Keeping Them Happy

I used to be part of a psychology department  at my agency with four other psychologists. We had our own secretary who scheduled our appointments, administered the paper and pencil tests to our clients, scored our tests, and typed our reports.

I am now the only full time psychologist at our agency.   We lost our secretary position, and my departmental support staff duties have been divvied up between the remaining support staff.  I rely on one person to schedule my evaluations, one to type my letters, one to score my tests,  and two others who take turns typing my evaluations. I administer all my own tests now.  They all do a great job and I am grateful for each one.

It is Administrative Assistants Day on April 25.  That means that I need to do something special for all five of the people who take such good care of me. If there is one thing I have learned in the nineteen years I have worked at my agency, it is that it is really important to keep the support staff happy and let them know how much they are appreciated.  They work hard and keep things going.  I complained to our assistant regional director that it really isn’t fair that I have so many administrative assistants  to keep happy when some people only have one. She just laughed at me. I have decided to bake four kinds of shortbread for them.  Husband decided that he had people on the reservation to thank for the administrative work they do for him, so he decided it would be just the thing if I made a chocolate cheesecake that he could take up with him, along with any of the shortbread that I don’t bring to work.  It is a good thing I like to bake.  I know he appreciates it.

How do you show people you appreciate them? How have people let you know they appreciate you?  When haven’t you been appreciated?

 

85 thoughts on “Keeping Them Happy”

  1. I am taking on the last question. Our crew has been working our butts off on a project that was begun on a regular 7 AM to 3 PM schedule but because of a water pipe breakage was delayed. To make up for the lost time, the crew has been working from 5 PM to 2 AM, Friday through Sunday. This allows the other trades to do their thing. Our union contract stipulates time and a half on Saturdays and double time on Sunday. The contractor at fault for the flooding has already signed off on the overtime hours. I’m certain there is an insurance claim involved. These wages were paid for the first three weeks of this but now last week we were informed by MY COMPANY that they will be paying only straight time as the project was not bid with overtime in the budget. I am not happy.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. On top of that, a Proctor and Gamble project in Cincinnati will be starting up again next month and is expected to last six months. The boss won’t be paying for hotel rooms this time (he did in the past) but has offered a condo that he owns. So now it will be three hours on the road each day or bunk with the guys that I work with for eight hours a day or pay for my own room or retire. Decisions.

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        1. I don’t know what the factors are in your decision. If I had to work 8 hours, then bunk with the same work guys, I would be so outta there. You can always retire, move back here with your Baboon Friends, then work part time when you feel like it and live at home.

          In my old age, my fuse is short with certain people. Certain Work People. I just could not do what your boss wants.

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    1. quit
      they will respond differently when they know you are serious
      or you can do it yourself from here on in
      the truth is you are the best there is and you should be able to freelance and charge 3 or 4 times what you do now
      be the man wes
      does your boss respect your work and leadership enough to bring you in as the lead on a independent contractor basis.
      its worth considering

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  2. I got my first office job in the 1960s, a time when American businessmen and managers had a secretary, and some men had several. It was taken for granted that women could type but men could not, so correspondence was done by women. In my first job women made coffee, managed office supplies and did all sorts of favors for men like shopping and making phone calls the men didn’t want to do.

    In those days incompetent men could enjoy successful careers if they were propped up by competent women who would rewrite letters for the boss and generally keep the male boss from making dumb mistakes.

    Things are different now, obviously. The great change in gender roles in our culture was the main reason I enjoyed watching Mad Men (and a short miniseries called The Good Girls).

    I was never in a position to do much for secretaries, for I didn’t have much power or wealth. I remember buying flowers for one, and I sometimes brought baked goods to the office. I always made my own coffee. Mostly I expressed my appreciation by treating women coworkers with respect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your statement, Steve, “In those days incompetent men could enjoy successful careers if they were propped up by competent women who would rewrite letters for the boss and generally keep the male boss from making dumb mistakes.”

      That is so true. I had several of those jobs, PT, in college. Oh, man.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I was a secretary for 20+ years and that’s pretty much what I did — a lot more though, obviously. Catering, event planning, special projects, office moves, new telephone system, the Bake-Off, scheduling meetings, meetings, meetings, doing expense reports for bosses, generating reports, designing presentations, flow charts and spread sheets, budgets, etc. By and large, I had very nice bosses who appreciated me and treated me well.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I usually appreciate people by thanking them verbally, but I also like to send a card in the mail for anything special.

