Administrative Professionals Often Reflect Their Leaders’ Values

April 21, 2015 | Communication, Leadership, Teamwork

Photo by Keith Bolland on Flickr

Being Administrative Professionals Week, we felt that this topic is timely. Anyone that has ever had a top notch administrative professional provide them with support in their business activities knows their worth. One leader told me that his administrative professional spoke for him. To have someone of this caliber is key to running a great business. However, some leaders through their actions not necessarily words, are not convinced that a friendly, competent, and helpful administrative professional or team of administrative professionals is not important. Nevertheless, we believe that their contribution is invaluable.

Administrative professionals must be friendly. In some cases, these administrative professionals are the first face or voice that someone encounters when interfacing an organization. They are the gatekeeper of the organization. That is why a well kept appearance, friendly tone, and a smile are important. Yes, a smile can be detected in a phone call. Are our customers encountering a phone greeting, “Widgets Inc……” or “Thank you for calling Widgets Incorporated, this is Gertrude Smith, how can I help you?”

Administrative professionals must be competent. Furthermore, they need to have a high level understanding of the organization’s industry, key people at the organization, and its customers. It does not mean that they need to know every detail about the business. They just need to know where to go for an answer. What would we rather hear when calling an organization…”I really have no idea who can help you. Let me transfer you to the owner’s voicemail.” or “I think the best person to help you with your request is Herkemer Jones, our quality director. He’s been with our company for 10 years and been a quality professional for over 20 years”?

Administrative professionals must be helpful. Sometimes, especially in a small business environment, an administrative professional may be the only person that is physically at a location when everyone else is out on business. In this case, the gatekeeper may need to fill other roles from time to time. This means we need to have someone with the mindset of an owner, not a renter. If a customer of Widgets Inc needs to have a sample of their new product shipped overnight because of an urgent need, do we want someone that puts them to marketing voicemail because it is their job to deal with customers or do we want someone that would take time to personally see that the samples are shipped overnight to the customer?

Above, we have demonstrated some of the necessary traits of the type of administrative professional that an organization needs to achieve excellence. However, these traits may not always be engrained in the administrative professional. It is up to us as leaders to make sure that administrative professional candidates read and sign a standards of behavior that highlights appearance, accountability, and communication standards before interviewing. It is up to us as leaders to ask behavior based questions in the interview that help reveal key attributes about an individual to see if they would be a good fit and even better involve other high performing employees to participate in the interviewing process. It is also up to us to provide an effective orientation into the organization. This orientation should highlight not only the organization’s policies and procedures but also discuss the organization’s industry, its departments and key personnel, and customers.  Frequent training that sharpens their skills is also important.

Great administrative professionals often reflect the leaders’ values. Therefore, if we have an administrative professional that does not perform to our standards, we should probably ask ourselves if we are doing everything possible for this administrative professional to not only succeed but achieve excellence.

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