Admins As Super Partners: Unleashing Success
Discover the transformative role of administrative professionals and how their strategic partnership can drive unprecedented success in the business world.
When we think about business movies or TV shows, we often picture office rooms, cubicles, and smoky client meetings (especially in older films). And who can forget the portrayal of the secretary? Over time, their role has evolved, and they’ve been called receptionists, front desk associates, office administrators, and more. Unfortunately, these portrayals haven’t always shown administrative professionals in a positive light. Sometimes, they were depicted as making constant mistakes or doing nothing at all — like Karen from Will and Grace, who was hilarious, but not the best TV admin.
In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape, the administrative staff is no longer confined to stereotypical images of receptionists or secretaries from the ’60s. They have become indispensable strategic partners who excel at connecting the dots, boosting productivity, and fostering a positive and inclusive work culture. Let’s explore why businesses need administrative staff and how empowering them can unlock their full potential for the benefit of an entire agency.
What Everyone Thinks Admins and Assistants Do
I started out as a wait staff when I was in high school, and from there, it was customer service jobs until I stumbled into a receptionist position. Then to Office Manager, Personal Assistant, and eventually, Executive Assistant — so I’ve seen a lot of different aspects of the administrative world. However, back in my waitressing days, I had a pretty cookie-cutter version of what an administrative staff looked like — answering phones, getting coffee, taking notes, and making copies. Some roles still only do those things and are extremely valuable. I also know what the position can grow to be.
Curious if my first idea was similar to others, I went to WeCreate’s very own OG administrative staff — Natalia — and asked her the same question.
Me: “Before you started here, what did you think an administrative staff did?”
Natalia: “I thought of administrative staff as doing things like scheduling, answering phone calls, knowing the answers or being able to find the answers.. etc.”
Now Natalia has been at WeCreate for over 8 years, maneuvering and orchestrating what the team needs to move forward with their days and tasks — and rocking it.
Me: “Now that you have been doing this for so long yourself, how would you describe what an admin does?”
Natalia: “Administrators get to use their strengths in a way that allows others to use their talents and creativity without the “burden” of having to deal with all of the logistics. My job is to make other people’s jobs better! I get to help facilitate internal initiatives, experiments, problem-solving, team-building experiences, defining, fine-tuning, and documenting standard procedures, being a support role for leadership.”
When researching job responsibilities for this position, it becomes apparent that they can vary significantly. My favorite one came from Indeed, as their description is that the role revolves around supporting others. By delving further into the untapped potential of this position, you’ll be astounded by the valuable contributions it can offer.
When you use “administrative assistant” as a synonym for just scheduling and mail opening; you are doing your company a true disservice.
What Admins and Assistants Actually Do
Let’s talk about administrative staff from an ROI standpoint. This article from Persona does a nice job of breaking down the numbers of the cost of salary and time saved. In even simpler terms, admins are there to save one of life’s most precious commodities — time.
By utilizing your admin to their fullest capacity, you’re allowing them to expand your efficiency. Freeing up others to take on more time and tasks they need to create revenue for the business. What sounds more efficient when you have a potential client coming in?
Ask someone from the sales department to stop selling and networking to create a presentation for the meeting, rent the space, check on the tech, and make sure all the tiny details are in order.
Or, letting the sales department keep selling, while a superstar admin comes and takes care of all the details?
Leveraging the abilities of administrative staff can lead to significant savings in both time and money. By allocating different responsibilities to your admin staff, you free up other employees to focus on their core competencies. This results in a more streamlined workflow, reduced inefficiencies, and increased productivity. Over time, these savings accumulate — leading to substantial financial and emotional benefits.
Another potentially untapped superpower admins offer is being the ambassador of company culture. I talked about this in my last article, but creating and maintaining an authentic positive work culture is crucial. We are perfectly placed to be innovators of culture since we do connect so many dots and navigate the company differently than most.
Allowing your admin to coordinate team days, manage client and team gifts, and giving them the autonomy to reach out and cultivate relationships within the team can boost morale and foster a sense of camaraderie and belonging. By entrusting these tasks to administrative staff, businesses can ensure a healthy and vibrant work environment that encourages collaboration, creativity, and productivity. In addition, most of the time, it is one aspect of the job that is loved the most.
Natalia: “I love that at WeCreate, the admin team gets to have such a big voice in the company culture. I love working with the whole leadership team and partnering with the cultural initiatives that impact the team.”
What Makes Administrators Great
A few things make a good admin. At the heart of it, they’re the people who keep the office and company running smoothly. If you’re working with an admin and the papers are always filed, the calendar is seamless, and the staff enjoy the office snacks — you have a good administrative staff.
When your papers are not just filed, but organized for your meetings without prompting, you’re on the right track. Then when your calendar isn’t just updated but also strategically scheduled with prep and downtime, it’s time to unlock your admins superhuman-productivity-potential.
An admin allows you to utilize your most valuable asset, time. You must allow admins not just to be a cog in the machine, but a strong strategic partner that wants to help learn and grow for themselves and the business. A Harvard Business Review states as the boss or manager, you must learn to delegate tasks wisely, and the administrative staff is proactively looking for ways to improve processes and create more efficient workflows. This can be hard for a lot of business owners, CEOs, managers, and people overall. However, if you start fostering a great working relationship between yourself and your admin, it gets easier and easier.
What Can You Do for Your Organization?
As a leader, supporting your administrative staff for better performance and growth can take several forms.
- Provide them with opportunities for professional development including:
- Offer in-house training
- Cover the costs of online courses, or workshops relevant to their duties.
- Encouraging them to attend industry seminars and networking events.
- Foster an environment of open communication where they feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns.
- Allow them to take the reins on creating and maintaining that awesome work environment.
Trust that as they see things differently, they can be a great thermometer for workplace culture and the health of the company.
Most importantly – empower them with the right tools and technology to enable them to perform their tasks more efficiently. There are some fantastic guides and tools on how to support your administrative staff. I personally subscribe to newsletters from Go Burrows Leader Assistant Resources and Practically Perfect PA.
By taking these steps, you not only enhance the performance of your administrative staff but also contribute to their personal growth and job satisfaction.
What Not To Do
A survey from Jobsage shows that 3 out of 4 American workers have been “promoted” to an increased workload without an adjustment of position or additional compensation. This is not how you unlock your Super-Admin — this is how you create a villain in your story.
You need to take a moment before adding new demands to your current admins or hiring admins for the first time. Get to know your admins and their professional development desires. Don’t assume because they are talented in one area, they should increase duties in a similar one.
ALL THAT TO SAY…
As a proud member of the incredible administrative staff system, I may be a little biased, but there’s no denying how truly amazing the potential is with admins. Throughout my journey, I’ve come to realize that a nurturing work environment coupled with a desire to grow in your field can lead to unparalleled success. It has been an exhilarating experience of continuous learning, where I strive not only to excel at my role, but also to contribute to the company’s forward momentum.
Throughout my working life, I have had the opportunity to see some pretty amazing relationships between teams and administrators. Some of those admins could even be described as Office Ninjas! Do you have any extraordinary superhuman administrators in your life? Or are you one yourself? Let’s swap some stories on my LinkedIn — Super-Admins: Unite!
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February 19, 2024