopular – because someone in leadership told me to. I’m not personally banning space heaters or unapproved overtime in my capacity as Office Manager and you DO have to listen to me.

  28. sarcastic salamander*

    Do veterinary receptionists count? If so, besides the obvious PAY US MORE, respect our skills. Just because we can’t perform surgery or draw blood, doesn’t mean our “soft” skills are any less important.

    Y’all vets & techs try answering phones, having to schedule the difficult appointments and handling pissy clients (and usually your sour ass too) for 8+ hours, then tell me again how easy our job is?

    1. CorgiDoc*

      I’m a veterinarian and I can say that a good veterinary receptionist is worth their weight in gold! When I was working overnight ER my practice asked me what they could do to improve the (very poor) working conditions for me and my techs and I said without a doubt having an overnight receptionist, as did all of my techs. Of course management decided not to do that, despite one of our best receptionists REQUESTING TO WORK OVERNIGHTS because it fit better with her personal life situation, which is in part why I no longer work there.

      1. CorgiDoc*

        As an aside, they also lost that amazing receptionist because she left to take a different job with overnight hours.

        1. HigherEdAdminista*

          It’s amazing how they think people are just going to accept conditions that don’t match their life, when they are an excellent person with options!

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      Holy crap, yes. Receptionists have the hardest job in the hospital. I couldn’t do it to save my life. You all are amazing and I can only hope your employers get a clue.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      As a pet owner, the front desk staff and the vet assistants make or break the practice, just as much as the vet does. I have changed vets because the front desk staff was terrible. I have changed vets because the assistants were terrible. And I have changed vets because the vet was terrible. IT ALL MATTERS.

      1. onetimethishappened*

        Same with people doctors too! We left a practice where we really liked the Docs but the front desk was horrendous. So rude, impossible to get a hold of and in general awful. When you have kids that need to see the doc alot (or medical conditions that require to have a lot of appointments) your front desk staff matter!

      2. knitcrazybooknut*

        I love our vets, but we know that if we drop in to pick up a prescription or buy some food, it will be 20 minutes to a half hour before we’re able to leave again. If we had options, we might have switched by now because of it.

      3. Gracely*

        Truth! My current vet practice has amazing front desk staff and assistants (and great vets, too). We changed to them because the previous vet *sucked* and had basically no support staff (part of why they sucked, tbh). Great staff make an enormous difference.

    4. Still not picked a username*

      I do an internal “oh no” if I go in the vets and there’s one of the actual vets trying to run reception, especially taking payments. It does not ever go well! As far as I can see they do at least publicly voice appreciation for the admin staff

    5. leeapeea*

      My friend is a vet tech who has, off and on, had to handle front desk responsibilities in their small, rural-ish office and… no. I just… could not.

    6. Ripley*

      I’m a receptionist in a large medical clinic, and if I hear “you’re the glue that holds us together” one more time while making $35,000 a year, I’m going to lose it. If I’m so special and important why am I barely making ends meet?

  29. Justme, The OG*

    When I was in admin, the one thing I wanted was respect. I made less than everyone else and it was on me to make sure everyone was paid and reimbursed on time. So things like including me in lunch plans or a Sonic run would have been nice.

  30. SpicyCodeBreaker*

    I am paralegal and I really do not appreciate when the attorneys I work for volunteer me to help other attorneys with their projects. It’s not like they’re reducing my other workload to compensate. I barely get paid enough to deal with the work I do have, I definitely do not get paid enough to deal with other people’s work, too.

    I just don’t feel appreciated or respected. As much as people gush about the quality of the work I do, nobody is ever willing to take steps to fix the things that cause serious problems and extra work for me. Nobody will listen until my work starts to suffer, and by then my reputation will be damaged through no fault of my own.

  31. ElinorD*

    my first year at a large financial institution, they took up a collection and handed us envelopes. I think it was about $800. I was stunned and thrilled!
    It only happened that once though.

  32. Nessun*

    I’ve been an admin for 20 years, and if the money thing (seriously, “pay based on market” only works properly if the market realizes our value, which I’d argue it inherently *doesn’t*) isn’t on the table, my next ask is – appropriate paid learning. We have these ridiculous skills programs that the company has paid way too much for, about how to best use Excel or Word, or soft skills that are aimed more at the client services staff than the admin group – they’re not useful, and we’re not in any way recognized for doing them. Total Waste. Offer me a modest budget for courses that are relevant to our work and interesting to do. I find them myself right now, and pay out of pocket, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to be supported in learning more about how to do my job well For Them? You’d think…

    1. Vonlowe*

      oh I remember this in my old job – my manager told me I had to take a course from the HR system. Thing is that I worked in a lab as part of the customer service team – so all of those courses were for scientists & managers.

      I ended up going on a time management course & the whole afternoon was how to stop interruptions. My whole job was to be interrupted by calls/emails!!

  33. Esmae*

    If there’s more than one person giving me instructions, get your sh*t together and don’t give me conflicting orders. There’s nothing more frustrating than being lectured because two people told me to do things differently.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Yes, I once had a job where I answered to five different people in three different buildings and none of them had a clue what the other was doing. It was maddening.

    2. E*

      Oh my god thiiiiiiiiiiiissss. Being praised by one person and chewed out by another for how I handled the SAME interaction is the most demoralizing and frustrating thing.

    3. merida*

      Agreed. I have two bosses (and several other managers who pretend they are my manager) and they never agree with each other or communicate with each other. Help me help you.

  34. AnonyAdmin*

    I’m good, but I’m not psychic.

    If you want me to do something outside my job spec, pay me more. Actually just pay me more anyway, my doggos deserve better food than what I earn can afford.

    I’ve been at this admin thing for nearly 20 years, do not micromanage me because I do know more than you, Mr CFO who talked down to me today and then looked all butthurt when I responded equally as condescendingly. I’m an old curmudgeon, we’re the best kind of admin.

    And isn’t it funny how those of us in lower level admin positions are the ones who do all of the work and get none of the praise? Recognise that this place would fall apart without us.

  35. It is what it is*

    Do not try and guilt me for using my vacation and sick time. They are part of my compensation and I’m entitled to them.

    Do not ask me to schedule all if my appointments outside of my 8-5 hours. Many places are not open before or after those times and no I will not schedule appointments on my vacation days.

    If you ask me to help out coworker with a task please do not just assume I can take it on permanently because “I do it so well”.

    Trust me to know how much I can take on without having to offload something. No you cannot expect to keep piling on other tasks and not take something off my plate. I am a human being not a robot.

    Do not micromanage me without just cause. If I’m doing my job, meeting my goals, etc. then trust me to do my job. If you don’t trust me then we have a bigger problem.

    1. Assistant for Eternity*

      Also – do not give me guff about what days I’m requesting to take! I looked at your calendar already, I *know* what you’re doing – so if I’m asking for those days I’ve already considered whether and what kind of support you need – so just say “yes”.

      1. Cha Cha DiGregorio*

        And assign backup coverage. Don’t make admins find their own coverage as a condition of taking a PTO day.

        1. Older Than Dirt*

          Ha! about six months into a Very Demanding EA/PA position, I submitted a vacation request of 5 days and Boss approved

          Of course, I was a** deep in alligators, working on a project outside my usual responsibilities that managed to touch every single one of the non-admin folks in the company – from CEO on down

          I created a scheduling spreadsheet, managed all the vendors involved, leapt through the hoops that the building required to make the event happen and designated a backup person to walk point on the whole thing while I was out

          Then, I went back and re-re-confirmed Boss’s calendar, booked Boss’s travel ahead of time (“just in case”), added that to calendar and in general, let TPTB know when and for how long I’d be out

          When I got back, I got a verbal black eye for “abandoning” Boss – not a word about the project that went off flawlessly in my absence, or the travel that Boss took, or Boss’s extensive meetings

          Such fun!

          1. I have RBF*

            I would have started looking for a new gig after that. It means that your Boss, or whoever chewed on you, was not aware of your job, what you had done, or the fact that vacation is part of your compensation. They would only get two weeks notice, but in an email CC’ed to HR. No fancy subject or emphasis, just “My last day is xxxxx”.

            But I’m mean like that. I did temp admin work for a while. I got treated like shit in more than half the places I worked.

  36. ACA*

    I am begging you, please respond to my emails, and respond promptly. Do not take so long to reply to an email about scheduling that everyone else’s availability has already changed. Do not make me chase you down with subject lines escalating from “Reminder” to “Second Reminder” to “REPLY REQUESTED” to “URGENT, ACTION NEEDED.”

    Respect that I don’t control the room scheduling system. If I say something’s booked, it’s booked. These are the rooms that are available. I cannot magically make new rooms appear.

    If I give you a deadline, it’s because I have a deadline, and often given to me by someone else who has a deadline. The “extension” I’m giving is because I built in a buffer because not enough people respect deadlines, and I should not need to do that.

    And for the love of god, respond to my fcking emails.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      And don’t complain to me that you were left out of the loop when you didn’t read the email that I sent you whose very purpose was to give you the information you are now complaining about not having.

      Live with the consequences of your own inactions.

      1. Correlation is not causation*

        Oh yes!
        If you can’t manage to read your emails, you aren’t allowed to complain about not getting information.
        I guarantee I get more emails than you every stinking day and I manage to stay on top of it.

      2. merida*

        yes yes yes yes.
        This is the most cathartic AskAManager lunch break read I’ve ever had! No one else I know understands these struggles! lol

    2. merida*

      Yes. And I’m so tired of the mentality that the higher-up a person’s position is, the less you can expect from them. I get that people are busy and are VPs and CEOs and such, but they still need to respond to my emails from time to time so I can do my job. Repeatedly not responding to my reminders, emails, and calls is rude and not acceptable just because they’re higher on the ladder than I am. I am done with taking the fall for people like that.

  37. Newly minted higher ed*

    this happened to me in a job where 50% of my duties were admin, and the takeaway seems like a really low bar, but there we were. there had been some changes with our internal vendor, those changes were not communicated, and when I called to attempt to use the service I was informed I no longer could. this was part of a larger shrinking of availability for the service I badly needed to do my job, which I expressed to the internal vendor. he told me to contact the admin team in X department. that I was on. I had told him that in our phone call. I was….flabbergasted. I’m supposed to call myself?

    people really should know their admins. barring that, listen when you’re told who they are?

    I no longer am an admin, but mad respect to all the admins who have supported me so far.

  38. Lcsa99*

    Actually cover the work when they are out.

    Don’t just cover the important stuff and leave the rest for them to deal with when they are back, or worse, leave it all for them, so they have a headache (or worse, an avalanche) to deal with when they are back after using one day of their measly sick days, or actually trying to relax on a vacation.

  39. Once upon a task*

    Processes are created for actual reasons not just for giggles. Dont get pissed because a new process has now gotten in the way of your short cut. Your short cut is probably why the new process was created to begin with.

  40. Sturi*

    I’m interested in the language in this reader’s comment. “If you pulled this behavior with a peer, you’d be fired.” It’s so weird that we don’t see support/admin staff as peers?! They’re contributing the requirements of their job and helping the company function just like everyone else is.

    Every employee has helping other employees as part of their job, whether it’s managing effectively, working together on projects, or even just making sure that your own portions of the work are done in a timely fashion to facilitate others being able to do their portions. That’s literally all admins are doing – collaborating on projects and completing work that facilitates other work. Why is an admin assistant ordering more paper for the office or maintaining a calender so weirdly gendered and devalued, but someone ordering project components for a client or maintaining a spreadsheet is somehow doing more of a ‘job’?

