Lunch out in Secretaries Week no substitute for fair treatment


April 24, 1994|By Niki Scott | Niki Scott,Universal Press Syndicate

This week it's time to let our secretaries know how much we value their skill, versatility, hard work and dedication. April 24-30 is Professional Secretaries Week.

Flowers and a lunch out are a nice touch, especially if they're accompanied by a thank-you note (with a copy to her personnel folder), briefcase, business cards or financial support for further education or training.

But the secretaries who write to me each week would ask these "gifts" of you too -- not just during Professional Secretaries Week, but all year long:

* Treat me with respect and consideration. Don't bark orders at me. Don't make me the dog you kick when you're having a bad day.

* Make it clear that you're on my side. Assume that I'm competent, honest, trustworthy and reliable -- and insist that others do -- unless I prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'm not.

* Treat me like the responsible adult that I am. Don't patronize me, raise your voice to me, scold me as if I were a child or demean me in any of the dozens of other ways that some bosses belittle their secretaries.

* Give me a chance to move on -- and up -- if I want to. Don't stand in my way or hold me back because you might be inconvenienced. Support and assist me instead, because (a) it's the decent thing to do, and (b) if you don't, I'll leave anyway, eventually, and this company will lose an experienced employee.

* Remember that I have a life outside the office. Don't ask me to work late at the last minute unless a true (once a year) crisis has arisen.

* Don't make my life miserable if I occasionally must take time off to care for a sick child or elderly relative, either. Unlike a great many bosses, I don't have a good wife at home to take care of these matters.

* Ask me to work only as hard and enthusiastically as you're willing to. No good general asks his troops to do anything he's not willing to do.

* Delegate authority and responsibility, not just tasks and busy work. Professional secretaries no longer just "take a letter," don't forget. A third of us supervise other employees; more than 90 percent use word-processing software; 48.5 percent of us train other employees.

* Think of me as a member of your team, not just a subordinate. I work in the trenches where the real work gets done. My opinions and feedback can be of great value to you.

* Tell me what I do right -- not just what I do wrong. Most of my work takes place behind the scenes; you're often my only source of positive input.

* Finally, don't turn me into your errand-runner, laundress, baby sitter, cleaning woman, children's tutor, personal shopper or social secretary. I am a professional. I have the right to be treated as one.

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