Challenges Administrative Assistants Face
Last week my manager was out of the office on business, which gave me the opportunity to get a lot of current and future tasks done that I haven’t had the time to fully focus on. As an Administrative Assistant, I truly love what I do. Some people may not understand why anyone would enjoy such a job, but what folks don’t know is that Administrative Assistants wear several hats which require several skills such as problem solving, negotiating, and being a good listener, business writing, as well as being the go between for those Executives we support. We handle everything from scheduling meetings, maintain our executive’s calendar (which can take up most of our day), order supplies, event planning, and office management, greet visitors, travel, expenses, and even copier repair just to name a few. All while keeping our Executive and sometimes multiple Executives on track and at ease. Yet, we’re also human and there are those days when just like anyone else, we can get a little irritated. Last week I had one of those days. So, because I have a conscious I am calling myself out on it. Although it was the truth some people can’t handle the truth and may have felt some type of way more so than others. At the same time, I also want to show support to my fellow Administrative/Executive Assistants by sharing a post I found on “lifehack.org” which gives a pretty good description of what we assistants go through in our positions. This way others can understand and use their emotional intelligence by putting themselves in our shoes the next time irritability seems to have reared its little head.
- They Can Be Forced To Deal with Difficult Personalities
Most administrative assistants have had to deal with a lot of personalities coming in and out of the office space. Generally, most people will be pleasant, while others can be needy, pushy, condescending, arrogant, and have various mood swings, and are ready to unleash their dragon on what can be a polite administrative assistant.
When dealing with a difficult personality, admin staff usually has a witty charm about them. They can help the heated individual calm down, by providing trust and reassuring the angry individual that all will be resolved as soon as possible.
- They Can Be Seen As Someone of Lesser Importance
Somehow, the administrative assistant position has been classified as a starting position for most companies. What most people don’t understand is that being an administrative assistant is a professional career in which most people choose and can excel.
Most administrative assistants have a variety of skills and talents, which allows them to be proud of their careers, their knowledge, and keeps them humble. This makes it easy for them to simply brush off anyone who questions their plan for career advancement. They know how important their role is, and what they bring to the table and the company they work for.
- They Can Be Expected To Clean Up After Everyone
You would think with an office full of grown adults, that people would know how to clean up after themselves. Admin staff knows that their job requires many nurturing duties, but they also know that they have a problem, when they start finding banana peels left to decay on a conference room table.
Administrative assistants deal with messy co-workers by simply placing posters and signs reflecting their co-worker`s unethical workplace hygiene. They may not always call out an individual directly, but the message is clear, dirty kitchen counters and candy wrappers on the floor will not be tolerated.
- They Can Be Expected To Fix Anything and Everything
Did you know that administrative assistants are IT technicians as well? They are expected to fix internet problems, connect employees to network printers, help with software, and then go back to filing paperwork and answering multiple phone lines. Not to mention the amount of times they’ve had to change exploding toner bottles in the photo copier, refill empty ink pads and pens, organize dusty storage units, and more.
Administrative assistants are not certified plumbers, electricians, or technicians of any kind. Yet, they find a way to solve the problem at hand with their amazing problem-solving skills and physical abilities.
- They Can Be Expected To Know Everything, Even When Not Included In Meetings and Private Conversations
There are meetings and conference calls all day, in which they are not included in. Yet, everyone believes they know what’s going on at all times. Everyone thinks the admin staff are watching their every move and reporting back, which is totally untrue. We can care less about who came in late, took a long lunch or who tipped toed out early. Heck, there are times when we fall into those same situations.
Granted there are times when they may know more than typical employees, but the truth is they know just about as much as those employees pretending to befriend them for information. We are not private eyes.
- They Can Be Blamed For Anything That Goes Wrong
They may not be the decision maker, but when everything goes awry, all fingers point to them as the culprit, or at least it’s their responsibility to solve the issue. A good administrator will admit when they are wrong and corrects their mistakes.
To avoid being accused or blamed for anything, most administrative assistants log their work day. They write everything down and create a systematic paper trail for themselves to cover their schedule from start to end, just in case someone is in the mood to play the blame game.
- They Can Be Expected To Always Be Available
One of my biggest pet peeves are those employees who come to you while you’re either on a call or in mid work mode expecting you to drop what you are doing to assist them. Sometimes, administrative assistants eat as they work. They can be mid-bite into their lunch when they are approached by a co-worker about an upcoming meeting, broken internet connection, or even a flooded toilet.
Knowing when to draw the line is half the battle, because some co-workers can make a situation sound so much more urgent than it really is. For their own benefit, administrative assistants learn to make judgement calls based on the situation at hand. They will always agree to address the problem, but sometimes they decide that after lunch works best for them.
- They Can Have Their Desk Used As a Dumping Station
They love the feeling of making a huge dent in their work pile, but if they walk away for just a moment, some are sure to be welcomed back by additional paperwork sitting in their inbox.
To keep up with steady incoming work, they sort and manage everything in categories and then prioritize them. Administrative assistants are extremely organized and know how to keep a productive workflow to handle large loads of labor.
- They Can Have No Privacy
Being the assistant to pretty much everyone means that their desk is a free for all for those they work with. They are the keeper of keys, stationary, supplies and the great all might candy drawer.
To keep their space to themselves, they develop homes for all company property outside of their personal bubble. Anything that is personal is kept far away in an opposing corner such as car keys, wallet, and cell phone.
- They Can Lack Physical Activity
Someday, there are too many emails, and too much paperwork piling into their inbox to even walk away. Sometimes, they may even sacrifice taking a break or lunch to complete a job.
Administrative assistants have such a great work ethic: they can easily multitask and work harder to find extra time during their day for a refreshing walk outside.
- They Can Sometimes Be the Butt of The Office Jokes
When administrative assistants make a mistake, which can happen, they are sometimes the butt of all jokes for the rest of the day.
Those that don’t take themselves too seriously can deal with mockery; they just chime in with everyone else and laugh at their own mistakes. They know that being able to admit their flaws and to learn from them is a sign of great leadership.
- They Can Be Under Paid and Feel Unappreciated
The status of an administrative assistant position is debatable depending on the point of view of those looking at it. With the work-load of a hundred people, they are sometimes treated as if they are at the bottom of the totem pole. Some that doesn’t bother much, others it bothers a great deal.
My fellow admin if you know what you are capable of and that you are doing your very best each day, it really doesn’t matter how others view your position. Administrative assistants are the hub of their departments, organizations and companies and are the wheels that help keep things running efficiently and smoothly. So if at times you feel unappreciated take a look at all that you do on a daily basis and start appreciating yourself and all that you bring to your workplace.