    I don’t know, maybe this is my frustrations with hierarchical org structure in general. But it also is very strange that admin work is somehow seen as ‘grunt work’ or some kind of lower tier. I could literally never do admin work! I’m not particularly detail-oriented, I am not nearly perceptive enough of everything going on around me to anticipate and plan for the needs of an entire office, and I can’t do that precarious juggling act of completing my own workload whilst fielding constant interruptions from people who need things. I’m successful and well-paid in my field but I’d get fired from admin in under a month.

    Anyways, justice for admin/support staff, y’all possess a unique and extremely valuable skillset and you’re absolutely critical!!

    1. Michelle Smith*

      I suspect it’s for similar classist reasons to why other roles, like janitors and operations staff, are also devalued. But yet, try working in an office for a full week with no janitor and see how long it takes to get unbearably disgusting. Or try working in an office in the dead of winter when the heater breaks and there is no operations staff to call for repairs or replacements. We really should value a LOT of roles more than we seem to.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        There’s a reason strikes are effective. Ask any city where the garbage collectors walk off the job.

        1. Sturi*

          SO true, both of you! Strike action shows us pretty damn clearly how valuable certain jobs are. (I suspect many high-falutin CEOs would also be completely helpless without their admin support. Just saying, I’ve worked with some ostensibly high-powered executives who couldn’t open a PDF without assistance.)

    2. OP*

      OP here. My word choice was literal–people that are above you in a hierarchy. If my department lead didn’t reply to other department lead 10 times about a deadline he’d be fired. If my department lead doesn’t reply to me? Nothing happens.

      Can a peer with a different job function be an a**hole and entitled? Also yes. My post was focusing on the thing that’s frustrating me most right now–people that are more senior to me that are nonresponsive.

  41. Peanut Hamper*

    “More money, you say?”

    Insert Pawn Stars meme with “Best I can do is $10 gift card” on the bottom.

  42. french fry*

    I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a person in the U.S. who is working full time to earn LIVING wages. But, this is especially true for Office Administrators. There hasn’t been a job I’ve worked where we’d all be frankly screwed if it weren’t for the Office Administrator. Someone with that key of a role to play in an organization deserves MUCH, MUCH better than we give in this society.
    We all should be doing what we can, where we are, with the resources we have to make living wages for hard working people a reality.

  43. Emm*

    1. Listen to my advice. When I raise a point or objection (“maybe we don’t need 20 pizzas for 10 people” or “it’s a busy time of year, so let’s send the RSVP well in advance”), it’s for a good reason. My job is to have the expertise and experience to know these things. Please let me do that.

    2. Keep me in the loop! I am almost always the last person to know when something happens. It makes me look incompetent to others, and it makes it really hard to do my job effectively. Even minor details or tentative plans are really important for me to know.

    3. Please just give me all the details when you ask me to make a dinner reservation so I don’t have to wait for your leisurely response when I email you back asking for the headcount. I know you’ve been to a restaurant before. I know you must know how this works. Please just tell me things.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Oh, God, the first one! This is my literal, actual job–I take pizza orders.

      I cannot tell you how many times people call and ask how many pizzas they need for X amount of people. I tell them we recommend such and such and then they either over or under order to a comically insane degree–either one seventeen inch twelve slice for twenty people or four of them for six.

      The latter usually flip out when they hear the total, too–yes, guy, this shit adds up! Fast! Which is why I told you that two larges should be plenty in the first damn place!

  44. H.Regalis*

    Former admin assistant:
    -Better pay
    -Better PTO
    -Better benefits
    -Back-up on dealing with angry customers if we work with the public: Very early in my working life, I was at a place where I was the lowest-paid person AND was expected to deal with violently mentally ill people on my own because full-time staff were all too busy/important to enforce behavior rules. It was bullshit.

    My last job before I transitioned out of admin work was pretty good. The field staff could be rude and condescending, but the C-suite people were actually respectful. My coworker “Juno” had to coordinate semi-annual medical exams for field staff*, which they were required to do or else they legally couldn’t work, and they would blow her off about it. She’d try to contact them multiple times over a series of months and they’d just never reply. When she talked to “Pat” the new C-suite person who oversaw the health and safety aspects of the work, Pat was livid. They contacted all the field supervisors and were like, “Your subordinates need to respond to Juno’s messages about scheduling their physicals. Anyone found to be working who is out of compliance with safety regulations will be pulled from active duty, and will have to come into the office and explain to me personally why they couldn’t be bothered to reply to Juno’s messages.”

    *Work paid for the exams and employees were paid for the time they were at the appointment.

  45. Employee with a union*

    No control over the wages or other benefits, so I’d like either something I really need or a week of lunches from one of my fave local restaurants.

  46. The Rural Juror*

    I’m in a project delivery support role, so admin-adjacent in my company’s structure. I’ve become good friends with the Office Manager/Admin Assistance, “Betty.” When I first started about a year ago, she was also relatively new and didn’t know many folks yet. I had offered to help her with something that required physically carrying items across the office. I ended up getting in trouble for it. It took a lot less time for two people to knock out the task and meant that it was less physically-taxing on her. But somehow the powers that be thought it meant I had nothing better to do and needed to go find some billable work instead of “wasting time.” I think the whole task took the two of us less than 15 minutes.

    Luckily, my manager pushed back and said that I was extremely efficient and tended to get my work done quickly, so she saw no problem with me taking a few moments to assist Betty. She was pretty peeved that upper management would nitpick on someone offering help like that, as if we should look down our noses at the lowly admin while they go about their menial tasks.

    Betty has felt unappreciated and has been job-searching. I can completely understand why and have been trying to be a good ear when she needs to let off a little steam. Our jobs have some adjacency, so I’m a unique position in the company to understand her frustrations and have had some similar experiences. She absolutely deserves better treatment and a workplace that doesn’t actively make her job harder!

    TLDR: don’t make anyone in admin’s jobs more difficult by acting like their role is less-than!

    1. J*

      I remember to this day every attorney who helped me break down a big event. I also remember the attorney who did nothing except make my job harder during the event or the prep.

      If you did nothing but enjoy the show, I honestly don’t care either way, that’s your job. For real, I get it and I’m glad you did your thing and hope you got a lead.

      The attorney who shared photos online of how I was exhausted trying to use a table as a step ladder while assembling a pop-a-shot 4 feet taller than I was – he’s still my nemesis. Turns out he was always a jerk. Plus he was 6’7″ and could have reached much better than me.

      The attorney who put the ice buckets with leftover ice in the sink so I didn’t have to carry them – still one of my most beloved humans even though he retired. I remember almost crying in gratitude after a 14 hour day.

  47. Meg*

    I am not an admin, but I do a lot of scheduling in my current job (and hi admins!! you are doing the Lord’s work! I hate it!) – and I’d say, if you are a very busy person who is typically booked solid 9-5, and you want to meet with someone else who is also booked solid, then saying “Make meeting with so-and-so happen next Tuesday” won’t work. One or both of you will need to either 1) move something on your calendar or 2) recognize that this meeting can’t happen on this timeframe. I can’t magically add hours to the day and neither can your admin!

  48. Living that Corporate Life*

    EA here – if you travel a lot, are generally behind on your emails, very busy, bad at replying to chats or emails, or you just don’t want to deal with the minutiae just give me all your logins. Hotels, airlines, your travel credit card, GIVE ME EVERYTHING. Full email access so I can read your emails and flag them for you to reply (general rule at my company is admins get full calendar access for the calendars of the people they support but email access is given at the discretion of the leader).
    The more I know the better I can support! Confidential projects are especially helpful to know so that I can prioritize meetings that are must attend or nice to attend.
    Also if your company ever does trips with spouses invited, just send me all the info on your spouse too (date of birth, airline numbers, TSA, the works)
    And if I text you…I want a response ASAP

    The leaders I support are amazing, they’re super respectful of my time, workload and thank me regularly. If I had to, I actually would say middle managers who don’t have admin support look down on myself and my team but the leaders who do have admin support generally treat us like peers which is an interesting dynamic to say the least.

    1. Living that Corporate Life*

      Oh, one other detail that is interesting about admin teams at my company: we report to an admin supervisor and do not report to any of the people we support which makes the relationship between admin and leader really different! They’re able to be very real/honest with us because we aren’t a direct report or a true peer or a boss of theirs. They can be more relaxed with us and have someone to say to, “what in the world…”

    2. Ally McBeal*

      I thought having access to my bosses’ email accounts would be a nightmare but it was so necessary. At my last admin job before switching careers, I rotated among 4 or 5 bosses who traveled extensively; two were absolute disasters until they gave me email access; the others didn’t give me access so I had to field significantly more phone calls from their clients, who had learned over time that email inboxes are black holes for people who travel 2-5 days per week.

  49. Yellow*

    Give your family members the number to your direct line. Taking your personal calls is not part of my job.

    1. Raine*

      Corollary to that: don’t tell your family members that I will find you when you’re in a meeting. I might not even be in the same building and can’t spare the time.

      Also, for the love of all that’s holy: don’t volunteer me to help your child with their homework. That’s your job as a parent.

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      And don’t give out the office number and have people ringing it for your SPOUSE! I remember having one particularly confused conversation once with someone who kept asking for “Cecil Mongoose” and wouldn’t have it that there was no Cecil working there (I was fairly new at the time, didn’t know that particular coworker’s husband was called Cecil, we were short staffed anyway which didn’t help, and the real last name was a very common one). I’m not sure how many times I said he didn’t work there before she eventually said “This is X Estate Agents” and I eventually remembered that PERSEPHONE Mongoose was selling her house – but I could very easily not have known that!

  50. Owlet101*

    Please don’t make me chase you down. If you have the company credit card and you’re not supposed to have it overnight PLEASE DO NOT MAKE ME CALL OR EMAIL to “remind” you to return it.

    I have deadlines for things I set for a reason. If you send me something 2 days past that deadline it might not make it into the report.

  51. debbietrash*

    I’m sure I’m about to echo a lot of what folks have already said, but it’s been a gong show at work lately, so I’m taking this opportunity to do some venting/catharsis.

    Value the labour and knowledge of admin assistants and EAs. Full stop. I work in medical research, so I support a lot of highly educated, specially skilled folks. That does not mean that my skills and knowledge aren’t also highly valuable. A lot of the folks I support are very kind and respectful, and know what my role entails, but there are also some who through their words and actions communicate otherwise.

    Also, when I explicitly say in my email “I’ll follow up when I know more,” please trust that I will. If I haven’t gotten back to you on non-urgent matters after a couple of days, I do appreciate the nudge. But when I email you on a Monday please don’t follow up with me on Tuesday.

  52. kiss my acetone*

    This is very specific to my old admin role which I was in for a good number of years, but maybe others can relate. What I really wanted stems from basic consideration and respect as to my part in a work process. Often times, our piece is overlooked when managers are developing new procedures or evaluating how long something should take.