    Luckily the jobs where I was under-appreciated were temp jobs that were short-lived, and for my longest stay at a job (6 years), I was well feted.. my title was changed from Office Manager to Internal Consultant.

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  4. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    I think I am not very good in some settings at showing appreciation of those around me. I spent a lot of my early life just trying to survive emotionally and feeling unappreciated at best. If I do show appreciation, it is usually by baking or canning for someone, then sharing the bounty. In the tradition of my grandma, I show love with food.

    Yesterday I received an email from one of the people who bought my practice. They wanted to know some stuff. I had the great pleasure of letting them know I now charge for that knowledge. I did not hear back from either of them. I do not feel appreciated by those folks.

    Last weekend I felt appreciated by my cousins and by my three year old great nephew, who LOVES it when I come to visit. We have a thing. He is a budding opera singer. He sits in his chair, throws back his head, and starts to sing “The Ceiling Fan” song, his own composition, about the blades going around and moving air into a breeze. It was delightful. I could not stop laughing. His intention then became to make me laugh.

    What a guy. I appreciate him!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Medical support staff in this town are amazing. In all our visits and contacts with them only 3-4 were not positive. There are hundreds in those roles in this city. I bet 98% are women. The women who book appointments are outstanding. Always polite and patient, voices bright and alert (most of their work from is by phone). They must deal with many confused and impatient old people. I wrote a letter to the head of the Mankato Clinic, where Sandy and I go the most, praising the appointments people. Did not get an answer. We get a few reviews to fill out. We always give them top grades and do sign our names. Sandy of course knows all about many of them, knows much about their families and travails, which she always remembers. I just always make a point f making my thank you s more than cursory. The MRI techs, who I know too well, are so patient and relaxed and supportive as I fight through my claustrophobia. Beyond what we do there is not much else we can do.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. When anyone asks what I did for work, I try to avoid the question. When forced I say businessman. If you say publisher, they or someone they know wants to publish something. No wonder it is hard to get published today. I never say teacher or pastor. Both careers are targets for , for what; abuse is too strong a word, most of the time. I do not receive much praise from former students or parents. Not that much contact. Every now and then out of the blue will come a letter. When I was teaching I did receive some good feedback, but it often served as preamble for attacks on other teachers or the profession. I should not raise the subject on here again . . .
    One the good things about TLGMS was their efforts to praise teachers.
    In small towns one of the prime sources for rumors against teachers and schools, real and false, are the support staff. I was almost always polite to them. Now and then . . .
    It was hard for Sandy to be the wonderful beloved children’s and evening librarian and be a diabetic. The easy thing was to bring her sugary things to praise her. As a businessman I gave support staff gift certificates to the local spa. My two co managers objected. So I paid for them out of my pockets and digned all our names.

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    1. It might interest you, Clyde, to hear that medicine in this region of Michigan is dominated by doctors born abroad. My personal medical team includes doctors from India, Egypt and Pakistan. I think my podiatrist was born in the US, but she is the only native American on the team. My heart clinic is led by 14 doctors, 13 of whom are from the middle east. I’ve heard that hostility to immigrants is already causing a crisis in nursing homes, many of which rely heavily on immigrants for staffing. I’ve read that some foreign-born doctors are now relocating to their homelands because they feel unwanted here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Many here too. Many of them live in this building for awhile before moving on or buying. We have 5 mds and seven techs of various kinds right now.

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      2. In a country where more than a quarter of all surgeons and other medical doctors are foreign born, you’d think that we’d be smart enough to appreciate them.

        Liked by 4 people

    2. Don’t stop mentioning it here. This is therapy and we all want to hear the deep stuff. Preacher teacher publisher we know who you are and you vignettes of both scenes and perceptions are appreciated
      Teachers and preachers are abused only by twits
      None of those here except me and I won’t criticize or abuse

      Keep on posting thoughts unencumbered by judge mental jabs
      This group is very accepting. We will even allow preachers teachers and publishers

