Administrative professionals are the unsung heroes of many businesses, as they often work behind the scenes to ensure that the company operates seamlessly. If you're looking for career success in a fast-paced, ever-changing administrative or clerical position, organization and people skills can help you ascend through the ranks quickly.
For administrative professionals, no two days are the same. At any given moment, you may be processing notes from a meeting, planning an in-office conference or organizing travel arrangements for the CEO. Whether you're supporting a small department or an entire business, organization is crucial to career success. Since administrative workers often play important behind-the-scenes roles on every project and operational activity, an organized system ensures that the office runs smoothly.
Organization applies to nearly every aspect of an administrator's job. The most obvious is the physical realm; a tidy office, an easy-to-use filing system and an orderly office supply cabinet make it easy to find what you need. Workflow organization is another part of career success. To ensure that each item is completed on schedule, you must know how to prioritize, multitask, be disciplined and use time efficiently.
Modern admins also face a new challenge that was unheard of 20 years ago: digital organization. In addition to physical mail, forms and files, you must also manage digital files, email, instant messages, texts, cloud systems and apps — just to name a few. Many companies use project management systems, interoffice communication networks, hour-tracking software and social media. As an administrative worker, you are expected to stay on top of each technological tool, communication channel and trend, a process that requires careful organization and attention to detail.
Administrative and clerical workers interact with a greater variety of people than nearly anyone else in a company. In a single day, you might speak to the CEO, the receptionist, customers, vendors, entry-level workers and members of the general public — each with a unique temperament and communication style. Under these demanding circumstances, highly developed people skills are a must for career success.
Great admins are masters of interpersonal relationships. Using perception and observation, they assess each person to understand the individual's preferences, quirks and working style. Then, they adapt quickly and adjust their communication to ensure that each interaction is smooth and productive.
People skills also extend to office politics, which play an important role in administrative career success. The best admins know the company culture inside and out. They know who has authority and who wields the most powerful influence within the company. Using this information, they are able to shift strategies and adjust their style to get what they need.
For dynamic, quick-thinking professionals, administrative work can be an exciting challenge. By learning how to stay organized and building advanced people skills, you can achieve career success in high-level admin or clerical positions.
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