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To tell people I'm not his secretary!

(41 Posts)
JungleInTheRumble Fri 03-Mar-17 02:31:13

Ok so I think this may annoy a few people so just for the record - I have no beef with secretaries, being a good secretary is not easy and obviously the job they do is invaluable to a company.

Buuuut I. Am. Not. A. Secretary! I've spent a good few years working on my professional qualifications and it gets my goat when people assume I'm my bosses secretary.

If someone asks me directly "are you his secretary" I'll politely correct them and direct them to speak to one of the admin people about whatever they are asking (my boss doesn't have a dedicated secretary).

But there's one woman who has never asked she has just assumed that I'm his secretary (I noticed that people only started directing admin work to me after she joined so I think she must be the one telling people I'm his secretary).

She has just emailed me with a load of admin forms to fill in (sent only to me and the actual secretaries with all the bosses cc'd) would I be unreasonable to reply to her email saying I'm not his secretary? I have an email signature which clearly indicates I'm not a secretary so idk, maybe she's just never read it!

RedBullBlood Fri 03-Mar-17 02:34:58

Why are you wondering if it would be unreasonable to let someone know your position in a company?
If someone mistook you for a doctor or a lion tamer, wouldn't you just correct them?

Lweji Fri 03-Mar-17 02:36:43

Do people actually know who to give admin requests to?
I'd think that having a named person or email would help everyone.

JungleInTheRumble Fri 03-Mar-17 02:40:25

I guess I don't want to appear rude. I probably just need to get better at saying no...

RedBullBlood Fri 03-Mar-17 02:50:26

It's not rude. Dear X, admin requests are to be sent to the secretaries and not (your position here).

lalalalyra Fri 03-Mar-17 02:51:01

If someone has told her you are the admin person for your boss then she'll never know otherwise unless you tell her.

OneTitWonder Fri 03-Mar-17 02:55:32

I work for the CEO of a huge organisation. My job is chief of staff of all her office staff, which includes a secretary and a PA. Mine is a very senior position.

I am often mistaken for a secretary/admin person/PA.

In response, I simply say, I am not X's secretary, but I do supervise her secretary and other staff, and can direct your enquiry/issue/matter to one of them should you so require.

Usually clarifies the situation fairly quickly and without anyone feeling too awkward.

JungleInTheRumble Fri 03-Mar-17 03:00:08

Yes, that would be the best response really but this place is a little disorganised and I'm not sure who should be doing this work. The secretary for some of the other bosses seems to spend a lot of time speaking to people on the phone about her separate buy and sell business so perhaps I'll direct to her on the basis that she seems to have plenty of free time lol.

RedBullBlood Fri 03-Mar-17 03:11:12

Well it seems odd that no-one seems to know who does what, but that's by the by. All you need to do is let the person who sends you this stuff that it's not in your remit and it's up to her to find out where it goes.

TheMaddHugger Fri 03-Mar-17 05:45:24

I swear I've read this before. Must be a common problem.
(((((((Hugs)))))))))) OP

stonecircle Fri 03-Mar-17 06:10:08

Hmmm. You may have spent years gaining your professional qualifications, but perhaps it's time you did some assertiveness training? How difficult can it be for you to identify who is meant to do your boss's admin and very politely ask this woman to send future requests to that person? Or forward her email to the right person, saying 'I believe this is for you' and cc the woman in?

Cheby Fri 03-Mar-17 06:20:37

This used to happen to me a lot. I work in finance, and aged 27 I had a relatively senior role working as part of a multidisciplinary team travelling round the country meeting with partner organisations. I can't tell you how many times I was asked if I would be taking the minutes or making the cups of tea.

I felt awkward about putting people right at first but after maybe the 5th time it happened I just got pissed off and would (politely) correct them straight away.

It's old fashioned and misogynistic to make that kind of assumption. I would occasionally attend meetings with a male PA (younger than me by 5/6 years) and no one ever made that assumption about him, despite that actually being his job. That was a bit of an eye opener for me.

IamFriedSpam Fri 03-Mar-17 06:28:01

Of course you wouldn't be unreasonable to reply saying "actually my role is X, but you can direct admin requests to mr/miss Y"

bibbitybobbityyhat Fri 03-Mar-17 08:33:15

Wasn't someone else asking this exact same question yesterday? With the identical disclaimer "I have nothing against secretaries ... "

I must say I find it odd that two women who are doing well in their professions can't work out that they would not be unreasonable to politely let a third party know what their job is! Quite baffling.

PastysPrincess Fri 03-Mar-17 08:40:49

I totally understand; I have been referred to in an email as the Process Admin girl. angry I have no problem with Admin work but I'm a Data Analyst.

Unfortunately I didn't say anything at the time as I was new so it festered.

I would definitely say something now. I also wanted to scream "'Im a grown woman not a girl!"

icanteven Fri 03-Mar-17 08:52:14

You're being very slightly ridiculous here.

If you were a heart surgeon and a doctor referred a lung cancer patient to you, would you hesitate before emailing the doctor to correct the error?

For that matter, would a man hesitate before correcting an error like this?

Email this person and say:

Hi Person,

You sent me some material today that is for the admin staff. As this has happened before, you might not be aware that I am the senior accountant, and not on the admin team in any capacity.



DO NOT APOLOGISE. She is factually wrong. She is calling you Mary when your name is Helen, so just woman up and fix it.

expatinscotland Fri 03-Mar-17 08:55:20

What OneTit said. Just direct her to the pool of admin.

Bluntness100 Fri 03-Mar-17 08:56:29

Ask your boss who is responsible for doing that admin work (I also find it strange you don't know) and then just email her back and say nicely hi, can you send these requests to x in future, my role is y. If you don't know who is responsible, don't ask and don't say anything, then I'm unsure how she is expected to know.

myoriginal3 Fri 03-Mar-17 08:58:51

well if you don't even know who is responsible for his admin, how do you expect someone outside of the team to know?

Astro55 Fri 03-Mar-17 08:59:57

I've recently joined an admin team -

The phone list was rubbish - no titles or duties

The email system didn't have any information other than department - so going that route was impossible

So Jane Smith - phone number
Email Jane Smith- Accounts Department - space for title - phone number etc all blank - lots of people in accounts

It really needs to be made easier and clearer for new people so theY can be effective - it probably isn't her fault -

I'd speak to the Admin manager and ask her manager to make the systems clearer

Astro55 Fri 03-Mar-17 09:00:45

Oh - and I left very quickly as it was so badly organized

CruCru Fri 03-Mar-17 09:02:42

I like icanteven's email.

NessieArd Fri 03-Mar-17 09:06:10

Oh YANBU - this has happened to me (esp when I was younger) as I am usually the only woman and always the youngest in the room. No-one has ever taken it badly when I correct their misconception.

BalloonSlayer Fri 03-Mar-17 09:07:35

I'd suggest:

Dear xx

Apologies for the quick email - I'm in a rush.

I am not yy's secretary, he doesn't have one. He will either deal with this himself, or it will be dealt with by one of the admin team. Sorry, don't have time to find out who exactly.

Kind regards, Jungle

I expect others would call the "in a rush" bit a cop out, and I expect they are right, but I think it's quite a good way of making it clear you are not forwarding the email to the right person for her, without seeming rude.

BalloonSlayer Fri 03-Mar-17 09:08:56

Sorry I think on reflection my imaginary email should have said You will need to sent it to him, or to one of the admin team to make it crystal clear that you won't be sending it. grin

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