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  7. I like to be grateful. I’m really good at whipping off a reply email just to say thanks if needed, or thanks with a cute graphic. I also use my company’s internal thank you software quite a bit. And then there’s the cards. Just made a card for a friend who thought of me when her company was changing out chairs and the old chairs were available. She called and wanted to know if I wanted one. Since I’ve been sitting in a broken chair in my studio for 3 years, I jumped at the chance. Anyway the card I just made her has chairs on it.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Renee, great picture today. It reminds me of when I took typing in junior high.
    The typing teacher put up a big race track on the bulletin board and we each had a little car with our initials. As we got to certain levels of typing, words per minute, she moved our car along. Those of you who know me you know I had to be in front — I even practiced at home. The bottom line to all of this — even all these years later I am a very fast typer. Or are we suppose to say keyboardist?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ones I learned on in 1965 were not quite that antiquated–but it was close. The Selectrics I worked on in offices later were a dream compared to the old manuals.

      I learned recently from an interview of Tom Hanks that he collects antique typewriters–has hundreds of them on display in his home. Bill, there is a new collectible for you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember what a game changer the Selectrics were. And then they came up with the electronic typewriters. Remember them? I tried, in vain, to master the IBM Wheelwriter (in fact, I think we still have one in the attic). They left you lots of room to screw up, not only when typing, but even more so when trying to correct a mistake you had made.

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        1. I loved the Selectric when I finally got my hands on one. That little letter ball was fun. I could type more errors per minute with a Selectric than with anything I’d used.

          The typewriter of my youth was a Royal portable that lived in a plastic case. That was my high school graduation gift. My erstwife had one too, so we started life with two identical Royal typewriters. When I got my first computer, she argued for keeping one of the Royals because “we might need it if this computer doesn’t work.” We carried that portable from home to home before realizing it was never going to be used again.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. With the Selectric you had to get the White Out square lined up with the error and punch the mistaken letter, just so, then type the correct letter over it. With the Selectric round wheel it was so much harder to line the entire business up correctly. On the old manuals you could hit the white square easier. I know this well because I made so many mistakes.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. I am aware of Tom Hanks’ typewriter collection and I have to admit I find the things appealing. More than once I’ve lingered over one at an estate sale. But even more than toasters, typewriters in the hundreds demand a lot of space. It’s possible that Hanks’ house is bigger than mine.

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        1. Younger generations are blessed to be able to work with computers rather than typewriters, but we who grew up on typewriters know what sweet music it was to hear the carriage chugging in its travel from left to right. And the ding of the bell was delightful. I used to love smacking the chrome carriage bar to send it back to the left again. I guess one reason office machines were so heavy was so fast typists didn’t knock them around when starting a new line.

          And then there is this:

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        1. A former student of mine was fired for letting other students know about a students failing grade. This has become a large issue. Student confidentiality is quite absolute.

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        2. I see that as a completely different issue, NS, I think most reasonable people would. As a teacher you don’t go blabbing to some students about how other students in the class are doing. As a teacher, you also do not discuss what you think of other teachers with your students, especially if your opinion is negative. These are issues that may not be covered under FERBA, which pertains to release of students’ records, but it’s highly unethical behavior that should not be tolerated. I’ve seen teachers getting in trouble for this, and in my opinion, that’s just deserts.

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        3. You can’t let students know how other students are doing. So you cannot have students correct each other’s papers or put up charts like this. It is silly because students tell each other or kids figure it out. Publishing the honor roll is a violation, which has on occasion raised an issue. This teacher made a passing comment that a student could not participate in some upcoming event because of his failing grades. The mother had a vendetta against that teacher and would not let it go. All of this can be reasonably ignor d until you meet that unreasonable parent. I used to have fun competitions, academic contests. The year before I left the classroom I had decided to drop all of those. Many kids would have been disappointed when I did it. I was famous for lots of goofy fun things and the kids used to wait for them. A chart showing kids competing for performance on class activities does show how kids are doing. Gym teachers do a lot of that, where it is very reasonable. A school I worked at in upstate NY ordered the gym teachers to stop because a group of teachers who did not want gym grades to count went after the issue.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Essentially, I think we agree, NS. I’m sure, though, we could have some animated discussions about this.

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    2. The machine in the picture is a lot like the machines used in my high school to teach typing. The keys had incredibly long travel arcs. You really had to push hard to get a letter on the paper. Those big, heavy machines were the standard for offices once. They were extremely heavy, perhaps to make them stable.

