Office professionals have many names and fulfil many roles. Secretaries, Personal Assistants, Admin or Office Professionals etc., are expected to be managers, report writers, gatekeepers, organisers, event planners, mentors, physiatrists, caregivers, the list goes on and on. They do everything. When you look at the required skillset of a secretary needed to be on top of his/her game, it lines up with the skillset of that of management. Below are some of the most in-demand skills any secretary needs:
- Presentability. You must view yourself as a brand. The way you present yourself. The way you look. How you speak and act as well as what you think about yourself. Portraying a good brand of yourself will influence people’s perceptions of you. It furthermore affects how you view yourself ultimately adding to your confidence. If you are well-presented, people automatically respect you more. Therefore, a well-presented secretary or frontline receptionist sets the bar either high or low for the total brand image of an organisation because they give the very first impression.
- Flexibility and Adaptability. It has been proven time and time again that the people and businesses who can change with the times and situations, as well as adapt to new challenges are the ones who achieve long term success and survives. If you are stuck in your own comfort zone and not open to change, you will not progress, develop, and grow. Successful companies and dynamic management teams look for secretaries who can quickly adjust and grow with them.
- Good Communication Skills. This point covers everything from good listening skills through to non-verbal body language, telephone, and email etiquette. Professional communication skills that are clear, friendly, and effective are of utmost importance to a secretary and their management. It is the very essence of the job. Secretaries are responsible for communicating clear messages, otherwise appointments will be mixed up, reports will be confusing, and no one will know what was said in the meeting etc.
- Emotional Intelligence. Secretaries with a good EQ (Emotional Intelligence) are not only able to recognise, manage and understand their own emotions but also identify, comprehend, and influence the emotions of others. Secretaries who have high emotional intelligence, can guide, and help people. It can help with reasoning, calming down and solving people’s problems. It can furthermore increase happiness within the workplace.
- Business Writing. The primary way we do business is by writing emails, reports, contracts, presentations, etc., and with email being the preferred way to communicate and to keep schedules, it increases the responsibility of administrative staff to excel in effective and productive business writing skills.
- Problem solving and decision making. A secretary is expected to think on their feet. Quick and decisive problem solving helps with running the office like a well-oiled machine. Secretaries are expected to identify problems, come up with quick and effective solutions and then make an informed decision on whether they can sort it out themselves or need to escalate it to the boss.
- Organisational Skills – Keep lists. Secretaries need a strong ability to be organised so that their boss is also organised, and the entire office can function at an optimal level. He/she needs to keep track of all the projects, emails, meetings, deadlines etc. Being organised and keeping lists assists with point number 8 below – Time and Stress Management.
- Time and Stress Management skills. A secretary is like being a mother. If she is freaked out and running around stressed and unfocused, the rest will follow. But when a secretary is calm, relaxed, and manages time well, they will automatically be in control of the situation, the office and the boss will have confidence in saying “my secretary’s got this!” This eases tension and helps with punctuality.
- Mentoring Skills. Newbies starting work at the office, usually relates to the secretary of a company because they are your first point of entry to the boss’s office. You are also the insider and the person who knows the boss the best. Because of all the skills you possess, this is your chance to help develop the skills and the know-how of young employees and to help them ease into their new work life.
Office Professionals are responsible for coordinating and managing office administrative duties while offering an extensive level of professional support to executive managers. They need to anticipate their managers’ needs and assist them to optimise their time. They are relied on to ensure that work is handled efficiently and without the need for constant or direct supervision. The administrative secretary must regularly exercise independent judgment and action, including making frequent decisions in line with delegated responsibilities from the assigned supervisor. As such, they must be effective and efficient in their time management and their people skills.
The shift from the clichéd ―secretary of old, to the modern concept of ―” inner core assistant”, brings a level of job satisfaction and personal fulfilment the profession ‘s trail-blazers could not have imagined. A good secretary is the key to an efficient and well-functioning team and therefore an organisation.