In case you haven't heard, and in case the office manager didn't circle it on the big calendar in the break room, tomorrow (April 22) is Administrative Professionals' Day. That new, bulky name has replaced the Secretary's Day of yore, just like your sweet, quiet 50-something career secretary was replaced by a series of bratty liberal arts school graduates who seem equal parts disgusted and outraged that they have to face the daily indignity of answering your telephone.
So, since that surly kid who brings your coffee in every morning seems to dislike you as much as the surly kid who ignores you from the other side of the breakfast table, this is your chance to use Administrative Professionals' Day to your advantage. Here are a couple of tips for making this your best office holiday ever:
1. Do not ask your assistant to pick up his or her own gift. I know, you're so used to sending your assistant out for gifts for your spouse and kids that it seems like second nature. But unless you're handing over your credit card and saying "go pick out something nice," you are going to have to get the gift yourself. If you simply can't bear to do it, at least ask one of the other assistants in the office.
2. Try to get a gift that is not practical - this means no shiny new filing cabinets, no expensive pens, no monogrammed address books. If you give your assistant a gift that they will only be able to use at work, he or she is entitled to throw it at you. (Please note the assistants' code, Ch. 4, article 7.)
3. Don't slip and refer to it as Secretary's Day. Seriously.
4. An e-card is not a present. An e-card is allowed when it comes from a fellow broke recent college grad friend who lives far away and wants to amuse you for a couple of minutes by sending a funny email.
5. If you can't think of a suitable gift, money is fine.
6. It is not advisable to write any variation of "You should be grateful you still have a job in this economy" on the card, especially if the same is true for you.
7. Acceptable gifts include a nice box of brand name chocolate or candy (unless they're allergic or on a diet and would thus find your gift offensive), perfume (unless they have a reaction to the smell of musk), a gift certificate to Victoria's Secret (unless you've already been warned about the whole sexual harassment thing, or your assistant is a dude), or a dartboard with your headshot on it (unless they already have one). Come to think of it, you should probably just play it safe and give money.
8. Cash is better.
I hope this clears things up. If your assistant continues to hate you even after you have proffered some kind of nice, thoughtful gift, perhaps it would help to remember that while Administrative Professionals' Day only happens once a year, miraculous things can happen when you are nice to your assistant all year round. Happy employees are more productive and loyal employees. And they also give better presents on Boss' Day.
Follow Lilit Marcus on Twitter: www.twitter.com/saveassistants