Learn to Be Your Own Administrative Assistant
I have had a long career managing people and working with various types of assistants. I have worked for several universities, health care institutions, consulting firms, national organizations and social service organizations. In the different leadership roles I have held, I depended on personal administrative assistants to help me in working with staff of varying sizes.
The individuals I have worked with have various levels of experience, motivation, education and attributes needed for personal success. One element that I always look for is loyalty. I worked with a gamut of assistants from mediocre to excellent. When working at one particular university, I was immensely proud of the fact that four assistants who worked with me were eventually promoted to becoming executive assistants to four deans of colleges. I always encouraged individual initiative and the desire to advance.
I learned at any early career age that I needed to acquire personal administrative skills. I had the ability to be global in scope while focusing on detailed tasks. My career has gone full circle. With my current employer, I have gone from executive director of development with a personal assistant to associate director with no assistant, by design.
I was thinking the other day of some of the skills and activities that I now must personally accomplish on a daily or weekly basis. Some of these tasks include creating and typing letters, answering phones, depositing checks with finance, directing Zoom meetings, creating agendas, compiling minutes from meetings, developing filing systems, establishing inventory practices, scheduling calendars, maintaining To-Do lists, arranging meetings, designing brochures, communicating via email, and the list goes on.
If you are your own personal assistant, I am certain you perform many various tasks daily. Have you learned a variety of skills and traits as described by Universal Class? These include workplace flexibility by switching tasks and multitasking, being discreet and keeping confidences, having career goals, organization of your personal life, ability to handle extreme stress and long hours, being comfortable wearing many hats, making good personal presentations, keeping up with technology, and understanding that you are responsible for every detail and aspect of your job. There is no possibility of delegating numerous assignments.
To understand you are your own assistant and to improve that reality, The Execu-Search Group pointed out that to be successful as an executive, you must either have an exceptional assistant or understand the qualities of top assistants and exhibit those traits.
These qualities are:
- They anticipate needs.
- They are resourceful and adaptable.
- They reflect their supervisor’s values.
- They volunteer for special projects.
- They are tech savvy.
- They help build company culture.
According to Office Dynamics, qualities to be a great assistant are good communication skills, organization skills, team player, interpersonal communication skills, detail oriented, positive can-do attitude, flexible, ability to prioritize and many more.
Snacknation states that for 2021, there are 17 executive assistant skills for insane effectiveness. Executive assistants in today’s world are more than support; they are strategic to your success and, therefore, more valuable. They help manage the company even through a remote culture. The administrative attributes needed by professionals today include knowing the best kept secrets, being calm, being resourceful, understanding technology, seeking the big picture, having ruthless prioritization, having ironclad discretion, having impeccable organizational skills, having multi-tasking abilities and much more.
Regardless of your role in your organization, learn to be your own administrative assistant. This knowledge will sharpen your skill base and make you more appreciative of your assistant’s needs if you are fortunate enough to have one. In my case, not having an assistant made me learn new work program elements. I now better understand at a deeper level of how things operate.
While I have always utilized administrative functions, being my own administrative assistant makes me work harder and smarter. When you only rely on yourself for certain results and elements of productivity, you pay greater attention to detail. I strongly suggest learning aspects of how to be an administrative assistant. You will need this wider bridge of knowledge in 2021 because of limited resources, staffing and volunteers, all while productivity expectations continue to increase.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.