    As an example, if I’m the last person handling something my department produces, managers must build in the time for me to do my segment of the work. Just because a report or invoice has been “approved” doesn’t mean there’s no more work to be done. That lack of consideration for the final leg of the race was what had me regularly staying late waiting for an entire month’s worth of external reports to be reviewed because a manager took the 5PM deadline to mean, “I can start reviewing these right before 5”. It communicates that what I’m doing (figuring out where reports are delivered, which method/submission portal, which support to include/exclude, who to notify after submission, where to file reports, updating internal records, etc.) is not important enough to bother thinking about.

    1. Seriously take a seat*

      YES. I’m not admin exactly but the back office/operation side of a business, so we’re the last in line of many processes. Just because YOU finished YOUR piece doesn’t mean there is no more work to do! That attitude alone has caused a lot of my daydreaming about pitching something at people’s heads.

  53. Rosie*

    1) More money. Also prioritise reimbursing my expenses because I make less than everyone else and can’t afford to lend the company money.
    2) I work with the team, not for the team. When I am excluded from strategic conversations, planning meetings or even the lunch run you are making a loud statement about whose contribution has value.
    3) Do not let the interns condescend to me. When they do and I put them in their place, have my back.
    4) When you tell me I don’t deserve a bonus because I am a cost sink, enjoy having to hire three people to replace me.
    5) Respect my time management skills, the fact I am working across the entire team, and also my physical stuff (snoop through my desk drawers or help yourself to my things and I’ll hate you forever).
    6) Do not ever say I’m the person really in charge. It just means you feel guilty about the fact you don’t do the other things on this list.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I don’t deserve a bonus because I am a cost sink

      Excuse me?

      If you think I’m a cost sink you’re welcome to spend your own time doing all the things I do, yourself.

      1. London Calling*

        I worked in a bank back office supporting salesmen who had this attitude. One day I asked one of them if he thought that deals processed themselves and if they realised exactly what we did and took him through it, step by step. ‘This is what would happen – or rather WOULDN’T happen if you didn’t have a back office, Alan.’

          1. London Calling*

            Don’t think he did. He was a pompous old fart who thought women had nothing to say that was worth listening to, and certainly not if that woman was in the back office.

      2. debbietrash*

        This! One of the researchers I support (who has been in his role for 15+ years) is going through it right now because he doesn’t have an admin person, but thinks an admin person is a “waste of money”. Yet he complains that his team spends too much, and how will he reign them in?
        Either hire an admin person to keep your team in check and stay on top of your admin matters, or accept that you need to be a more firm manager to your team, in addition to your research. *fed up shrugging emoji*

  54. sorta admin*

    Pay us well, and offer adequate benefits such as PTO and WFH. Respect our work, and not in a patronizing way; what we do is skilled, requires tact, and is often difficult. Tell us the information we need to know to do our jobs. Don’t make us send 10 reminders about a task that takes 7 minutes out of your day. Respect the deadlines we set. Update your calendar. Offer us professional development and a path to advancement; our admin skills could make us valuable in other areas, but we get pigeonholed. Basically, treat us as workers whose duties are important to the company, because they are!

  55. Baby Boomer*

    I so agree with that one. Something similar:
    They know they need to submit a PR ( Purchase Request) before making it for reimbursement. They make the purchase; have me still submit the paperwork and I’m the one called on the carpet because we are not following procedures. And they continue doing it. For years they still reimbursed this one faculty member but I would be the one in trouble over it. Well they stopped. He’s lost out on a $700 reimbursement recently. The last two years they have started denying it; and he still tries to work around it.

    Another – I know the budget, purchasing and travel procedures. I’ve been here 2o years. Do not tell me call someone to confirm what I just said. You are wasting my time and theirs. I finally started telling them the name of the individual that wanted me to make the call. Otherwise it looks like I do not know which end my aZZ is on.

  56. Systems A Go*

    1. Accept or decline a meeting invite. Don’t just leave it in your calendar when you know you are not attending. I may need to adjust the agenda, reschedule the meeting or tell the Chair you are absent BEFORE the meeting starts.
    2. Don’t tell me 60 seconds before an in-person meeting starts that you want to Zoom in. Depending on location, trying to find a room to accommodate both is impossible on short notice.
    2. If you didn’t do one of your action items, don’t act shocked that it was assigned to you. We were in the same meeting and it was. Just say you didn’t do it or you are “still working on it” . Don’t pretend I misconstrued the discussion and assigned it to you in error.
    3. Do not discount my knowledge of previous rollouts, org restructures or policy. I have been here longer than you and likely know all the in and outs of the decision.
    4. Most of us have a relationship with the boss that you can never have. We are their counselors, confidents and sounding boards. Our “opinion” can go a long way.
    5. Respond to any emails I send you requesting information. I am asking for OUR boss, not just for the sake of it.

  57. Anonymous cat*

    Don’t steal from my desk! The things on my desk are tools that I need to do my job! Don’t think that because I’m an assistant I don’t do “real” work. Don’t assume everything on my desk is yours for the taking.

    I’m not talking just about food. I mean ANYTHING on my desk or in the cubicle.

    My boss wanted me to do some catalog work with several samples. I was doing this and paused to go to the restroom. When I came back, all the samples were gone! I had to tell my boss I couldn’t finish the task until more samples came in.

    I later caught someone in the act of taking a sample. “Oh, can I take this?”
    Me: No, I need it for MY work!
    (Person had their own assistant to order their samples.)

    1. Starscourge Savvy*

      I HATE this so much. My desk is my desk! My thing are my things! If you need something, ask.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yes! This isn’t so much an issue at my current job, but it was a huge issue at the last one. THERE IS A SUPPLY CLOSET. IT IS NOT ANY FARTHER AWAY. GET A ROLL OF TAPE FROM THE 10 ROLLS OF TAPE IN THERE INSTEAD OF STEALING MY WHOLE-ASS DISPENSER.

  58. TrixieD*

    I’m the office manager for an office of ~30 people. Not the office Janitor. The office Manager. Basically head admin.

    In the past, I’ve sent out all-call emails and posted notes when things in the office are looking a little worse for wear (food splattered in the microwave, messes in the restroom, etc.) Today was one for the record books. I went into our two-seater women’s restroom and one of the toilets had a USED TOILET SEAT COVER on it, along with the…material…that had been expelled during its use.

    I’m freaking dumbfounded. These are adults here—the youngest person is probably in their mid-20s, and that’s a man, baby, so they weren’t in the ladies’ room. I also had the distinct displeasure of wiping up coffee mug rings, disposing of used staples that were scattered in the copy room, and getting stabbed by a pushpin (because someone thought placing it in the box with the paper clips was a good idea). And that’s JUST today.

    THIS admin wants people to take responsibility for their actions and their messes. Some days, it feels like I’m running a daycare instead of a professional office.

    1. rayray*

      I’ve said to many people before that I was shocked to see how people behaved once I worked in an office where people actually had job titles such as Executive/Admin assistant. Some people just immediately become helpless act like infants once there is an assistant around. Pretending they don’t know how to start a coffee pot, leaving garbage behind in the conference room like a lazy slob, acting as if a copy machine is too complex so they walk past it and demand the assistant make copies….it’s so absurd.

    2. merida*

      Yes to all of this! Why can’t all offices function like normal life – you mess it up, you clean it up? Or am the only one whose personal life works like that and everyone else has a maid follow them around? lol

  59. onetimethishappened*

    If I support an entire department and you throw said department a Holiday dinner at a nice restaurant… please invite me. Also don’t wait until the day of to remember you forgot to invite me and then invite me.

    Its’ not like I speak from experience or anything.

  60. Frustrated Front Desk*

    I would like someone to offer to cover reception so I could join a potluck or luncheon.

    Most of my company’s team-building is built around team lunches, sometimes company-wide, and other times office and production on separate days. We have them about twice a month. Everyone loads up their plates and heads into a conference room and eats together and it sounds like they have a wonderful time. I load up my plate and head back to work because without someone to cover for me, I can’t be more than 30 seconds away from my desk. In fact, I usually have to postpone my lunch break until after the luncheon because not only is my backup in the conference room with everyone else, I’m the backup for the customer service department’s call queue. Trying to be part of the group and on duty at the same time just doesn’t work. I don’t want to sound bitter, because I understand it’s just part of the job, but everyone taking their lunch break at the same time doesn’t mean vendors won’t show up and customers won’t call. The warehouse is in a similar situation, where it’s just not an option not to have coverage when a truck shows up, but they can at least arrange among themselves to join the lunch in shifts. At this point, most of my coworkers take for granted that I’m not a joiner, but I don’t really have the option. As much as my managers keep telling me I’m a valued member of the team blah-blah-blah, it doesn’t feel like it when I’m necessarily excluded from 90% of the team-building. I understand that it’s part of the job I signed up for, but I would still like it if someone finished eating and then came out and made the offer. Just once. I would probably turn it down, but the gesture would mean the world to me.

    On the plus side, I don’t have to serve my coworkers or clean up their mess.

    1. Cards fan*

      In my former office, they would hire one of our retired receptionists to cover the front desk during any all-staff meetings, lunches, celebrations. It gave us a chance to catch up with the retiree, and gave us a chance to truly have an all-staff meeting.

    2. Millie Mayhem*

      Wow, I’m sorry – this really sucks! It seems like at the very least your manager could offer to cover the desk for a bit so you can actually participate.

  61. Anonymous cat*

    If you have me organize a meeting, show up! Do you know how awful it is to sit there with everyone getting annoyed and needing to discuss things and you never come?

    And if something happens last minute and you have to cancel and tell me to reschedule, don’t then blame me for “not having meetings” and information being missing because we didn’t have the meeting(s) you didn’t attend.

    It’s your call how you spend your time, but don’t blame me for the gaps you cause.

  62. AA Baby Boomer*

    I have a similar one.

    When do I get paid? I have approximately 45 hourly employees. I give them the a copy & the link to the pay schedule the first week of employment. It’s on the Payroll Web Page.

    —- I tell then to look it up; and where to go. They want me to look it up. I don’t. I have started using the excuse that I’m in a middle of something if they push it.

    I used to chase them down the morning that the time card entry locks up reminding them to complete & start their time card. I no longer do it. If they miss it; it’s on them. Payroll sends out a reminder email the day before or the morning of the time card entry deadline. I have 2 employees that miss their deadline at least once a month. I had 4 missed the last deadline. One of them wanted me to walk their time card through for them. You missed it; you do the leg work.

    I’m having to learn to “not to take ownership” of responsibilities that truly aren’t mine. I’ll follow up with their direct supervisor if I’m not seeing time submission 2 – 3 times in a row. Just want to make sure they haven’t quit & noone told me.

  63. beanie gee*

    Don’t limit “appreciating your admins” to one day a year. Find ways to show you appreciate them year round.

    One thing I’ve been trying to do lately is be more specific when giving positive feedback. I tend to say “you’re the best” or “you’re awesome” too much, which can start to feel meaningless or disingenuous pretty fast. Instead I’ve been trying to say stuff like
    -“Thank you for running that meeting so effectively. I really appreciate how organized and prepared you are, which makes things run so smoothly.”
    -“You handled that very tricky situation with [person] so well. I appreciate how you stay calm under pressure.”
    -“Thank you for handling last week’s event so well. I know it was outside of your regular duties. If you’re interested in more work like let me know if you’d like more responsibility for other aspects of the company.”

