By Anja van den Berg
Administrative assistants are often the unsung heroes of the workplace. They are the ones who keep the office running smoothly or the boss happy and well prepared to do her or his job. They can multitask, possess numerous skills, and must face a variety of expected and unexpected challenges. The ability to face any task and set it right is one of the things that really separate the great administrative assistant from the merely good.
What are the three key challenges that office administrators face in the workplace, and how can they go about overcoming them effectively?
- They can be seen as someone of lesser importance
Office administration is a complex role which requires a range of professional skills, including time management, interpersonal ability, customer service and organisation for results, says Irene Lopez, Administration Coordinator at Dubai National Air Transport Association. Somehow, the administrative assistant position has been classified as a starting position for most companies, says Kayla LaSaga, life coach and career consultant. “What most people don’t understand is that being an administrative assistant is a professional career in which people can excel. Administrative assistants are educated individuals with a multitude of skills.”
To showcase their abilities, Office Administrators should seek platforms where they could feature their skills, for instance requesting to deliver presentations at symposiums, contributing to strategic planning or by offering an alternative plan to solve a seemingly unsolvable organisational problem.
- They can be expected to know everything, even when not included in meetings and private conversations
There are meetings and conference calls all day in which they are not included. Yet, administrative assistants are expected to know what’s going on at all times. “Despite their inabilities to make executive decisions, they need to know more than the typical employee,” says LaSaga. To be an information hub, the administrative assistant needs to widen his/her circle of influence, ask the right questions, build trust and build networks.
- They can be expected to always be available
Administrative assistants are natural multitaskers. They can be mid-bite into their lunch while confirming an upcoming meeting, attending to the defective internet connection and filing the CEO’s sensitive documentation. “Knowing when to draw the line is half the battle because some co-workers can make a situation sound so much more urgent than it really is,” LaSaga says. “For their own benefit, administrative assistants must learn to make judgement calls based on the situation at hand. They will always agree to address the problem, but sometimes they decide that attending to it after lunch works best for them.”
Administrative assistants don’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed. “Well, they do, but they can never let that show,” says Peter Jones, Recruitment Consultant and author for The Job Network.
“No matter what is happening in the office or your personal life, a smile must always spread across your face, a skip must always be in your step, and pleasantness must radiate from your voice.
“You must exude happiness even when everyone else is down in the dumps. That can be one of the biggest challenges since it is not always easy to get a handle on your emotions. People who can’t, might not be cut out for a career as an administrative assistant.”
The Job Network: https://www.thejobnetwork.com/10-of-the-biggest-administrative-assistant-job-challenges/