Celebrate that silent ‘chief executive’ in your office

May 26, 2022

Every waking day of an administrative professional bursts with duties that pull you in all directions. It is often difficult to describe how a typical day would look like because of the different and often-unforeseen challenges we face. Our tasks vary from day to day and our work revolves around all departments, so we brush shoulders with almost everyone in the workplace. From the receptionist to the transport and travel desk, the finance and human resources team, and from procurement, facilities. And administration to security and office cleaners.

Despite its broad nature the administrative profession continues to evolve and has become more demanding and challenging as one is obligated to handle tasks that may be over and above their job description.

So is an administrative support professional-just a secretary?

The modern-day misconception is that working in an administrative role means you are only an assistant or just a secretary. Well, that is far from the truth! An administrative position can be fulfilling and a legitimate career choice. Administrative professionals are the foundation of the organization, they enable each team member get the job done and serve as a liaison between the supervisor and the rest of the team. An administrative professional is a critical part of any team- they are often considered the glue that binds everyone together.

I am fortunate enough to know my team members, and this has helped me build my relationships and work well with others. I have watched my team come together during the life of the project. I must say that we have gelled well. Listening helps me learn, and has helped me understand my teammate’s strengths and weaknesses to better support them. What’s more, I know that trust is the glue that holds relationships together. But wait, does administrative support end at that? There is more!

To succeed in any career, one needs dedication, a positive attitude, and a profound desire to learn and improve. The ever-evolving administrative support profession requires relieving the supervisor and the team of tasks, especially procedures that do not require their involvement. Organizations are now moving at such a speed that flexibility is becoming a real sought-after skill. Get yourself in a mindset that allows for constant change. Whether it means having the ability to overcome stress or simply to adjust to changes quickly. Working with partners means working with their schedules. While planning partner meetings, you can undertake all processes to the end only to receive a cancellation or postponement. Quite usual with government-involved activities! Sometimes, you face tight timelines and last-minute requests that require you to move at extraordinary speed. At the end, you make it happen!

Working with people makes you an influencer to your colleagues, organization, and stakeholders. They ask for your opinion and rely on you for guidance. Administrative professionals need to align their goals with the team and organization and work well with people. We need to see ourselves as part of a team and cultivate skills like advising, collaboration, communication, empathy, flexibility, negotiating, patience and trustworthiness.

Successful administrative professionals have a good grasp of the daily office operations and assume an extensive range of responsibilities and initiatives. They are multifaceted, versatile, and understand organizational goals while building strategic and trusted partnerships with everyone in the organization. They often make important decisions like purchasing, advising managers on budgets, activities, and proposing measures for better projects management. The administration goes beyond secretarial duties.

The administrative profession is evolving, and we are by all measures management professionals. It is no longer only administrative tasks but strategic partners with our supervisors and teams. Remember that you are a boss in your own somewhat invisible space. You are a silent chief executive officer, and you must be ready for change!

Administrative Professionals Day (also known as Secretaries Day or Admin Day) is a day observed yearly in a small number of countries. In 1952, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Charles Sawyer, proclaimed June 4 as the National Secretaries Week. However, in 2000, the name changed to Administrative Professionals and moved to Wednesday of the last week of April. It recognizes all administrative professionals who work silently and diligently behind the scenes to ensure that the office is organized and efficient.