Award Winning Skills for Administrative Assistants

Nancy Anderson
Posted by in Administrative & Clerical Services

It’s interesting to find that awards shows like the Oscars and the Emmys award exactly the same statuettes to both the lead and supporting actors and actresses. No distinction between the categories. No large statuette for the lead actor and a smaller one for supporting.

They say art imitates life, but in this case, the art got it right. The effort, skills, and value of a person’s work shouldn’t be distinguished by the size of a statuette or a job title. Administrative Assistants may have a supporting role, but their contribution is no less worthy of top billing.

Whether you are an Executive Assistant, Administrative Assistant, Office Clerk, Receptionist, Front Desk Agent, or Customer Service Assistant, the skills and expertise needed to do the job has to be top notch, and in step with today’s changing workplace. Titles don’t always tell the story, and an Administrative Assistant can, in reality, be the Office Manager, Customer Service Agent, Inside Sales Associate and Executive Assistant all at the same time. These “must have” areas of expertise are sure to make you an award-winning assistant:

1. Microsoft Office Suite – Because companies are operating with fewer people, the assistant has to be able to flow from correspondence, to emails, to preparing presentations, to sending out email blasts, to tracking income and expenses, and managing the company Intranet. Knowledge of and proficiency in MS Office is a given in just about any office setting, and essential if you want to go from supporting to lead.

2. Handling multiple communications systems – Offices still have land lines, and in a large company, the ability to handle multiple phone systems takes skill, concentration and the ability to work at a fast pace. In today’s office, keeping up with cell phone messages and texts, radios, pagers and constant emails requires organization and dexterity. A missed call or message can mean lost business, an unhappy customer, and disgruntled boss.

3. Data Entry Skills – Phone systems are not the only technical programs in which you need to be proficient. A Front Desk Agent in a hotel will use Microsoft Office, Outlook, and then a separate system for booking reservations, managing billing, special requests; a separate system for issuing guest room keys, and another system for miscellaneous charges such as snacks, room service, or other gift shop items. The ability to handle guests and multi-task on different systems with accuracy is challenging. Assistants in a medical setting will need to understand coding systems and keep track of multiple physicians and health care service providers, many with their own online systems. Accuracy and focus is key to data entry, since one error can create a nightmare for a customer and require hours or days to correct.

4. Customer Service Skills – You have to please the customer to stay in business, and often the Administrative Assistant is their first contact with the company. T-Mobile’s customer service staff affirms the customer’s good judgment to call in and lets you know that, “…we can help you.” They make you feel smart and welcome, not some disruption to someone’s day. Assistants have to satisfy external and internal customers, and building good relationships, handling situations with tact and respect, and being knowledgeable in how things work and get things done make you invaluable to both sets of customers.

5. Ability to Multitask—Take all of the above, and set them spinning at the same time. That is probably a picture of a typical day in your workplace. Crises, requests, and routine tasks from multiple customers can occur simultaneously and assistants are supposed to orchestrate them into a beautiful symphony.

Your company may not hand out a gold statuette, and the boss probably gets a bigger bonus, but the real payoff for excellent skills and delivery is the call to take the lead. Mastering these five award winning skills can put you in line for recognition. Start getting your acceptance speech ready.

By Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, MJNH Consulting

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