    1. Correlation is not causation*

      Yes – THIS.
      As I explained to my last boss ( I wasn’t even an admin, but she insisted that I do ‘admin like stuff’ ) buying grocery store flowers once a year is not a get out of jail free card for the other 364 days a year.
      I resent the flowers because of what they represent – it is patronizing and ridiculous to think that we should all be grateful for flowers over respect and a reasonable wage.

  64. LR*

    Seconding the deadlines item and adding:

    1. Treat me like a full co-worker not a last minute thought and NOT “magic”.
    2. Bookmark links I send- Please stop asking me for the same information over and over, I’m not Siri/Alexa/Cortana (And no they’re not about to replace me soon either)
    3. Clean up after yourself- You’re an adult in a shared space. Don’t leave messes for the Admins to clean up, especially food and drink spills when we order catering for your meetings. We’re already setting it up and putting it away.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I am honestly shocked at how many people deliberately ignore my instructions to bookmark certain things.

    2. Kelly L.*

      And if it’s ostensibly in my honor, like for administrative professionals’ day or my birthday, definitely clean it up instead of leaving it for me lol!

  65. Assistant for Eternity*

    Trust me.

    I work with lawyers. Dealing with new associates is always a challenge. But I can guarantee that I know more about the office procedures, court procedures and particular peccadillos of the partner I work for than you. So if I’m taking time out of my day to explain something to you? Please, trust me that I’m right and let me help you.

    Otherwise I will let you do it wrong.

    1. Anonymous Admin*

      Former legal assistant here. Yeah. You don’t want me to let you do it wrong, Oh Arrogant Recent Ivy-League Grad. But I surely will if you act like a bit player on Mad Men.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And you know Joan would watch them fall on their face with a calm and even smile.

    2. Legal Assistant Lily*

      Ugh, why are some new associates like this? Yes, you have a shiny new law degree, but I’ve got years more of experience in actual litigation. There’s a reason why the senior partners ask me about court procedures.

      1. Never Boring*

        I had to restrain myself from throttling a newly hired associate once when she expressed amazement that the partner treated me “almost like a junior associate or something!” Well, yeah, the partner knows that it doesn’t require a law degree to do what I have been doing for 20+ years and you don’t have a clue how to do yet. And which comprises the bulk of the actual substantive work that our team does. Because the partner has sense.

    3. Not_a_Newb*

      Amen and hallelujah.

      I worked in a small office of one of the top 3 largest firms in the world. The managing partner made it very clear that every.single.person. in that office was valued, we were all on the same team, that partners were nothing without the people in the mail room too. It wasn’t until I left and found out that it was not like that everywhere that I realized how special that office was in that era. Thanks, Bill, for not making me feel less-than.

  66. Correlation is not causation*

    1 – I am not your GIRL. Do not tell people to call your GIRL to set things up.
    2 – Unless I am an PA, I am not there to make your life easier, I am there to make the office run smoothly.
    3 – If you don’t follow the established procedures, that everyone else in the office manages to follow – the problem lies with you and I will not be changing the procedure.
    4 – Your mistakes are not my fault. It is never ok to blame the admin because you didn’t get your time sheet in on time or you expense report is wrong.
    5 – I’m not going to lie to make you look good, so don’t lie to make me look bad.
    6 – and yeah – PAY ME A REASONABLE WAGE!!!

    1. merida*

      omg, yuck!!! I can’t believe people still call admins “the girl???” What century are we living in

  67. E*

    I’m not an admin assistant, but I provide a lot of admin support in my current job and in previous jobs under the catch all of “operations” or “[team] assistant/coordinator/associate”. My big things are:

    Read email. Read the policies and procedures. Follow the directions. Try following the directions before you ask for help! And don’t treat admin tasks as separate from your work — submitting receipts, doing your timesheet, communicating so your colleagues can manage your calendar or travel or whatever are part of the work, part of the job.

    And if I say “this person isn’t following the directions” the response shouldn’t’ be “well this process is really confusing for staff” if it’s just one person who’s confused because she didn’t read the directions! Not every admin problem is a problem with the process, sometimes it’s just a particular person being an absolute pill. There’s only so much admin support can do to solve a problem if people aren’t reading and communicating and making at least a minimal effort!

    Clearly I’m a little frustrated with one of my colleagues right now lol

  68. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

    I have been very lucky that in my role I am EXTREMLY appreciated. I’ve even been told by my directer “please don’t leave. We understand if you did but we really appreicate you.” They often will give me a note or something, or buy a coffee showing that the care. It’s higher ed so there’s nothing they can do for wages, PTO, etc as that is determined by the board of directors at the system level.

    I will say that it was lovely when I was nominated and won an employee recognition award. It was nothing more than a certificate but it was wonderful to see the entire university saw my contributions.

    I would say basic respect and acknowledgment does go a long way. Also felxibility. Everyone else in my department is salaried, so they have a bit more flexibility, but whenever possible my supervisor and director do what they can. They don’t hassle me about being a little late or needing to leave a little early. They allowed me to shift my schedule by 15 minutes, even though the official time per the university should be earlier. I get a full 1-hour lunch like the rest of the salaried team, even though the university only allows hourly people to get 45 minutes.

  69. Not Your Secretary*

    Professional development and a career ladder to progress. When every other role has opportunity for advancement and promotion but the administrative professionals do not, that’s exclusion.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        My professional association (International Management Assistants) has an annual conference and training days. Would my boss pay for it? No, since I was an assistant.

        I prefer to say Administrative Support Professional.

  70. KDO*

    Being an admin made me a pretty world class negotiator. I’m a software engineer now and never, ever underestimate admins. They know everything and often see the big picture when others don’t. Being respected and trusted makes a huge difference. Being rude and dismissive to an admin are unacceptable behavior yet so many treat admins as expendable. Pay them well and trust them with important things.

  71. Lemonbalm*

    I worked as an admin assistant for many years. One thing I would have liked was the understanding and respect for the job.

    People think that scheduling meetings is easy. Not always. When dealing with C Suite and egos it can be incredibly challenging. Who’s time is most important, what other dynamics are going on between people. Admins are experts at relationship and time management.

    Not only do you have to know your job, but the job of the person/people you support and all the other random things people do not care to understand, but expect you to and to teach them when they need it.

    For example, I supported a CFO, controller 2 other directors and everyone under them. I was expected to know exactly what was happening on all the teams. It was a lot of work. I helped with everything from vendor management to asset management to scheduling to proofreading to managing onboarding and off-boarding to office supplies and knowing how the printer worked and fixing it when it was not working to reviewing every company cell phone bill and signing off on them or following up with them for overages (over 100 ppl each month…), plus meeting minutes.

    The lack of respect for my time was astounding. I would often be chastised for not being at my desk (I was often in a meeting with one of the teams) or not fast enough. People would sit on work for weeks and then think I could drop everything and get it done when they needed it.

    Good bosses know a good admin is everything. I often forget that the admins know EVERYTHING.
    They often have a lot more influence than people realize.

    I have so many stories of good and bad bosses. But I’ll share this one. Don’t make your admin be responsible for admin professionals day or huddle outside their cubicle and talk about how you all forgot and should do something now, when they are sitting at their desk… Also remember their birthday, especially when they are usually the ones to remember and organize everyone else’s. It really sucks when your birthday is completely forgotten about and you’re working.

  72. SpecialSpecialist*

    Former admin here…

    A) Take responsibility for your own stuff. Don’t foist it off on the admin and then throw them under the bus when you get in trouble for not doing it right/on-time/etc.
    B) Pay your admin more and just let them do everything. They’ll do it better than you, on time, and in half the time anyway.

  73. Jealous of the Wateer*

    Respect, money, and flexibility! I am a paralegal for an attorney/business owner who values my opinion and makes me feel like we are a team. The job is by no means perfect, but I am well-paid and have tremendous flexibility with my schedule. Those benefits make me much more willing to put up with the frustrating aspects of my job and make me unlikely to take a job elsewhere.

  74. Anon this time*

    Don’t be a hypocrite. I work with an attorney who presents herself as a major feminist/progressive, but treats the support staff badly, including trying to dump a ton of work on the front desk that should be done by the paralegal (who she treats really well). As the office administrator I have had some success by pushing back and telling her that these are things she needs to be asking the paralegal to do instead of dumping it on the front desk person.

    She is also a procrastinator who expects poor planning on her part to be an emergency on our part. It’s clear she does not respect the time of the support staff.

    If you don’t respect support staff, don’t expect them to bend over backwards for you.

  75. Admin No More*

    What I really wanted (I left careers because I just couldn’t be treated like garbage anymore) was to be treated like an equal member of the team with ample education and credentials, sometimes more than my executives, and not a scapegoat. It’s not my fault if your flight is canceled or if the car rentals didn’t have the car you wanted. When I ask you not to park by the receiving side and block the delivery lane, I’m not asking for fun or to inconvenience everyone – I’m asking because all of you have ticked off the delivery contractor to the point where I get screamed at and they’re threatening to drop our contract. I’m asking for receipts because none of you bring in receipts after using petty cash and I’ve been accused of misappropriation of funds to the point my career was in question. I’m asking you to plan your own birthdays, or better yet, make like 3rd grade and bring in your own cupcakes, remember your own anniversaries, plan your own luncheons, and stop asking for emotional and affirming labor from me when you’re just going to turn around and blame me if something isn’t to your liking. Pay us what we’re worth, treat us like the educated and highly credentialed subject matter experts we are, and above all, get your own coffe.

  76. Lucy*

    Haven’t seen this one yet: admins are entitled to disability accommodation just like everyone else. Just because it makes you feel more ~secure~ to have butts in seats in the office building, that doesn’t mean no admin tasks can ever be done remotely. If the office is hybrid, it sure sends a message when the admin is required to come in every day, physically… just to send emails.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “If the office is hybrid, it sure sends a message when the admin is required to come in every day, physically… just to send emails”

      A million times YES to this one!

    2. merida*

      Yesss. I work in a hybrid office and am allowed to WFH but I seem to be the only one who gets chided for not coming to work. Multiple coworkers make passive aggressive comments about me taking a day off if I was working from home… when they come in maybe once a month. Hmm.

    3. Good Wilhelmina Hunting*

      Speaking of disabilities, admins can be non-neurotypical too. It’s hypocritical for the org. to burnish its diversity and inclusion credentials when those standards are only applied to fee earners. ND lawyer, well, he’s an eccentric old sort. ND admin…hmmmm, not a team fit.

  77. Jojo*

    I was sitting in a program management class and the instructor asked us who the most important person was to build a good relationship with. It’s the admin. They control access to management, they can influence management, and they can typically make things happen that no one else can.

    The number of surprised faces was pretty sad, but not surprising the way many people speak to our admins. I’m not an admin, but I work closely with several, and they basically keep things running from behind the scenes. You should treat everyone with respect, but if you can’t figure that out, at least realize that it’s best not to tick off the people who make things happen.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “You should treat everyone with respect, but if you can’t figure that out, at least realize that it’s best not to tick off the people who make things happen.”

      I cannot believe the number of people who don’t get this! It seems so obvious.

      Everyone I support gets a baseline of competent help. But the people who are warm and kind, and who treat me with respect – I’ll totally go above and beyond to help them, every time! I’ll look out for them and proactively find ways to make their work lives easier.

      Whereas people who are dismissive or disrespectful are getting the bare minimum. It’s weird that more people don’t fathom this….

