Now that Administrative Professionals Week has come to a close, I wanted to reflect on my admin-related experiences over the years.
Fresh out of college, I was the admin. I answered the front desk phone at my PR agency, processed my boss’ expenses, and set up meeting logistics in addition to my account management responsibilities. I will never forget the day I hopped in a cab and drove from New York City to Raleigh, NC because a client needed a contract with a wet signature and the mail wouldn’t get it there on time.
As my career grew, I was fortunate to share an admin with my team. This woman worked long hours behind the scenes to ensure that we could all do our jobs effectively. I was always low on the totem pole in the admin’s eyes, so I went out of my way to express gratitude and engender her goodwill. She once told me she wished I was the boss, and the comment made my day.
Another admin with whom I worked had the most prestigious role in the whole organization besides her boss, the CEO. She was frustrated with her life of alternating mindless and firefighting tasks, so I said: “You do realize you have the ear of the CEO, and that makes your opinion more valuable than anyone else’s.” She hadn’t thought about it that way, but it was true.
Admins Continue to Juggle Mightily
For the last four years, Staples has issued an online survey in honor of Administrative Professionals’ Day in April. This year’s results, which featured responses from both admins and non-admins, highlight the growing workload of administrative assistants across the United States and Canada. More than half of admins support more staff than the previous year, and many admins are taking on responsibilities above and beyond their job descriptions, including budget and payroll (46.7 percent), human resources (43.9 percent), and social media (23.1 percent).
Admins were rated as better creative problem solvers (57.4 vs. 42.5 percent) and more tech-savvy (43.4 vs. 29 percent) than their bosses. Respondents also said admins have a better sense of humor (58.7 vs. 46.1 percent), are better team players (61.5 vs. 44.4 percent), and are more likely to be described as a friend (44.3 vs. 29.4 percent) than the boss. And in an era when most change jobs every few years, admins are loyal. Close to half (45.6 percent) have been with their current company for six or more years.
Support for Admins Takes Over Social Media
I joined with Staples to co-host #CelebrateAdmins, a Twitter chat to voice support for admins who give so much and yet don’t always receive the appreciation they deserve. It was touching to see admins band together to empower one another, and also managers posting photos and raising virtual toasts to their right-hand men and women. Here are some highlights from the discussion:
A successful small business is only as good as their support staff. It's that simple. #CelebrateAdmins
Got a "thank you" from two of my bosses - who needs flowers when they take the time to express gratitude? #CelebrateAdmins
Humor is essential for A) keeping the mood light, and B) diffusing tension. Admins are the masters at both! #CelebrateAdmins
Occasionally you just have to shrug your shoulders... there are only so many mountains you can move in one day. #CelebrateAdmins
Virtual assistants work for smaller tasks like reminders for meetings, quick access to phone #'s & emails. #CelebrateAdmins
Some tasks could be done virtually, but others need a personal touch, human intuition and decision making. #CelebrateAdmins
It's hard to find a job where you can stay 35 years anymore. #CelebrateAdmins
You (admins) have so many things going on at once that it is imperative to be organized. .#CelebrateAdmins
(You must show) empathy for employees, compassion, understanding and professionalism at all times! #CelebrateAdmins
My boss wasn't a team player but I made him look like one ;) #CelebrateAdmins