by Traci L. Fiatte, Group President, Randstad US
The role of the administrative professional is consistently evolving, and specialists in this field must continuously assess and refine their skill sets. Though the responsibilities of an admin can change depending on the size of the company and structure of the organization, aptitude in the following areas can make you an invaluable resource to your office.
Many administrative professionals take an active role in approving expenses, making office purchases and reviewing budgets. Understanding the financial impact of the decisions you make and providing feedback about whether or not your office is on track to reach financial goals will show your impact to the bottom line.
*TIP: If this is not your strong suit, take advantage of the knowledge available to you right in your office. Grab lunch with colleagues in your finance department to review the basics.
Professionals in the administrative field are typically among some of the most organized employees and are often tasked to coordinate and lead projects. This requirement involves setting attainable goals and keeping team members on track in terms of timelines and deliverables.
*TIP: As a project manager, you may need to be firm with people who are not progressing on assignments or meeting timely goals. Always act professionally, and consider a person’s conversation style to be sure your interaction is positive and moves the project forward.
Experience with Technology
Webinar and virtual conferences are quickly becoming the norm as more and more employees work from remote locations. Insight into a session’s setup, including audio and video needs, will allow you to alleviate many office headaches and show your breadth of skills.
*TIP: Once you have learned what works best for your organization, consider working with your information technology team to create a dedicated space for virtual meetings so the equipment will always be available and the setup will be fast and easy.
An Eye for Design
The responsibility for creating executive presentations and internal communications, especially in small companies, often falls on an executive assistant or office manager. Strong proofreading skills and the ability to translate complex information into clear messages is key.
*TIP: Ask your marketing colleagues to create a template for presentations, email communications or memos. Not only will they appreciate your desire to maintain the integrity of the brand’s style, your final products will look consistent and you will spend less time formatting.
Understanding of Business Travel and Cost-Saving Techniques
Although virtual meetings are becoming more popular, people still appreciate the ability to collaborate in-person. Being able to coordinate off-site meetings while successfully negotiating discounted rates for hotel event spaces, food and lodging is critical.
*TIP: Off-site events can become costly, especially for large groups. Begin building relationships with local hotel managers now—this will ensure you are well prepared when brainstorming event options with your executive team. They can also provide recommendations when you are required to plan a meeting in another city.
A Handle on Document Storage
Long gone are the days of filing paper. Today, documents are stored virtually, which can make retrieving them a challenge if they are not organized properly. If the chief financial officer wants to review the costs from last year’s kick-off meeting, you will need to be sure you can retrieve them fast.
*TIP: The New Year is the best time to start fresh. Determine the most effective way to organize your folders, create intuitive file names and share your naming convention formula with those who may be uploading to a shared drive. Be consistent and document how you store files so that anyone can find something quickly if you are away. Providing an insightful roadmap to document retrieval will also cut down on people contacting you when you are out of the office.
Superior People Skills
Though this skill is beneficial for most positions, it is critical for administrative professionals. An office manager is often the first person with whom a visitor interacts. Admins must feel comfortable interacting with executives, vendors and other staff members. Cultural sensitivity is also very important, as the global workforce often presents opportunities for international candidates and guests.
*TIP: There are a host of online resources to assist in communicating to specific personality types. Consider taking a personality assessment, like the DiSC, to see your communication strengths and weaknesses and learn optimal ways to engage with those who fit a different profile.
Professionalism and Confidentiality
Those who assist executives and upper management may learn about organizational decisions and upcoming projects that require confidentiality. It goes without saying that an administrative professional privy to such information must maintain a high level of integrity and discretion.
*TIP: The need for confidentiality can be crucial in certain situations. Those with knowledge of a pending merger or acquisition, for example, may be required to sign a confidentiality agreement. Violations of such agreements can result in serious consequences and should be taken very seriously.
In response to the way today’s customers communicate, call centers are transforming into contact centers where chat-based customer service is becoming standard. The need for service professionals with fast and accurate typing skills is increasing. Brushing up on your technique could tip the scales in your favor during your next job interview.
*TIP: Keep in mind that employers will not be expecting abbreviations and text speak from a service representative. Just like a phone-based agent, a virtual agent’s goal is to be as clear and concise as possible. Someone in this position caters to a wide audience who may or may not be aware of the latest text lingo.
Social Media Savvy
No organization—no matter how small—can be without a Facebook page or website. Admins may be tasked with keeping leadership’s LinkedIn profiles up to date, tweeting on behalf of executives or socializing company news.
*TIP: Create a calendar of social posts so updates can be scheduled frequently without a last-minute scramble. Keep your eye out for interesting, relevant articles or statistics that your customers will find intriguing and schedule them in your queue. Take note of any holidays, especially obscure ones, which could prompt a social post. Think National Employee Appreciation Day, Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day or even Doughnut Day!
Traci L. Fiatte, Group President, Randstad US
Traci is responsible for the strategic direction and business operations of multiple Randstad US businesses, including Commercial Staffing, Strategic Accounts and Life Sciences. Her responsibility includes oversight of all company-owned branch offices in addition to Randstad InHouse Services. Prior to her appointment to Group President in 2013, Traci was the Division President of Strategic and National Accounts; with her primary focus on accelerating the growth and profitability of Randstad’s largest customers. With over 19 years of industry experience, Traci is recognized for conceptualizing many key sales and operational innovations within Randstad and successfully leading teams to turn those innovations into successful businesses. This includes, but is not limited to, new recruiting delivery models based on client size and buying patterns and using “big data” for analytics-based sales approaches. Traci sits on Randstad’s Global Advisory Board and holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.