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Right? They are literally pissing off their quartermaster and armorer, then not connecting that to why they’re barefoot and hungry on the battlefield, with an empty gun.

  78. Goldenrod*

    ” I wanted the boundaries of my job to be clearly defined and respected. There was an attitude that I would just do EVERYONE’S admin work, or get other people’s lunch”

    YES to this! Also yes to not being a punching bag. It’s not our jobs to manage the boss’ emotions or predict their moods.

    I would also add to all the great suggestions here, be available for clarification and follow-up questions is your request is vague. Better yet, don’t make vague requests! For example, if you are requesting a meeting, I’m always going to need the desired meeting length, subject, and names of participants. Don’t make me extract this information out of you piecemeal, just provide it up front.

    On a similar subject, don’t expect us to mind read. Communication is a two-way street. I can only be helpful to the extent that you give me the tools/info that I need to help you.

    Also, only point out my mistakes when it’s truly a learning opportunity. If I don’t understand a process correctly, or there is a pattern of mistakes, of course we need to talk. But the best bosses I ever had would let little mistakes go, understanding that it was a “one off” and that pointing it out would serve no purpose other than to make me feel bad. A few times, when I realized later that I’d made some mistake and they had let it go, I felt so supported and respected.

    The worst bosses point out EVERY SINGLE ERROR, no matter how small, and never let you forget it. The good ones understand that when your whole job is managing details, it’s normal to occasionally make mistakes. As someone commented above, with EA work, each little task isn’t usually difficult in and of itself, but it’s the sheer VOLUME of tiny tasks that can make the job hard.

  79. Bun Bun Babbin*

    Respect!! Holy sweet zombie jesus.

    Listen to me when I give an answer, and take it at face value. If I don’t know, I will look into it for you. Speak to me like I’m a person maybe? I’m not a child, nor am I stupid because I am doing work you deem lowly. Be mindful of my time! I leave at the same time every day, so don’t give me work 5 minutes before I go. AND PAY ME WHAT I’M WORTH. Admin’s are always severely underpaid, and have less vacation (usually). So don’t gripe to me about how hard my job is when I’m away, and then in the next sentence complain about your low bonus or how will you ever use up all 6 weeks of vacation.

    Every time they complain, I say, “Oh would you like to switch salaries and vacation? If you’re not happy with it, I’ll be more than glad to take it off your hands.” Doesn’t always stop them from complaining again, but it temporarily shames them.

  80. Mint Berry Crunch*

    I’d like to not be the default person to do any random task. “Mint Berry Crunch will do it”.

    1. merida*

      I so feel this. My boss has admitted that my job has become “a dumping ground” for the random work other people don’t want to do… and then continues to uphold that tradition.

    2. Kelly L.*

      One of my peeves is when someone says “I’ll have Kelly do X” when I’m right there. It makes me feel like a Roomba. At least go through the motions of asking me to.

      1. Raine*

        I hated that so much when I temped. “Let’s get the temp to do this.” I have a name, I’m sitting *right* here…..

  81. Decaf Today*

    Promote us. Give us raises. Pay us a liveable wage. The number of times I was told in the nine years I was an EA that I was “perfect” for another higher paying, lower stress role but “couldn’t be spared” literally crushed me.

  82. CV*

    When I had that job, I didn’t know what I needed most as an admin: for my boss to stop lying to all the other VPs that the reason he didn’t have whatever report/chart/info was because I hadn’t done what he asked me to do.

    I hope they figured out that this was bulls—- because someone as incompetent as he was alleging should have been fired, not promoted as I eventually was. (I found out a couple years later.)

  83. allhailtheboi*

    I’m an administrator, not a receptionist.

    My last boss occasionally introduced me to other people as “allhailtheboi, our receptionist”, which was particularly annoying because of the amount of organisational I provided to her alone!

    Also I’m not denigrating receptionists, I was one. But when I run the day to day operations of the office, I’d like people to know who I am!

  84. New Senior Mgr*

    I give certificates of a free (paid) day off to be used anytime except day before or after holidays.

  85. LIZZIE*

    Respect. Not just for my abilities, but my time. I’m not an admin anymore, but I once worked in a corp. legal dept. One attorney I worked for had a habit of coming in 2-3 hours after my start time (which was set in stone and not negotiable), and stay very late. In turn, she would expect ME to conform to her hours. I did initially, but then got sick of it, as she would also hide in her office literally all day, and “come to life” an hour before I was supposed to leave.
    I finally started telling her nicely that I wasn’t able to stay, and what were her priorities for that day

  86. Swift*

    Admin assistant here. What I really appreciate at my current workplace besides the living wage is that most people close the loop by saying thank you. That lets me know they don’t need anything else and I can cross it off my list. More importantly, it’s easy for this type of job to be literally thankless. It just makes me feel appreciated.

    1. merida*

      Yes! The number of times I get a frantic call/email saying that someone needs me to do a last minute task (a task that normally takes hours) within the next 5 minutes because they forgot to plan, I drop everything to make it happen and send over the final materials when they’re ready, and then… I never hear from them again. Until the next time they forget to plan and need me to do something. Over and over again.

  87. SuperAdmin*

    1) Don’t ask me for things at the last minute. Your training has already started, no I can’t have IT come in and redo all your entire meeting room computer set-up because you didn’t think to ask for it in advance.

    2) Include me in things. I’m part of the team, so include me in meetings, team building, and never ever ask me to set up a team lunch that I’m then not invited to.

    3) I deserve career development too. Whether it’s training to be able to do my job better (Microsoft Office skills, data skills, etc.) or an actual career path to move into another role, I deserve a training budget and development plan just like everyone else.

  88. Rose*

    If you’re paying an admin to coordinate something that’s federally regulated, like grants or medical credentials or something, that needs to be reflected in the pay.

  89. Bunny Girl*

    Go have your tantrum somewhere else – I am an office support person, not an emotional support person.

  90. Temperance*

    Speaking as a former admin: if your admin has career aspirations beyond making your copies or whatever, don’t try to limit their potential because they’re good at menial tasks.

    And if your clients are abusing the receptionist, call them out. They’re far nicer to you than us, and when I see someone come out of your meeting room who SEES me on the phone and demands that I call them a cab and shouts the details WHILE I’M TALKING TO SOMEONE ELSE ON THE PHONE, do something!

  91. Name*

    Read the email. Take time to understand what I said. Then respond. It takes everything and then some to put all the info in an email, get a reply that asks everything I put in the email, and not respond with “if you took a minute to read the email I sent, you would see that all your questions were addressed”. Instead, it requires a reply that reiterates the info in a new way and doesn’t make you feel like an idiot.

  92. Aphrodite*

    Promotional opportunities. Upward movement. Mentoring. Training. Workshops and Seminars. The freedom and respect that comes with management not just knowing but thoroughly understanding how experienced and knowledgeable admins actually are and thus aggressively willing to promote from within that group.

  93. Alexis Rose*

    I got a job as an EA for my former graduate supervisor (so this was in academia). I had graduated with a master’s degree about 6 months prior and had been doing contracts here and there, he knew I was looking for work, he needed an assistant, we worked well together, he knew I might leave at any time if I got another job offer, it was a perfect setup.

    In the beginning, most people didn’t’ know the level of education I had. They treated me the same way they treated all the other admins: a less important plebian support role whose job existed only to facilitate THEIR jobs. Not everyone, many of the profs were kind and warm and respectful even before they found out I had almost as many degrees as they did. However, I was appalled and disgusted by the change in demeanor of many of the academics who, upon realizing I had a masters, started treating me more like an equal/someone worth their time to speak to. It was an almost immediate change in their demeanor and it was gross.

    So, as a former admin/EA: treat the humans you work with as humans, regardless of how much seniority, responsibility, or prestige you attribute to their role.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I used to work in a support role in academia and the number of faculty members who treat you like crap because you don’t have an advanced degree is mind boggling. Especially since like 2/3 of them couldn’t turn on their own computer.

    2. Goldenrod*

      “However, I was appalled and disgusted by the change in demeanor of many of the academics who, upon realizing I had a masters, started treating me more like an equal/someone worth their time to speak to.”

      Gross. I had a similar thing happen in an office supporting professors when I transistioned from temp to permanent position. I never forgot which professors were kind and friendly from Day 1, and which ones instantly changed their tune the minute I wasn’t “just the temp” aka someone they could completely ignore.

  94. Feddie*

    What I would absolutely love is to not be responsible for my own gift on Secretary’s day. I’ve written speeches for people to give at All Hands about the important work I do. I’ve drafted emails to be sent out to all staff. I’ve put together special gift baskets for myself and coworkers. I’m tired. Just, stop by my desk and thank me sincerely for the work I’ve done to make your job easier. If you can, give specific examples from the year so I can use it in my performance review. And, if you’re really feeling up to it, take me out for Starbucks or lunch.

  95. Memily*

    Used to be an admin, now admin-adjacent (accounts payable).

    1. Fill out the form. Yes, the entire thing. It’s that way for a reason.
    2. We have processes. We are also a multi-billion dollar organization. No, I cannot get you a check today because you didn’t remember to submit it for approval early enough. Follow the processes.
    3. I AM NOT PSYCHIC. If you want something, use your words like a grown up and I’m happy to help you.
    4. If you are a jerk or a pest you better believe I’m not lifting one damn finger to help you. Figure it out yourself.
    5. It’s not rocket science. I’ll admit some of our processes aren’t the most user friendly and I’m happy to help through those, but seriously, try to work it out on your own first. I can’t hold you hand through the process every time.

    1. London Calling*

      Also accounts payable and all of those, especially 4. I’ll add one – if, despite reminders, you cannot get your expenses in on time, do not go running to the CFO to whine and get him to authorise another payment when you’ve been told EVERY MONTH what the cut off date is. Giving me and the rest of the team more work doesn’t make friends for you.

  96. Art3mis*

    I was an AA for about 10 years and I wasn’t very good at it. So honest feedback from the people I support and help on what to do and how to do it from my fellow AAs. I always feel like I was left to figure everything out on my own and I didn’t know how to ask.

  97. Portia*

    What I wanted in the years I did admin work was to be treated like just another member of the team.

    Not special, not different, not a “jewel,” not a necessary evil, not a mommy or a teacher or a dumping ground or a nuisance whose job was to pester the people who do the real work. Just a co-worker, like everybody else.

  98. Viv*

    To add to all of the above – 1) please don’t brag and boast about your latest trip to Italy, Morocco or Thailand at every team lunch! I would appreciate it if you asked me about my life sometimes, too. As a former admin, I can testify that unfortunately I worked with wealthy young people who spent team lunches constantly bragging about their trips to exotic places, resulting in me having nothing in common to talk about with them and feeling excluded. It became so bad that my big boss had to beg me to go to team lunches, because I would find excuses not to attend.

    Also, my bragging colleagues hardly ever (I’m being generous here) asked me about my life or how I was or what I was doing. When I invited them to my choir concerts (I am a singer), they did not seem to have much interest at all (one did come, but her spouse enjoyed it much more than she did). I was astounded as I had never worked with people with whom I had so little in common, and who did not seem to have any interest in any creative pursuits like art, writing, or music. They were of course, addicted to Game of Thrones.

    2) The other thing I noticed was that after awhile, my little boss seemed comfortable with me staying in my position. Even though I was eager to grow and advance in my career, he seemed to want me to stay put and did not try to develop me or my skills at all. I couldn’t understand this mindset and was glad that he was not my main boss. When the opportunity came to escape to a better position, I did.