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      1. Typing wasn’t offered in my high school, but my mom signed up for a evening typing course and chickened out after the first class. She made me take the class so as not to waste her tuition; I was thirteen at the time. The machines we used, this would have been in 1956, were a slightly newer vintage than the one in the header photo. You really had to pound those keys, and yes they were extremely heavy. My theory is, that was to prevent frustrated typists from throwing them across the room. I achieved an OK typing speed, but it was never my strong suit.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. In all my years in school (including eleven years in grad school) I had all kinds of teachers: peppy teachers, gruff teachers, insecure teachers, would-be-comedian teachers, teachers who drank too much and a few noble souls whose lives I wanted to emulate. Out of all of those men and women, I only had one truly stupid teacher, my typing teacher, and she was stunningly stupid.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I occasionally have some very vivid memory and end up writing a letter of thanks to someone in my past – 6th grade teacher, former choir director… as when Clyde mentioned “Every now and then out of the blue will come a letter” from a former student. I’ve received a thank you note or phone call in reply.

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  10. OT, but husband was reading one of those suck-you-in lists of random stuff, that may or may not have any semblance of veracity, and here are a couple of them that I appreciated, whether or not they are true. I won’t do this often but I want to try this…

    During World War I, Jackie the baboon was awarded a medal and promoted to the rank of corporal.
    AND
    This woman may be Lady Luck in the flesh.
    Anna Mae Dickinson is quite possibly the luckiest woman ever. She survived the sinking of both the Titanic and Lusitania, the Hindenburg explosion, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and, when she was 97, the destruction of her apartment during the 9/11 terror attack.

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    1. I am not sure that being involved in that set of disasters is lucky, despite her survival. Kind of like Forrest Gump–she was there for all of it.

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      1. These kinds of stories have been circulating on the internet for years. It’s virtually impossible to stop them from spreading once they gain traction, no matter how thoroughly they have been debunked, and no matter how utterly implausible they are. Why do people create such stories, and why are people willing to believe them?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Are you suggesting that legends are mostly made up? Now that I think about it, it seems likely. Absolutely nothing is sacred these days.

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        2. No. I am suggesting this particular story is a legend and it will stick, no matter what the source of the story.

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  11. OT the Herbergers here is closing as are all of them, eventually. It has no viable niche,except for top line brands of cosmetics. Sandy needs cosmetics to hide but not irritate her butterfly rash. She insists only Clinique will do it. So we will have to go online, thus impacting more stores.

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  12. The flower shop where I work gives out gift certificates for administrative professionals’ week. I always like any little perk I get. Still, the most meaningful thing is when someone thanks you for doing a good job, either in person or in writing. The wife of the husband/wife team that runs the flower shop is always very good at that.

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  13. when my staert in the business world was launched in 1974 lee christianson was the office secratary and was marvelous and the nicest way ever to be introduced into the world of business. she took dictation by shorthand and would sign her initials at the end of each letter i wrote. ill bet i wrote 1000 letter a year. one day i tried typing it up myself and she was so supportive. no one in business knows how to type his own letters she said. at the time i guess it was true. lines were defined. laptops and desk tops changes all that. flowers and lunch with lee every year was never enough but she was loved and she knew it. i hired other officer managers mostly men ove rthe years and they all are better at the i dotting and t crossing and organizing than i am
    back 20 years ago when the business i was in was intitially transitioning i had a guy who taught me how to move to the next level. i was emulating him and my dad pointed at the support staff he had and suggested that i find a new model because i would never have that kind of support. i puffed up my chest and said i didnt agree. damn he was right. doug my right hand man left two years ago after giving in to his wifes request tha the finsd a stable secure workplace which i have not been known for. i try to let people know how i appreciate their efforts on an ongoing basis. no sense waiting til the calendar tells you its time. you cna never appreciate too much.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have to admit smiling broadly as I read “i tried typing it up myself and she was so supportive.” She must have figured, give him enough rope to hang himself. You’re a natural wonder to me, tim. I’m constantly awed by how your brain works, but I can’t for the life of me imagine you typing your own business letters.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really think we could entertain ourselves over an entire weekend writing business letters supposedly authored and typed by tim…thinking about the typos alone makes me cackle.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. Thank-Yous are great, as an acknowledgement and as social lubrication, like making solid eye contact and remembering people’s names. Last Sunday, when all the sidewalks were buried in a foot of snow and I intuited that everybody was about at the end of their rope as far as shoveling was concerned, I fired up the snowblower, which I haven’t needed for three years, and cleared all the sidewalks on my side of the block. I know it’s appreciated because why wouldn’t it be? But later that day the doorbell rang. It was Liam, the five-year-old boy from next door. His parents are fairly new in the neighborhood. He had two chocolate bars that he handed me and he thanked me for clearing the sidewalk. They weren’t super fancy candy bars—I recognize them as the ones they sell at Ikea but nevertheless it struck me as a classy gesture.

