“We pay you to do your job, not to think, not to give suggestions, and not to try to streamline procedures.” Sound familiar? Have you ever been told something like this to your face?
I like efficiency. I hate useless procedures that are done because “it has always been done this way.” I don’t know if most assistants are this way, but I enjoy trying to make the office that I am working in the best it can be. I take great pride in being the best at my job, no matter what position or company I am in. I guess that is just my personality and I am starting to think it is a personality flaw instead of an asset.
I think it just goes back to the overall mindset that administrative assistants, receptionists, secretaries, and office assistants (office workers in general) have no real value in the workplace. This sad error in judgement keeps coming up over and over again. I applaud the employers that actually value their office staff and consider their suggestions and even implement them if they will help the company at large. In my experience and how I’ve been treated it seems like some supervisors just want you to be quiet and do you job and ignore the fact that you actually have good ideas that can possibly really help the company.
Why does this happen? Is it an ego thing? It is because the supervisors themselves didn’t think of these better procedures so they don’t want to implement something that a lowly assistant thought up? I do not have the answers.
I’ve tried very hard to help my company save money since they seem to be complaining often on the lack of it. Sometimes as an assistant we all deal with the lack of pay since so many of these positions pay so little despite all the duties that keep piling up. I have heard it several times over my career…more or less, “you don’t deserve a raise” or “we don’t have the money for a raise.” Due to this, if I see the ability for my company to save money I bring it up so that maybe one day there will be enough money for office staff to have a raise. These suggestions seem to always fall of deaf ears. I am either ignored outright or I’m told, “Well, we have always done it this way so we don’t want to change it.” I just cannot fathom why a company would not want to save money if it doesn’t take much effort, even if the assistant volunteers to set it all up, it still ends up being a ‘no.’
After several of these suggestions being ignored or rejected, be it to save the company money or to streamline procedures to make things better, you start to do exactly what they wanted…you stop thinking. I think it is a true shame to be in a position where you want to do your best and you want to help and you are shut down so many times that you just stop caring and stop thinking and start to do your job like a zombie. The morale of assistants in so many offices may get so low that many start thinking, “oh well, whatever, let The Man get screwed and lose money, it’s just a paycheck to me nowadays.”
Now, I realize that even if you have the best suggestions, sometimes it is not feasible to implement them. I am not trying to say that if you have a great idea to make a procedure more efficient that it automatically should be done. I am not trying to say that if your idea isn’t implemented then you have horrible supervisors and you work for a bad company. There is a line between “We will consider some of your ideas and possibly use some.” to a vibe of “Don’t think, do your job.” In my own experience, some of the simplest things that could have been changed, even to help clients, are not done because the supervisors do not want to change and are caught in the past.
I am sorry, I do not have any suggestions on what to do if you are stuck in this type of “don’t think, do job” situation. Sometimes the only thing is to hang on and try and find another position elsewhere. Yet, we all know that isn’t an easy thing to do and some just don’t want to go into just another assistant position.
Change is hard. We can be upset at our employers not changing the simplest procedures to make it better but we ourselves can be afraid of change too. We can be willing to make changes in our own offices but unwilling to make changes in our own lives over all. This; however, is a topic for a different day. The fear of change…coming to a blog post near you!