    3) When I went on maternity leave, instead of getting flowers from my team, I heard nothing. I know this is a common scenario for admins because they are usually the ones who order flowers for others during special occasions. I later found out what happened was that my big boss shared my home address with my colleagues and asked them to send me a card. I was horrified as she had shared my personal information with them (a company policy no-no). Besides, I only received one card anyway. Later, when I returned to work, I had the feeling that my team actually resented me for being away (and adding to their workload). And how often did they ask me how the baby was doing? Rarely. In fact, my little boss only asked me twice about my daughter between seven years. And nine months after I returned to work, I had to explain to my big boss (who had no kids) why I left my desk often – to pump milk.

    Bottom line – if you work for a large wealthy corporation or professional firm as an admin, the money may be good, but be aware that you may end up supporting people who subtly look down on you and play social games that you are excluded from. Try not to make that job a career if you can.

    *PS – a good story to close out: Right before the pandemic, I happened to get into an office elevator with an Italian partner that I had not worked with in 6-7 years. He always had a tan and looked perfectly coiffed, plus he had those model looks, so you might assume that he was a snob, too. But that day, to my surprise, he asked, “how is your baby?” We laughed and chatted about our kids before we got off the elevator and went back to work. But he had made my day. Not surprisingly, he helps with a local charity now.

  99. JustMe*

    Not an admin assistant now but am good friends with the one in my office and have been one before.
    1) Your admins see how a lot of your business plays out in real life. They interact with the people you interview, they enforce a lot of client/customer related policies, they are the ones who have to manage complaints. You MUST regularly ask them for their feedback on what they are seeing and hearing. They are low on the food chain and often do not have the authority to say, “This new policy sucks and people are yelling at me because they don’t like it.”
    2) When you’re an admin, a lot of your problems are immediate. Someone is on the phone yelling; an order of 10,000 pineapples was dumped in front of your desk right before a big meeting with partners; the person in front of you is hysterical demanding to talk to the doctor, CEO, manager, etc. When they ask for help, they need help pretty urgently. Even if the answer is, “We can’t do anything, have them come back tomorrow,” they need to be told that right away.
    3) When you fall behind on your work, it affects them. Lately in my office, some of our higher ups have been slow in some of their deliverables. I have been trying to help our admin express to them that when they are late getting their work done, she is the one who has to field complaints. They can make the choice to say, “Oh I’m busy, I can’t pick up the phone, have them send an email,” but she can’t.

    My advice for life: befriend the admin assistants, accountants, custodians, and security guards. No one gives them the respect they deserve for the hard work they do and they are incredible allies to have.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “My advice for life: befriend the admin assistants, accountants, custodians, and security guards. No one gives them the respect they deserve for the hard work they do and they are incredible allies to have.”

      Yes to this! I always befriend the security guards in buildings where I work. Everyone should treat them as valuable colleagues. Not only does it just feel better to share a smile and a few friendly words, but in the event you forget your key card, they will let you in!

      (I remember watching a co-worker pleading with the security guard to let her in…he didn’t have any idea who she was….)

  100. Starscourge Savvy*

    Admin here! I’m going to second a lot of what’s already been said:

    1. Respect our working hours. My hours are (publicly posted!) 8-5, and I take an hour for lunch, during which I am marked as Away. This is common knowledge among my office. AND YET! I have folks frustrated with me on a regular basis because I am not immediately responding to their messages during my lunch, or that a task isn’t going to get done TODAY because they sent it to me at 4:57pm. In addition, when I’m marked as Out of the Office, I am OUT OF THE OFFICE.

    2. Respect our processes. Your task is not going to get pushed to my front of the line just because you’re impatient. If there’s a real emergency, let me know! But I have processes and schedules and priorities that deserve to be respected, and me not dropping everything to help you immediately isn’t a snub, it’s a process.

    3. Ask questions! If you don’t understand a process, or aren’t sure how to accomplish something or why things are a certain way, please just ask me! I can tell you exactly how I need you to format documents, which routes to send me certain tasks through, etc. Don’t guess! Your tasks will get done a lot faster if we are on the same page!

    4. Honestly, I don’t want to be treated as any different than any of our other team members. We work out of the same office, we are serving the same customers, and are all part of the same process. Just treat us like teammates and coworkers.

    5. Just be kind. Admin work can be incredibly taxing. In my office, we are Support Staff, and the understanding our supervisors try to push is this: Without its supports, the structure crumbles.

    1. Zap R.*

      My number lesson for new admins that I’m training is to always leave the building during lunch if they want to actually eat lunch. If you’re onsite, people will assume that you’re working.

  101. Lucy P*

    1. Act like an adult and clean up after yourself. I’m just as busy as you are and shouldn’t have to clean up your powdered creamer, Splenda, coffee, etc. by the coffee station. And when you wash your lunch dishes, empty the strainer in the sink.
    2. Instead of asking me if we have a certain supply, look in the supply closet first (you know, the one you’re standing right next to…just open the door and look).
    3. (Because I’m also tech support), if your password worked yesterday but doesn’t work today, try it a few more times before bugging me. Chances are you’re mis-typing it.

  102. Zap R.*

    1) Schedule fun events for times when I can actually attend. If I’m stuck watching the front desk or babysitting the phone while everyone else is at a potluck/trivia contest/teambuilding exercise/employee appreciation event, it feels really, really bad.

    2) CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF. The more time I have to spend putting your dishes in the dishwasher, wiping up your spilled coffee, or tucking in your chairs after a meeting, the less time I have to do my actual job. I can’t focus on running the office if I’m stuck spot-cleaning messes.

    3) Don’t ignore me! If I greet you when you pass through the lobby, please at least nod in my direction. I’m your colleague. Which brings me to my next point…

    4)I’M YOUR COLLEAGUE. I’m not your maid or your waitress or your concierge or your personal assistant. We are equals. We are both a vital part of the team. If you catch yourself thinking “This is too unpleasant/degrading/gross/tedious for X to do. Why don’t we ask Admin to do it?” have a long, hard think about why you jumped to that conclusion.

  103. Kranberries*

    I was the designated gift giver one year for the absolutely fantastic admin and I bought her a gift certificate to a local spa, she was thrilled. She came down and thanked me in person and shared that she HATED the flower arrangements she got every year prior. I had checked to make sure it was enough to cover a massage but gave a general gift certificate so she could get any treatment or product she wanted and I knew she used the spa because I’d seen her there (it’s a rural area).

  104. Anonomatopoeia*

    If you ask me for information where you don’t have much context and so you need me to provide that context, give me a sense of scope please. If you have already made a decision to do A, do not ask for my opinion about whether to do A, B, or C. If you need something within the scope(ish) of my job, and you don’t know how to do the thing, please ask for help, directions, or another way to not screw up a thing I will have to fix later. If the directions are literally written on the form, please do take a moment to see if you can just find out what you need from there.

    If you want me to do something a certain way, or actually just if you have an expectation I will do something, there should be an exchange of information which allows me to know that. If you are mad I didn’t do a thing (or do it a way), think back and determine whether you actually told me that before moving to correction mode. It’s okay to say you made an assumption that I would do X and golly next time please do it, but not to never tell me to do X and then holler about it.

    If you ask me to email you details about something, and I do, please make the effort to read and digest the email. It is OF COURSE okay to have questions or need clarifications or need more background, but it is disrespectful of my time to send 18 emails back and forth, one question at a time, such that by the end of the exchange I have reproduced the entirety of the original email and no additional information. Ditto coming and asking 18 questions, one by one, in person, over the span of an afternoon, to the same end.

    Trust. Me. Unless I have given you a reason not to, don’t go checking every detail all the time long past the point at which we are getting to know each other, ESPECIALLY if doing so will then make things not run on time and you will be annoyed at me about it, come ON. If you think I am not trustworthy, then we should deal with that, obviously, but that’s not the same problem.

    Tell me if I screw up, so that we can fix it. I am absolutely here for that, although I’d rather the telling were not delivered at a scream. Once we fix it, we can debrief if we need to; I do not prefer to screw up at all, but especially not the same way twice, so doing so is probably not a waste of time.

    Actually, everything not at a scream.

    If you are asking for something at the last minute, own any of that that’s because you didn’t plan, and/or tell me something that acknowledges you know I’m scrambling for reasons that are not my fault. I’m not delicate, and you don’t have to frame everything as an apology or anything, but just, “hey this just came up and I had no idea, what will you need to drop to accomplish this today?” or “Crap I just realized I never assigned you the task of handling this, but I totally need it today; how can we get this done?” goes a looooong way.

    Why no, I definitely do not have any opinions about this.

  105. EngineerMom*

    One of the most important lessons I learned from my parents (who were both college professors and had worked outside of academia): RESPECT THE ADMINS

    Good administrative assistants are worth their weight in gold- they have a huge amount of knowledge & expertise that can make an engineer’s, nurse’s, etc. life so much easier.

    Treating them with the respect they are due, listening when they tell you something, and making sure they understand you appreciate their work is really important. Admins have saved my bacon on more than one account, from keeping projects on track by making sure meetings included the right people, to figuring out who I need to contact to resolve a very time-sensitive issue, to helping me ship things out for repair in a way that didn’t break my budget.

    Love admins!

    1. Middle Aged Lady*

      My mom said the church secretary decides who goes to heaven.
      Respect the admins! I always follow that rule.

  106. Indubitably Delicious*

    Admin here.

    I solemnly swear by all that is holy that I have pared down the number of questions I am asking you in this email/survey/form to the bare minimum.

    If you ignore one or more of the questions, then all you have done is give me incomplete information and make me cranky.

  107. Le Vauteur*

    One thousand times yes to “Keep me in the loop”. I’d far, far rather know what you’re planning up front, rather than have to fix everything that’s not going to work further down the line.

    Do not drop last minute changes on me for anything that is remotely complex to organise. If I’ve previously said no to you, it’s for a good reason. If I’ve organised it, it will work.

    Communicate with me. I can only join the dots if I know the dots are there.

    Give me the access I need to your calendar. I don’t care if you have confidential stuff in there, part of my role is knowing when to keep my mouth shut.

    Please read the email properly and answer all the questions.

    Actually listen when I explain a new process and try and adhere to it. It’s there to make your life easier.

    Learn to find documents I have already shared with you.

    Yes, the all staff training emails do apply to you too.

    Let me know things I need to do to do my job for you.

    Say thank you, close the loop, trust me to do what’s needed, let me work as flexibly as I need to.

    Don’t ever show me up in public. Ever. Because I will retaliate, and I will stop covering your backside for all those things you’re not competent enough to do, or have dropped the ball on. I will specifically stop proof reading your reports before they go out.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      Re the calendar thing, that sounds like my ex manager. She refused access to her calendar for all her direct reports on the grounds that in her previous job she had information relating to child protection conferences she’d minuted at the time, and there were a few comments along the lines of “No one cares about any meetings from ages ago, it’s not something anyone’s going to be actively looking in her calendar for, and if anyone did find themselves on it by accident ever, it’d be “Oops, wrong day” and go to the date they actually needed!” (Also, since we all had access to the social care records system where such info was held, if there ever was a reason someone needed us to look up anything about those old conferences, we had access to the info that way and wouldn’t have needed to try then-manager’s calendar.)

