Becoming the AA the Boss Can't Live Without

Michele Warg
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An administrative assistant is an invaluable employee to company managers and executives, especially when this type of professional makes the entire office run more efficiently. The nuances and details of these types of positions lead to more than just job security. The best assistants learn how to put their personal stamp on the position and reap the rewards in return.

Julie Perrine, CEO of All Things Admin, notes seven different facets of an administrative assistant's job that people in this position must master to become invaluable to an executive. These are equally important for non-executive secretaries and office managers. Making sure your boss is running his department effectively involves a lot more than bringing in coffee and a list of appointments at 8:01 in the morning every day.

First, recognize the stages of partnership development with your executive or manager. The initial stage involves breaking the ice between the administrative assistant and executive and beginning to get to know each other. During the second phase, there will be trial-and-error as you start to learn your manager's likes and dislikes as well as what approaches are successful for you when working with him. After you start to get somewhat comfortable, each of you will, consciously or unconsciously, test each other a bit to better understand expectations and boundaries in your work partnership.

The fourth stage is integration, which occurs after an administrative assistant and boss start to truly understand each others' styles. The office starts to run more and more smoothly. During the final stage, each of you feels comfortable enough around each other to become more personable without sacrificing the professional partnership that you've developed.

Perrine emphasizes the importance of being taken seriously. We no longer live in the world of "Mad Men" – a modern administrative assistant is so much more than just a pretty or handsome face. Executives and managers are responsible for the company's success and their assistants take care of critical tasks necessary to accomplish that every day. Your boss cannot spend two hours trying to figure out a new video conferencing system for a call when he needs that time to prepare for the meeting.

Other key traits of successful administrative assistants include knowing your executive's personality and strengths, communicating effectively, developing a style that is both yours and sets you apart, creating a strong support network and anticipating the needs of your boss. Taking initiative and anticipating needs are considered the Holy Grails of assisting, and doing these makes the entire office more efficient.

Landing the all-important job is just the beginning of an administrative assistant's journey. Excellence has its rewards far beyond mere job security. Raises, more time off, better benefits and a bigger office are just some of the perks you may find yourself enjoying if you excel at the skills that make a person in this role invaluable.

Become an amazing administrative assistant, one who survives downsizing, mergers and recessions and thrives in the good times by mastering key elements of the job. Understand the stages of your partnership so you can learn how to work effectively and efficiently with your boss. Then make your position your own and show him you really mean business.


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    So true! I lived this. Was brought in as a temp for a month fill-in until the new Executive Admin arrived. Had great rapport with both Pres & VP and ended up landing the position permanently. Loved it! A lot of hard work and dedication but a lot of satisfaction at a job well done, too.

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