Sunday, October 5, 2008

Let us now praise fabulous office staff.

An invitation to the comentariat to present their encomiums of truly wonderful staff members who save our bacon for far too little compensation.

We've all had to deal with bad office staff members. The one who loses everything, then blames you for it. The one who you need to bribe with little gifts to make sure that you get the thing you need in a timely manner. The one who always seems to be out of the office for two days. The one who snarls and sneers, but can't be fired.

Right. But what about the good ones? And the really great ones? Put yourself in the position I was in last Friday, less than 24 hours after I submitted my tenure file. I found 3 or 4 typos in the narrative. Not a disaster, but I'd like to put my best foot forward. And the "open period" to add to, subtract from, or make changes to your own file absolutely, positively ended on Thursday.

So, an office staff member would have had several alternatives when I showed up Friday (very few classes that day for us), 10 a.m., with revised narrative in hand:

1. Sneer and/or pretend unctuous sympathy, but refuse to make the change; possibly spend the next six months telling anyone who would listen (including department chair) about your impertinent request.

2. Apologize, but refuse to bend the rules, on the grounds that rules are rules.

3. Chuckle, say "oh, I think we could probably risk it," pull out a folder, and say "pop it in here with the other stuff I'll be putting in the files this afternoon."

C., the head office admin. in my department is a type 3 -- for this and almost all similar occasions. I will never stop loving her.

Please use the comments to contribute your praises of your own favorite office staff members. Then go tell them in person how great they are. Get them a gift card to the local coffee shop. Remember: they make about half what you do, but you couldn't do your job without them.


Anonymous said...

Ok, the admin for my grad program. she registers me for dissertation research because I always forget. She has slipped countless oops I forgot this and now it's late documents into files for me. She tells me phone numbers I could go look up but don't. She tells me the copier code over and over because I never write it down. She has even been known to dispense bandages, when required. I heart her. She is wonderful.

Second, as much as I dislike adjuncting, the department admin at my current uni is fantastical. He is this young hipster type with thick black rimmed glasses, a lone jew on a catholic campus. When I came in to fill out paper work he didn't just tell me where to go to do things like get my faculty id. he walked me from building to building, introduced me to the right people and got everything settled. He even photocopied my syllabus for me that day and walked me to my classroom to show it to me. That is so above and beyond. What would have taken me all morning wandering here and there took just about an hour. Love love love.

Belle said...

Oh yes. I've been blessed. In academia, there are the Karens, who made sure I had funding and support and friends. Joy, who helped me stay sane and provided friendship and covered my ass more times that I could count in the final PhD program. And now, our AA and dear friend, Petunia, who has gone so far beyond the call for everyone that a mere mention of retirement draws gasps of horror from faculty, staff and students. Just last week she rearranged my killer schedule and made it better and more survivable, and made everybody involved feel great about it. Huzzah! for good people!

Dr. S said...

My department's administrative assistant is basically our co-chair, and every single one of us knows it. She handles everything--and all of us on top of it. I have stocked her office with all kinds of shoulder massage things, which I use on her on a regular basis. It's also been my mission, the whole time I've worked at the college, to make her laugh hysterically at least once a day. This has often involved my getting into bizarre situations, generally involving attempts at high kicks or strange dances while coming down the stairs of our building.

Susan said...

Indeed. My debts to the various office staffs I have worked with over the years are legion. But most recently, Rhonda, who came in at 7:30 in the morning to take things off a bookcase in a storage room so that I and a fellow new faculty member could unpack our books, 6 weeks into the semester. This was simply above and beyond. . .

Anonymous said...

I love my office staff, but a shoutout to the packet goddess at my univ, who took one week to go from me requesting a packet (on the second day of classes) to getting it in the bookstore.