cornicus (cornicus) wrote in workangst,

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Not so much a gripe as a call for advice

I've been in my new position as receptionist since March 29th, with one week of company wide orientation, the start of my official training as receptionist began April 5th, it was for 2 weeks. The real start of my first week "on my own" was this past Monday the 19th. Aside from routing the calls and greeting anyone who comes in + our policy that everyone needs a guest badge of sorts and an escort into the building. I've handled one or two replacement employee badges (another of my permanent duties is the making of the badges) I also input mileage data for all of the company cars. I take in and distribute all incoming mail, and I stamp and ready all outgoing mail. I feel as though I'm on top of these duties with little to no need for assistance (sometimes questions about badges and some squirrely phone calls)Also as an aside, we're moving into a new building in June wherein I'll have a new phone system to learn, new extensions, make new business cards for everyone, AND next week I'll have a lot of new badges and paperwork for some people who just got hired. What sucks is that I've heard from some co-workers that my predecessor was often very busy. I'm a little bit concerned about this. Part of me thinks that these tasks are just very simple and there's a possibility that I'm not say ... milking it? Or taking my sweet time? But I fear that I look bad, that my coworkers think I'm not doing enough. I've composed an email to my 2 direct supervisors, but I wonder if here, technically, my 3rd official day as receptionist... is it too soon?

Here is what I have written: (Caroline was the prev. receptionist)
"I was wondering what duties Caroline was in charge of. I’ve been keeping on top of the Vehicle reports, making sure all of the mail is getting out, asking questions when needed, routing all the calls etc. While sometimes I do get a nice surge of information to input, other times it can slow down. I know that next week is new hire orientation and I will have a lot on my plate, I’m looking forward to it. I also know that when we move into the new building it’ll be a fun period of adjustment, getting to know the new system, making the business cards etc. I guess the whole purpose of this email is to find out, what sort of permanent activities would you like me to take on? Either now or once we’ve moved. Although with the transition to the new building I realize new responsibilities are going to make themselves known and we just won’t know what they are until we get there. Ultimately I want to let you know I’m ready to help out as much as I possibly can and anything you need to send my way, please do so. I’ll keep in touch if for some reason I get too much going on at one time. "

And lastly, advice/gripe: Caroline used to provide candy. I've heard this, and I was told whether or not I want to, that that's up to me. Caroline also used to bake a cake for EVERY SINGLE BIRTHDAY in the office. Now, if we were an office of 10-20 people sure that'd be reasonable. But this is a 300+ employee operation. I have 20 birthdays for the month of April alone. I do not have the money budget or the time budget for candy and cakes. I also feel like this is making me look bad or causing some kind of resentment. AND I don't relly like having candy available, if it's in front of me I'LL eat too much of it and I don't need that. I'd prefer if when I can afford it to offer them fresh cherries or pistachios. I don't know what to do... I need advice!
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I would probably say to not send that just yet. It sounds to me like you already have a pretty good idea of what the job duties are (more than most people have by day 3), so I would just let it play out for a bit. After you've been on the job for a few weeks, after the move and things settle into "normal", if you still have questions, then pose them. Your tone is fine, I just think it's too soon. As far as the candy and cake, purely optional in my view. If you want to do cakes (and only if you want to), you could do one a month that covers all of the birthdays for that month. If you want to have a candy jar (again, purely optional) you could fill it with something you don't like and wouldn't be tempted to eat.
I think you're right. I really appreciate it, thank you! I do feel a lot better getting some input. I also really like the idea of monthly treats for birthdays. That could work. Better for all of our waistlines anyway! :)
The treats don't necessarily have to be cake, either. In my department, we have pot luck breakfasts once a month. One of my favorite things to bring is the makings for yogurt/fruit/granola parfaits. Very little prep....bring all the ingredients and plastic cups, and they make their own.
I wouldn't send it just yet. You're still in the early stages of your job, they honestly might be going a bit easy on you. It sounds to me that Caroline was a bit of a busy body, don't feel you have to live up to those standards at all. Go along as you are, you'll find more and more to do.

I strongly suggest not sending that email, but instead asking your bosses or co workers directly if there is anything that you can help with as you've finished anything, or ask your bosses to check whether you're covering everything, just in case. Say you feel you're missing something, but get them to talk to you, the email might just backfire.

Don't feel you need to be "the new Caroline". Just be you :-) and if you get things done super quickly, congrats!
I would hold off on sending the e-mail until you have been with the company for a month or so. I have found it useful to try to get a feel for the "lay of the land", not imposing any changes until I knew how things worked. That way, I could decide what needed changing and what could be left alone as is. You will have plenty of time to figure it out as you go along.