    When my mother was in the nursing home, most of the aides were West African. They were unfailingly kind and cheerful in what is a hazardous, ill-paid and mostly thankless job. It appeared they were invisible to a lot of the family members visiting residents. I used to bring bags of Dove chocolates and surreptitiously deposit them at the front station where they could grab a couple and pocket them. Of course I thanked them at times but I also memorized their names and asked them about their families. Many of them had relatives back in Liberia and this was during the Ebola outbreak.

    I try to remember to thank Robin for things she does around the house. I’m grateful, of course, but mostly I want to assert that those things are equally both our responsibility and not taken for granted.

    A genuine thank you in a work setting is a good thing, certainly better than no expression of gratitude, but it also makes me a little uneasy. In a work setting, thank-yous primarily go downward in the semi-artificial hierarchy and serve to reinforce it. The hierarchy is real in the sense that one person has the official power to evaluate the other, but it’s artificial in the sense that sometimes the one in power is little more than an overpaid figurehead, incompetent to function without their evaluees,

    Thank-yous are cheap if what the assistant really deserves is credit, support, authority, recompense.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have never been comfortable with annually designated days for showing your appreciation of whomever. That goes for administrative assistants, Valentines, mothers, fathers, and grandparents. To my mind these days are all marketing ploys primarily for the benefit of florists, restaurants, and purveyors of cards and gifts. Showing appreciation only on designated days when you’re pretty much required to do so, just isn’t meaningful to me. That said, there’s really no way to avoid it at this point.

      While working at the law firm, it was so obvious how unfair that system is. If you were assigned to work for two or three associates, chances are you were working much harder than if you were working for a single partner, maybe two. And while the secretary for the associates might received more flowers, and associates would pool their resources to invite her out to lunch, she would not be given extravagant gifts that only partners could afford. Of course, not all partners were equally generous, but some were extravagantly so. Nancy who worked for MS was the envy of every secretary in the office. One year for Christmas he gave her a one week vacation in Paris with her husband; another year it was a Caribbean cruise. And MS didn’t actually generate all that much work, and was pretty even tempered. Nancy’s biggest challenge was to keep track of him and making travel arrangements, which to a large extent she had a travel agent take care of.

      I show my appreciation for Deanna, the young woman who cleans our house every two weeks, by staying out of her way while she’s cleaning. I also slip her an extra $20 bill before Halloween for candy, Thanksgiving for a turkey, Easter for something extra for her kids, and for July 4th for whatever. For Christmas I pay her for six hours instead of the three she actually works. She has cleaned for us five years. She knows I appreciate her and try to make her work easier by decluttering the place prior to her arrival so she doesn’t have to work around piles of paper and other stuff. She does a good job, and I tell her regularly how much I appreciate that. And, I always make sure to pay in cash.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As the mom of a former house cleaner, you sound like a great client, PJ. The bonuses, the staying out of the cleaner’s way, the picking up/ decluttering all help her to be able to do her job. I’ve heard some real horror stories of people who don’t do those last two; some of them you would hardly believe.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I have referred Deanna to my friend Helen who lives down the street, and Deanna has cleaned for her almost as long as she has cleaned for me. Helen in turn has referred her to another friend of hers.

          Unfortunately, Deanna is trained as a chef, as is her husband. Together they opened a restaurant that went bankrupt. She is also the mother of four little kids. She has been unable to find work as a chef that’s compatible with being a mother of young children, and it’s not nearly as lucrative in the short term as cleaning. The work she does for us is a huge compromise. Fortunately, she doesn’t mind cleaning, she may actually enjoy being left alone to do her own thing, but it must surely be frustrating to be scrubbing floors and cleaning toilets when she’d rather be cooking. I’m concerned that in the long run, she is diminishing her career choices.

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        2. I can imagine that being a chef would be very difficult to be compatible with being a mom of young children.

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