As the admin, you’re often asked to be the brains, the backbone, and the heart of the whole office. Getting it right requires a broad set of skills and more than a little mind reading. It would be great if you could just download the whole office’s organizational systems and culture Matrix-style right into your brain, but since that won’t be happening anytime soon, we thought we’d give you the next best thing. We asked a community of expert admins for their best advice. What lessons would they pass on to new admins, if they could? They dropped some serious wisdom, and we’ve rounded it up for you. Here are their top ten tips:
1. Respect office traditions and hold onto some of the good ideas from admin assistants of days gone past.
Any admin worth their salt will bring a fresh set of eyes and a wealth of new ideas, but that doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel every time. Before you rush in with new solutions, take the time to see what’s already working and why. From legacy filing systems to weird holiday party traditions, some of what you inherit is worth keeping around.
2. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
This one is the Golden Rule. It’s one of the first lessons we learn in kindergarten, but in the sometimes pressured environment of work, it can be easy to forget. Extending a little extra kindness, tolerance, and support to everyone in your path can make a huge difference in how the day goes.
3. Whenever possible, do a little research on your own to present to your team— before you present them with questions.
This is one of the easiest ways to show initiative. It’s incredible what ten minutes with the Google guru can do. And even if you can’t track down the answer yourself, the process will help you ask better questions.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help—from superiors, equals, or those who work for you.
While it’s always good to figure things out for yourself, don’t drive yourself crazy or waste time going in circles. Asking smart questions can actually build your reputation and strengthen bonds between you and your co-workers. People generally love to help and enjoy showing off what they know.
5. Develop your own style of organization that complements your strengths – and the strengths of your co-workers.
Admins may be the secret superheroes of the office, but that doesn’t mean you’re actually super human. No one is instantly perfect at everything. Take your time to discover what works best for you and for your office.
6. Be prepared to be patient.
Admins sometimes bear the brunt of everyone else’s mess, stress, and competing needs. Being patient goes with the turf of being an admin. Not only are you juggling the demands of a fast-paced office environment, you’re also doing a balancing act with different personalities, which respond in different ways to different stresses. Be patient. Deep breaths. You got this!
7. Be flexible: Know what needs to get done, but be prepared to reorganize based on new priorities.
Every day is a brand new day at the office. While certain activities may take priority over others, sometimes you will have to do a little shuffling to make room for additional priorities that rear their head. It can be hard to let go of your own plans. Reach down deep in your organization-loving little heart and find an extra bit of…yep…patience.
8. Never underestimate the value of an honest answer.
When you’re up to your eyeballs in tasks and someone comes to you with one more problem or question, the temptation is to just tell them what they want to hear. Resist it. Sometimes the most honest answer is: I don’t know, can I get back to you on that? Chances are, the person you are speaking to will prefer an honest answer rather than one that doesn’t fully answer their question.
9. Everyone makes mistakes. The only mistake is not learning from your mistakes.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Fix the problem, find the lesson, forgive yourself. The end.
10. Communication – and knowing how to communicate with a variety of people – is key.
It’s true of every single relationship in life; work is no different. It’s not enough just to say the words (though that’s a good beginning). You need to find ways to ensure that you’re actually heard. Spend time honing a communication style that is clear, confident, and empathetic. With that under your belt, you can move mountains. Your co-workers will respect your ability to effectively convey your ideas and will learn to trust you and any changes you hope to make—they’ll know you have their best interests at heart.
Being an office admin is demanding. We all know that the work goes way beyond the bullet points in a job listing, and that succeeding as an admin is both a science and an art. There’s no substitute for years in the field, but if you follow this advice from our brilliant admin veterans, you’ll be off to a great start.
For more tips on becoming on a beloved admin assistant: https://www.quill.com/blog/careers-advice/the-7-bs-on-becoming-a-beloved-admin-assistant.html