  108. LilPinkSock*

    This might be shocking to some, but we admins are employees just like everyone else, and what I look for from my colleagues and managers is probably the same as everyone else: an appropriate wage, respect as a person, and understand that I have professional knowledge and expertise in my job function just like the program manager and CEO. (Also, please bring me cupcakes on my birthday and AP Day because I keep about six different schedules in my head and sugar helps keep all those meetings straight!)

  109. Minimal Pear*

    We have this ongoing issue that goes something like this:
    1. We introduce a new process.
    2. Everyone hates the new process.
    3. We point out why the new process is actually better and they need to use it.
    4. They do the new process and do a good job at it. They realize that we were right.
    5. They get sloppy because training on the new process was a while ago and they start forgetting things, therefore increasing my workload and re-introducing the same problems we had that made us start using this process.
    So please, make sure to occasionally refresh on things like this! I’m starting to think that we’re going to have to hold a re-training session or something.

  110. I'm Not Phyllis*

    I had one job in particular that gave me the following for you:
    1. If you have me working a 20-hour day, don’t throw a fit if I am in the kitchen getting a coffee and not with my butt in chair at 9 am the next day. I’m tired and running on fumes – you’re lucky I got to work on time at all.
    2. I am not psychic. You can’t expect me to have information from impromptu meetings that I didn’t even know you had. Telling me “it’s not my job to tell you things, it’s your job to find them out” is not helpful when you don’t invite me to meetings, they’re not in your calendar, and/or you actually want me to know the things.
    3. If you ask me to meet you somewhere, please show up and don’t leave me standing there with a bunch of documents that you requested for an hour and a half because you felt like doing something different. At the very least answer your phone.

    But really it all boils down to – my job is just as important as your job, it is just different. Value mine as I value yours.

  111. prettybird*

    As someone who packs in being an admin with a whole other position: If I tell you that something is your responsibility and not mine, don’t ask me again. Just do what I said. Shh. You’re an adult. Do the thing. You’re gonna feel foolish when it doesn’t get done.

    And stop telling other people I do that thing and starting the cycle over!

  112. Not a mind-reader*

    F*cking. COMMUNICATE. YOU STUPID JACK@$$ES. (Someday, I will be so worn down that I say exactly those words out loud.)

    Example: as a front desk receptionist at a company of about 500 people, not only am I juggling everyone else’s fires, I’m also expected to play security guard and screen everyone wanting to be buzzed in the door, hundreds of times a day. (But our actual security guards who sit on the desk when I go home for the night make way more than I do, just sayin’. And they do way less since we’re closed and nobody’s in the building.)

    Absolutely no one will tell me any of the information I need to, you know, NOT let in a disgruntled former employee who wants to get violent, or someone who’s been banned from the premises, like the former engineering manager’s stalker who showed up here before.

    Who currently works here? Dunno! HR tells me IT should have that list. IT tells me HR should have it.

    Who’s recently quit, fired, retired, or died? No idea! No one will give me that information.

    What are the phone extensions for the people actually do who work here so I can transfer calls to them? Dunno! No one will give me that info. HR and IT are still passing the buck to each other.

    What guests and job interviewees do we have coming by today? Not a f*cking clue! No one ever tells me that.

    Not only does not one ever communicate with me, the departments don’t communicate with each other. We’ve been working in this new building for a year now (not at all large; only about a fifth of the employees work in this location). I just this week had someone from accounting bring me envelopes for sales because she didn’t know where the sales department is. Y’all. The sales department? It is NEXT to accounting. She had to walk past sales to get to the elevator that brought her to my desk! She has to walk past sales every single day to get to her own department. It’s an open floor plan, so she can SEE the sales people working in there. But she could not figure out that the sales people were working in the sales department. This is normal here. (People also legitimately don’t know how to use the phones to dial internally with three-digit extensions because there’s no true training process for new hires, so they call me to transfer them to coworkers. Which brings us back to the issue of me not having a large chunk of extensions.)

    Also…Give me a f*cking break. Literally. Expecting me to be chained to a desk buzzing open the doors, answering phones, and wrangling people nonstop for 9.5 or more hours a day, five days a week is actually and legitimately destroying my health. Not only are you wrong about my job being “brainless” and “easy,” you’re wrong that people doing this don’t deserve to eat your lunches in peace, away from the busy front desk. You’re also wrong that our bladders don’t need to be emptied at some point during that 9.5+ hour daily shift.

    1. Not a mind-reader*

      your lunches = obviously “our lunches,” heh. The general “your” I’m griping at never ever miss an opportunity to leave the office and enjoy lengthy lunch breaks away from desks and phones. They think expressing shock and saying to me, “You mean you don’t get any breaks?” counts as their “I’m a good person, really!” act for the day.

    1. Anonomatopoeia*

      Note: you might or might not know whether someone is sober for addition or religious reasons or any other reasons. I would not give wine unless I was absolutely positive this person drinks wine.

  113. Lulu*

    My Dad (a lawyer) absolutely relied on his truly phenomenal admin. I always knew her as a secretary, but perhaps her title changed over the years as the times changed. She was a Mets fan, so for Admin day he’d always get her field-level behind-home-plate tickets for her and her husband. She always raved about it, so hopefully he hit it right!

  114. Catherine Peters*

    Please treat your admin staff as my amazing former boss did; after paying me a bonus for my birthday and giving me paid time off (out of his pocket), he literally was on his knees thanking me profusely for all that I did for him and begged me to never leave him again.

    THAT’S an amazing boss.

  115. anonanonanon*

    For me, I think it’d be just a smidge more respect from people. So many of the people in our workplace think that just because we’re admin, our jobs are “easy”. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve told people that I’m not requesting things on a whim — it’s generally because the government, the board, or some other authority requires it of me. They also assume that, because I’m “just admin”, I’m uneducated, unmotivated, or dropping out to have kids soon and taking this job to pretend I have a career.

    I have multiple degrees (because I love learning and am fortunate enough to be in a country and living situation where I can access higher education), I handle executive-level work, and I outearn some of our staff members because I’ve proven I’m capable. Fortunately, our exec (following some changes in staff last year) are all VERY respectful of admin, and I’m glad I mostly work closely with them. But for the others on my team, it’s a constant slog, and I don’t blame them for being disheartened. I speak up whenever I hear someone complaining about us, but I’d love to see that culture change.

    (Also what I hate: there are a few of us on our team with degrees, but most of the team are career admin, and have built their skills on the job — and they are EXCEPTIONAL. However, those women are looked down on by so many people at our company for not having degrees, and the moment they find out you DO have a degree, you’re suddenly “one of the good ones”. Can we get rid of this snobbery?!)

  116. Raine*

    Echoing the previous comments: respect as fellow professionals, juggling multiple, shifting priorities, handling all the shit you don’t want to or don’t know how to, and making it happen with a smile.
    – Respect our time off, whether it’s lunch, bathroom breaks, or non-work-hours. I had someone burst into the restroom to tell me that my phone was ringing and oh, by the way, would I do this urgent thing for them right now?
    – Pay us well and appreciate us, not just on Administrative Professionals Day.
    – If we have made a career out of being an admin and/or we’ve been at the company a long time, we probably know a lot more than you do about how processes work, how to do our job well, and don’t appreciate snide commentary about how easy it looks. It looks easy because we figured out how to do it so it looks that way. It’s not.
    – We are not personal slaves. We aren’t your work spouses, either, or free help for your children/other family members. We have a set list of responsibilities, and what you’re asking us to do along those lines probably isn’t on that list.
    – Stop with the sexist, harassing, problematic, and ignorant comments. They’re not funny.

  117. Jess*

    One of the difficult things about an admin role is that it’s hard to quantify – you can’t always say something like “I did X projects this year” or “I generated $$$ for the business” when you’re looking back at your work at performance review time. Often the mark of success is that things just WORK, seamlessly and without hassle, for everyone else on your team!

    So something I’ve always appreciated is when people have gone out of their way to tell me how what I’ve done has made a difference (whether that’s an email to me I can save to pull out when I’m assessing my performance, or communicating with my manager directly). Recognising when I’ve gone above and beyond, or specifically communicating how something has been an improvement or made their work-day better (i.e. how what I’ve done has contributed to the KPIs of the organisation.)

    Often in meetings people will say something like “of course we can’t do it without [admin], they do everything etc” but while that’s NICE it can sort of feel a bit empty – almost like a pat on the head? SPECIFICS are what’s amazing.

    1. JustaRando*

      Yeah, lip service will be the death of me. I’m an EA and I hear many iterations of this every week. My gift yesterday was balloons and a fast food joint gift card for $15 – I am not 10 years old FFS.

  118. JustaRando*

    A path upward! Do not let your great assistant stagnate there because they have become your “right-hand man,” prove you value them by helping them move upward in your organization!

  119. Rachael*

    I was on a three-person team of receptionists for a couple of years, and what I think a lot of my colleagues didn’t understand was that our role involved a lot more than greeting clients and answering the phones. Some of it was working on a computer, and a lot of it was taking care of things away from the desk.

    I did a lot of sitting at a desk covering the phones, sure, and sometimes there was enough downtime that I could read a book, but I was also incredibly active and often on my feet in that job. Some days were so busy that I hardly sat down!

    But I think some people thought that because we had to sit there, and there was an inviting candy dish, that we were just free to chit-chat with them for as long as they could get away with hanging around the desk. I wish people had respected our time more, and not treated us as a captive audience when they were bored.

  120. Not just an admin*

    I am an admin and I honestly feel like this day of appreciation wouldn’t even be needed if we were all actually treated like other people in other career categories…cause I don’t see a lawyer or police officer or whatever appreciation day..

  121. Buffy Rosenberg*

    An admin colleague was telling me recently that she gets a lot of emotional dumping on her from senior people (on in particular). She also regularly gets evening and late night messages, calls etc, which demand responses.

    I was very struck by this because the general working culture is different. The worst offendeder for sending the late night messages is always talking about work life balance and wellbeing (for herself).

  122. GovtStooge*

    Most of my wants have to do with the public, but these are some of the things I’ve complained about recently:

    1. Do things for yourself and don’t automatically pile it on me. Why are you replying to my email to you, asking me to send someone else the email? Just forward it!

    2. Communicate. I make up phone lists, a list of who to send common calls to, mailing lists, so on. Please tell me as soon as you can if someone leaves/if a job title changes/if job duties change. I have to transfer the public to people. I need to make sure they go to the right person.

    3. Don’t assume I can’t do my job. Yes I handle date stamping documents, but if a pile of unstamped documents in a folder dated with my day off turns up (and I know it wasn’t me cause I had nothing for that person that day) don’t slap it on my desk and admonish me for it. Have faith I know how to do my job and come ask me about it.

    1. Zee*

      Why are you replying to my email to you, asking me to send someone else the email? Just forward it!

      I had a job when I was in college where my boss would regularly walk over to my desk, hand me a piece of paper, and ask me to walk it over to someone else who sat the same distance away from her. Why??

  123. Raida*

    From when I was an office manager/admin: have a set time once a month meeting with me, for me and you to go through anything we feel isn’t working, or could work better.

    Could be a process or procedure, could be convoluted software, could be combining three end of day tasks, could be dedicated time once a week where nobody interrupts so that X, Y, Z get done.

