Administrative assistants are often the first voices that customers and important stakeholders encounter – online, on the phone or in person. Even virtual front desks play a vital role in taking in calls, screening incoming requests, and setting up meetings. Other administrative assistants may be more back-office focused, interacting with fewer people, but engaging in vital detailed administrative work.
Consider what you most need from your Administrative Assistant, and how those needs may have shifted over time. Here are some examples of common roles:
- Welcoming Caretaker, Multi-Tasker and Traffic Manager: Your Administrative Assistant at the in-person or virtual front desk juggles a hundred incoming people and items every day. Key skills in this role include flexibility, responsiveness, customer service, interpersonal skills and organizational skills.
- Gatekeeper, Scheduler and Negotiator: This type of administrative assistant is responsible for making important tradeoffs and decisions to protect the rest of the team from constant barrages of information or requests. This assistant needs strong interpersonal, critical thinking, political sensitivity and decision-making skills.
- Back-Office Administrative Support and Records Management: For this type of administrative assistant, key skills may be detail orientation, focus, the ability to organize and sequence information and the ability to develop or implement efficient systems
- Virtual Assistant: This type of assistant may provide more personalized front desk support for specific executives. Key skills for this role may include confidentiality and discretion, high comfort with ambiguity and great communication skills.
Different organizational missions and cultures lead to different front desk roles, which also leads to the need for different skills. The front desk in a busy customer service environment is different from the front desk of a specialized professional services company. Analyzing these needs may help you more effectively define or adjust roles, manage performance and recruit for the right people for the right role at the right time.
Effective administrative assistants in the right roles add efficiency and professionalism to your work. Find them, support them and celebrate them on this Administrative Professional’s Day!