Pitts and Bennett honored during IAAP event

Rhonda Pitts cried Monday afternoon, but it wasn’t because she was sad.

The Blount County Commission secretary was named the 2007 administrative professional of the year by the Blount County International Association of Administrative Professionals.

The announcement came during the IAAP’s annual luncheon at the Airport Hilton Monday afternoon. Blount County Assistant Mayor Dave Bennett was named the 2007 Administrative Professional of the year.

Pitts appeared emotional as she spoke at the podium following the announcement. "I just want to thank everyone. I really appreciate so many people," she said.

Pitts said she was first hired when Bill Crisp was county executive/mayor. She recognized the other individuals who were nominated for the award. "There are so many deserving people," she said. "I haven’t been able to do as much as I would have liked."

Pitts thanked the members of the IAAP. "They’ve helped me so much in my career," she said of the Maryville chapter.
Pitts said she was caught off guard because as the winner was described before they announced her name, she knew they were talking about her. "I was sitting there thinking ‘This can not be." The more they read, the more my heart was pounding. I was just really, really surprised. It was a great honor," Pitts said. "I respect the people in the chapter so much. I hated I was caught off guard. It just hit me."

Blount County Commission Chairman Robert Ramsey and County Clerk Roy Crawford nominated Pitts for the award. "She is well deserving. She really has a servant’s heart and tries to go out of her way to please everyone she can," Crawford said. "She does a great job."

Pat James, administrative assistant to Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham, described Pitts as conscientious, professional and dedicated. Pitts always tries to make each situation she faces end in a positive way, James said.

"It’s an example to some of the rest of us. Sometimes I just bounce around and Rhonda settles me down. She has a very positive attitude and it’s refreshing. Sometimes things get negative and frustrating. She focuses on the positive and that helps me in handling situations," James said.

The 2006 Executive of the Year, Chris Soro, introduced the 2007 executive of the year, Dave Bennett. Bennett appeared surprised when he realized he was the winner. "I don’t know what to say and I think that’s the first time I’ve ever said that."
Bennett credited his father’s advice for his own success. "I work with a tremendous group of people. My dad said surround yourself with people smarter than you and get out of their way," he said.

Dave Bennett’s wife Fran Bennett said her husband deserves the award. "He deserves it. He is such a hard worker," she said. "I think it says a lot for what he means to the people who work for him."

Nationally known speaker Laura Stack, MBA, CSP addressed the group on making the most of their work time. Stack, known as the Productivity Pro, has advised Fortune 500 companies and appeared on network television news shows speaking about productivity and efficiency.

Stack gave the listeners tips for being more efficient. For starters, she said to "Show your technology who is boss" and to "Learn how to concentrate and stay focused." Often this means not answering emails when they pop up and not socializing with co-workers when first starting the day.

Stack told the crowd that the person most often interfering with their work was themselves. "You interrupt yourself far more than anyone else," she said.

Often people are distracted by co-workers, emails, phone calls or just by not controlling their own time. "A task takes all day long because you took off in twenty different directions," she said.

If a random thought comes to mind, jot it down and get back to work. "If I think it, I ink it," she said.

Stack also said to communicate constantly and ask questions. Often this means letting the supervisor know exactly where you are in the list of requests that has been made.

"Communication is in how you phrase things," she said. "You have to help other people prioritize their requests."

Stack told the listeners they should also plug their productivity leaks. "To what extent are there emergencies and to what extent are those situations where I procrastinated?" she said. "There are two pains, the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Now it’s 5 o’clock and I’ve bought myself a late night."

Stack said building consistent personal routines and improving efficiency also helps productivity. Often people come into work at 8 a.m. and do not start being productive until 9 or 10 a.m. because they are answering emails, getting coffee and socializing. This is when a person’s energy level is the greatest and therefore they should try to be the most productive, she said.

Stack also advised that before leaving work, individuals should jot down what needs to be done the next day. She also told the listeners that by doing the most difficult or challenging parts of their job early in the day, the rest of the day goes by quicker and better.

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