Happy Tuesday everyone! It was another fantastic day at the Administrative Professional Conference, and I can’t wait to tell you about it.

It was an exciting morning as we learned who the winner of the American Management Association’s Innovation Award. The award “celebrates outstanding business examples of problem solving and innovation performed by administrative professionals and office support staff” and was awarded to Kathy Fossetta! By suggesting and them implementing a significant and innovated pager system at her workplace, she saved her company $300,000! Kathy told the crowd, “If you believe in an idea, don’t give up!”

Our keynote speaker was up next and we were in for a treat! Actress, comedian, and advocate Maysoon Zayid…who happens to have Cerebral Palsy. Zayid’s work spans the spectrum from co-founding a comedy festival (the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival) to working with disabled and orphaned children in refugee camps in the Palestinian territories using art to deal with trauma and bridge the gap between disabled and non-disabled children. 

Zayid’s keynote was laugh-out-loud hilarious (I’ve been repeating the mother-in-law joke all day) while imparting some serious messages. Zayid pointed out the lack of disabled actors on television and in the movies; highlighting that when we look at disability on screen we have a break from reality. Claire Danes played professor, doctor and autistic activist Temple Grandin on screen, but then glides down the red carpet. Zayid asked: “Isn’t it time to have a disability on television that can’t be healed?” Zayid challenged the crowd about disabilities in the workplace, saying that accommodating people adds, it doesn’t detract, and we should “make inclusion not about obligation, but about the fact that it makes a better workplace.”

After a brief break (and pictures with Zayid!) it was time to head to the morning concurrent sessions. This morning I attended OfficeTeam’s An Insider’s Guide to 2015 Administrative Salaries and Hiring Trends. Kelly Workman of OfficeTeam walked us through the data and findings from their just-published Administrative Hiring Trends and Salary Guide 2015 which we all received a copy of.

Great news – the 2015 outlook is that there is a 3.4% average increase for starting salaries across the administrative field. Compensation for some positions, including HR assistants, is expected to exceed the national average. Workman shared that US employers are willing to pay more for certain skills including: a certified administrative professional designation, MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) certifications, and the ability to speak multiple languages…the latter for which employers may pay up to 12% more for.

Workman highlighted national hiring trends: competition for the best people is heating up, companies are shoring up key roles, and diverse industries are hiring. Skills and attributes sought by hiring managers are: Skills and attributes sought: communication strength, tech skills, initiative, industry experience, professionalism. She shared the fastest growing industries for admin hires around the country, with healthcare and manufacturing topping many regional lists…and an interesting tidbit is that nonprofit hiring for office professionals is heating up in New England. Workman told the session attendees, “Your skill sets are in high demand today! It’s a candidate’s market, it really is!”

The second session I attended this afternoon was The Art and Science of Communication presented by Pamela Green. The session opened with great questions from the audience about communication issues they have at the office, from dealing with a new boss who has a vastly different communication style than you do (happy-go-lucky vs business-y) to my favorite question of the day: “How do you effectively communicate with a narcissist?” (Answer? Sometimes you just can’t)

Green’s message throughout was to know your value and your own power, and to not give that up. Remember that you are very valuable to those you report to – you have skills that they don’t! Why is communication training important? Green highlighted that 65% of performance problems at work happen because of some type of conflict and lack of control…and often that has to do with communication. And communication is more than what’s said, it’s also body language.

She shared several key tips such as “Determine which rule you’re going to live by: must say something or have something to say” and “Get in the right C.A.B (Conduct, Attitude, and Behavior.” Communicating with respect is important, and we should assume positive intent in interactions…and we should reciprocate by being present and deeply listening. And a tip for the ladies in the room (because apparently this is not a male trait): don’t tip your head when talking or listening, in body language it diminishes your power! 

Last up on my training agenda today was Advanced Minute-Taking for Experienced Minute Takers led by Rhonda Scharf. It was a packed room, as minutes are serious business – as they are the official record of the decisions that were made and the rationale behind those decisions. Remember, minutes from formal meetings such as board meetings, corporate meetings, etc. can be used in legal proceedings so it’s important that they are done correctly! “Shorthand is a dying art” according to Scharf so it’s important to capture they key information without having to capture the actual transcript. The minutes become the official memory of the meeting so accuracy is key, and so is being unbiased. Tip: Saying “a lengthy discussion ensued” in the minutes is biased (your perception is that the discussion was lengthy).

Scharf highlighted that many organizations miss a summary of the discussion when minutes are taken, just recording what decision happened. It’s important that the summary is included to flesh out the discussion that led to the decision. How to remember if something is important for minutes? “Will it matter in 2 minutes, 2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years? IF so, it must appear in your final copy of the minutes.” Things like “the chair welcomed everyone to the meeting” can go!

By that time my brain was full, and it was time to get dressed for the Tuesday night party! The theme this year was International Flair - and there were some fantastic international representation in attire! Great food, fantastic dancing, and connecting with new friends made the night a great success!