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IDear Workforce-I Should I Tell My Administrative Assistant She's Just an Administrative Assistant

Provide constructive criticism where appropriate. But don't forget the positive feedback.
July 16, 2000
Related Topics: Performance Appraisals, Dear Workforce

Dear Workforce:

I have an Administrative Assistant who acts and thinks that she is above what she actually is. She's a terrific worker, but I think she perceives her position to be higher than what it actually is -- an administrative assistant. How do I deal with this? How do I tell her without hurting her morale, or impacting her productivity?

Unfortunately, being an admin assistant is what we can currently offer her. She works in a department with three "major players" and she is the only support they have. By working so closely with the three of them, she's beginning to think she's on the same level along with them. They are not about to expand her job, they just want to "let her down" back to admin assistant level easily. Her review is coming up. Would this be a good idea to go over her job description again? But it's about the attitude, though, that's getting in the way and not her performance.

-- Rosanna


A Dear Rosanna:

Sure, this would be a good idea. Try to do it in a way that's both direct (don't beat around the bush) but also positive and reinforcing of her fantastic work. After all, the last thing you want to do is leave her disappointed, hurt and thinking that her work isn't contributing.

Go through her performance review with her. When you discuss her work, keep the discussion to work only. Don't bring up the negatives. Let her know how much you appreciate her work, as do the "three players."

Then, when you get to the part of the performance review that's about attitude, explain that you appreciate her enthusiasm, but that the three musketeers are the head honchos, and no one else is. Explain that her current position has limits, and those limits include realizing she's not yet on the same level with the top brass.

By the way, for lots more on performance appraisals, including samples, go to and click on "performance appraisals" on the right.


SOURCE: Todd Raphael, Online Editor for Workforce.

E-mail your Dear Workforce questions to Online Editor Todd Raphael at, along with your name, title, organization and location. Unless you state otherwise, your identifying info may be used on and in Workforce magazine. We can't guarantee we'll be able to answer every question.


 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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