    I’m doing the work, you need it done, let’s work together to make it work as well as possible without just going with “Admin will get it done” because that’s annoying, ignorant, and dismissive.

    To be fair, if you were *my* boss, you already learnt that I’m simply going to demand the required attention and focus when necessary, and if you don’t I have clearly stated “It will not be done today.” so that *you* made the time, not *me* scrambling around your wonky schedule.
    And you already learnt that I’m intelligent, focussed, enjoy problem solving, getting everything done helping out coworkers, going the extra mile and doing a lot of very important tasks which include ‘just’ answering the phones because what, you going to tell me you won’t care if I stop answering it? yeah that’s what I bloody thought mate.

    My previous boss learnt that when I said “I’m focussing on this don’t interrupt me unless it’s an emergency” that you damn well are going to explain in pedantic detail what was an emergency about ‘can you look up John Doe’s invoice?’ while I was in the middle of payroll. There’s a second computer Boss, do it yourself.

    Also “No. You can’t come back inside. You are leaving for a booked service at Mrs Doe’s place. Your toolbox is inside? Fine, you can grab that.” because holy god that man was bad at being on time and would get tied up with any customer in the store as the expert until I got in the way to keep him on track…

    I don’t *want* to bully him, but it turns out when your boss is a huge bully, that’s how you get through to him – sternly and refusing to accept any blame that isn’t justifiably mine

  124. Don’t mess with me*

    Over a decade ago I worked as the admin at an architectural firm, I wore at least two dozen hats on a daily basis. I was always told by the partners that I just needed to do things and training a back up wasn’t necessary.

    I gave my boss a years notice that I would be taking a certain 3 week period off as vacation because my entire family was going to Greece for my grandparents 70 wedding anniversary. Approval was given.

    Starting 6 months out I started reminding boss via email about upcoming trip.

    Five weeks before trip, after all arrangements had been made and paid for boss says sorry you can’t have that time off because I’m going on a golf trip to California then and won’t be able to have any fun if you’re not here to man the fort.

    All the talking to him and showing him all the emails I had sent regarding my trip wouldn’t change his mind. So I told him that he left me no option but to put in my two weeks notice and who would he like me to train on what aspects of my job.

    He got mad and asked me to leave immediately. So I did. TWO days later he calls and wants me to walk someone through x, y and z over the phone because no one knew how to do it. Um, sorry I don’t work for you anymore. If you require my assistance we can discuss you hiring me as a consultant for specific amount of time at specific amount of money per hour. Of course I’ll need to have you sign a contract stating you’ve agreed to this. It will take me two days to draw up the contract and get it to you for your signature and then once you get it signed and back to me I’ll be able to start the next business day (so approximately 5 days from today depending on how quickly you sign and get the contract back to me).

    He didn’t agree. I heard that customer billing was over a week behind because they couldn’t figure it out any sooner.

  125. Zee*

    Don’t throw your admins under the bus! Sooo many times, I wasn’t able to prepare something for a meeting (or had to throw something together sloppily at the last minute) because my boss or coworkers never gave me the pieces I needed, but I was the one that ended up looking bad.

  126. Middle Aged Lady*

    So many great ideas! Never an admin but ine of my besties is, and she’s the best!
    Don’t spill drinks/crumbs on documents I give you to sign, especially when they already have other signatures on them I will have to get again!
    Don’t hang out by my desk and chat with others, esp when I am on the phone.
    Don’t hang out by my desk and chat with me just because I am a captive audience.
    Don’t come behind my desk and look over my shoulder. I handle confidential stuff. don’t pressure me to reveal confidential stuff.
    Don’t assume anything about my workload. If anything, assume I am busy as hell and something unexpected just came up.
    Don’t expect me to magically know where others are or you might hear Well, I saw Bob leave about five minutes ago with that special look on his face and a copy of the Times, so you can probably find him in a men’s restroom. He favors the 3rd floor because no one knows him up there.”
    Don’t take items from my desk like they are community property.
    Clean up after yourself.
    And for the love of all that’s holy, pay more and answer the emails!!

  127. HugeTractsofLand*

    I’ve been an admin before and I would have really appreciated:

    1) Professional development + annual evaluations. We didn’t have either, which sent a loud message that admins were not expected to progress and didn’t have skills worth developing. That’s so untrue! Even Excel/google suite/company platform trainings would have been great.

    2) Protected time for meetings and events. Where I worked admins did have a monthly meeting, but there were no substitutes to cover the front desk. Leadership should have come up with a solution- either a different meeting time or a culture where the front desk is closed for an hour once a month.

    3) Being included as an equal team member. At my company, admin were left out of a lot of company culture events and trainings, which meant we weren’t really speaking the same language. Since we were at a very mission-driven non-profit, that felt especially alienating.

  128. Not_a_Newb*

    So many comments about feeding the admin treats like I do to reward my dog’s behavior. To me, this reads as degrading, but I think the reality is that for many admins, they’re not doing it for the treats: it’s simply because they were seen.

  129. AnneSurely*

    Most of my time spent as an admin. assistant was in a pretty good situation when it came to pay, benefits, and respect from our superiors. But the #1 thing they could have done to make our day to day lives easier was keeping up with voicemails and communications about things and/or with people where the assistants weren’t in a position to be able to do more. Basically, the time suck and emotional labor of dealing with people who are upset because they feel they are being ignored or forgotten is not productive and was often a huge burden. (Given the field, it was almost impossible to be perfect and never get behind in communications. But some people did a lot better than others, and the effect on their assistants was considerable.)

    In that job, they did admin assistants day right. People actually knew each other. We were part of the group, fully, and respected as employees and individuals. There was a nice paid long lunch (with phones OFF), and personalized gifts that were really thoughtful and actually made me feel appreciated. Like, as a human whose existence was more than just assisting someone. In places where there is less of a personal connection, loaded gift card would work just as well.

  130. BabyAdmin*

    Lesson learned from my first year as admin to attorneys: please please know how your admin’s advancement plan/yearly review cycle differs from yours. Do not miss those deadlines. You might not be the one making the salary decision, but you are the one who is ACTUALLY WORKING WITH your admin staff and should be giving input in to get them raises.

  131. InABetterPlace*

    I used to work in an administrative role at a nonprofit where we sent holiday gifts to our major donors. Each gift was accompanied by a card that had a preprinted message and our procedure is that the gift officers responsible for each major donor’s relationship would sign their name in a card. The admin staff had the task of physically shipping the gift+card.

    One of our gift officers couldn’t be bothered to sign her name in her stack of cards by the deadline we set for her. She proceeded to lose her sh*t when her gifts weren’t being mailed out first (we were mailing out the gifts with cards that had already been signed). She screamed at me and my coworker in front of the entire office about how it was our job to remind her to sign her cards. No one intervened or stopped her.

    The next day, she apologized…. to one of her peers that happened to be in the room. She apologized that the peer “had to witness that.” My coworker and I on the admin staff never received an apology from her or anyone higher up.

    I have since found a better job.

  132. Chickaletta*

    All of this! As an EA, I concur with:

    – Living wages. FFS, it’s so depressing when the intern gets paid more than me and I have 20 years of experience on this person who needs hand-holding and kudos for organizing a document I could create in my sleep.

    – Speaking of job experience, we want job mobility, support, and upward movement just like anyone else! Once you’re an EA for a chief exec, there’s often no more vertical path so we start looking for jobs in management, director roles, project management, business growth, etc that many of us are qualified to do just from the sheer knowledge we’ve acquired as an EA. But we often get labeled with an “A” (Assistant) on our foreheads because so many people think all we do is schedule meetings.
    – Similarly, have confidence in us! So much of what we do is at a similar level that other professionals are doing (writing, researching, managing relationships, self-management, problem solving), everything except make the actual business decisions (although often nudging our bosses in a direction if needed). I’ve literally watched Directors ask for direction or have questions about something and they’re considered proactive and engaged, but when an EA does that we get brushed aside or told that the task is better suited for someone else because the assumption is already that we won’t understand. It’s such a hard line to walk.

  133. Eloise*

    Nah, printing is fair game.

    Of course, if there are no glitches, it’s just as fast to press print yourself. But printers run out of paper or ink, or sometimes one is offline. Or sometimes you need a portion of things in color and another in black and white, or Excels need to be PDF’ed in a way that works well. The point of sending printing to the admin is that they absorb those steps/troubleshooting when, for any reason, it takes more time than just clicking print.

  134. OP Admin*

    OP here. I read every comment. Some quotes from other comments that really stick with me. (Not to say others weren’t wonderful, these just resonate with my experiences):

    “Don’t pretend I misconstrued the discussion and assigned it to you in error.”

    “Don’t make us send 10 reminders about a task that takes 7 minutes out of your day.”

    “Do not tell me call someone to confirm what I just said. You are wasting my time and theirs.”

    “And if something happens last minute and you have to cancel and tell me to reschedule, don’t then blame me for “not having meetings” and information being missing because we didn’t have the meeting(s) you didn’t attend.”

    “If I support an entire department and you throw said department a Holiday dinner at a nice restaurant… please invite me. Also don’t wait until the day of to remember you forgot to invite me and then invite me.”

    “Your mistakes are not my fault. It is never ok to blame the admin because you didn’t get your time sheet in on time or you expense report is wrong.”

    “Try following the directions before you ask for help!”

    “Professional development and a career ladder to progress. When every other role has opportunity for advancement and promotion but the administrative professionals do not, that’s exclusion.”

    “She is also a procrastinator who expects poor planning on her part to be an emergency on our part. It’s clear she does not respect the time of the support staff.”

    “Haven’t seen this one yet: admins are entitled to disability accommodation just like everyone else. Just because it makes you feel more ~secure~ to have butts in seats in the office building, that doesn’t mean no admin tasks can ever be done remotely. If the office is hybrid, it sure sends a message when the admin is required to come in every day, physically… just to send emails.”

    “I wanted the boundaries of my job to be clearly defined and respected. There was an attitude that I would just do EVERYONE’S admin work, or get other people’s lunch””

    “Promote us. Give us raises. Pay us a liveable wage. The number of times I was told in the nine years I was an EA that I was “perfect” for another higher paying, lower stress role but “couldn’t be spared” literally crushed me.”

    “What I wanted in the years I did admin work was to be treated like just another member of the team.

    “Respect our working hours.”

    “Respect our processes. Your task is not going to get pushed to my front of the line just because you’re impatient. ”

    If you want me to do something a certain way, or actually just if you have an expectation I will do something, there should be an exchange of information which allows me to know that.”

    “Do things for yourself and don’t automatically pile it on me. Why are you replying to my email to you, asking me to send someone else the email? Just forward it!”

    And finally:

    “Pay us what we’re worth, treat us like the educated and highly credentialed subject matter experts we are, and above all, get your own coffee.”

    Being an admin is exhausting. I do it in part because I’m excellent at it and in part because I can’t figure out a high paying job that will want me after being trapped as an admin for so many years without a path for advancement. If admin work paid more I would happily choose it forever because I excel with it. But it doesn’t because society is stupid. Rather than dwell in frustration, I wrote in with hopes that it gets people thinking hey, “maybe take one minute to figure out the issue before calling the admin. I will call the admin only after the minute of trying on my own is up” I may or may not pass this thread on to my organization’s DEI group. There are absolutely equity factors at play. Thank you everyone for your replies.

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