Join gThankYou! and celebrate Administrative Professionals Day!

Happy smiles at last year’s Administrative Professionals Day Breakfast at Fort Valley State University in Georgia. (Via FVSU, Flickr)

Happy Administrative Professionals Day!
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the secretaries, admins, executive assistants, office managers, receptionists and other support staff who keep organizations running smoothly.
There isn’t much glory in administrative work, but it’s essential to organizations.
In celebration of Administrative Professionals Day, we’re sending out a big “Thank You!” to admins everywhere. Read on for five reasons admin employees are awesome — in ways you might not realize — and why they deserve your deepest gratitude on Administrative Professionals Day (and every day).

The Value of a ‘Truly Competent’ Admin

“I’ve worked on both sides of this holiday,” writes Lindsay Cross in a 2012 Grindstone post, “Why You Should Have Celebrated Administrative Professionals Day Today.”  Cross has performed and benefited from support duties in an office.
“I’ve answered phones and sorted mail and gotten almost zero recognition for my work or understanding about the frustrations that come with an administrative professional’s job. I’ve also known the value of a truly competent and responsible administrative assistant,” she writes.
Cross’ unique perspective of “both sides” offers valuable insight into the frustrations and rewards of being an administrative professional. These days, support staff tackle more duties than ever. Their roles constantly evolve.
The Houston Chronicle finds no fewer than nine essential skills in an admin’s job. These include software and technical oversight, planning, organization and communication. But administrative work goes beyond a simple job description.


Admins sit at the heart of what makes workplace culture thrive, and we could all learn a thing or two from them about fostering a better workplace culture.
1. Be Helpful

Good admins always look for ways to help coworkers perform at their best. Stereotypically, admins are in charge of brewing (or fetching) coffee for the office. The stereotype undercuts admins’ wide-reaching duties and undervalues simple but vital upkeep like ensuring employees have the supplies they need.
In truth, being helpful is model behavior for a productive workplace. A Harvard Business School study found that a “Culture of Helping” leads to business success. Authors Teresa Amabile, Colin M. Fisher and Julianna Pillemer write:

“In the highest-performing companies, it is a norm that colleagues support one another’s efforts to do the best work they can. That has always been true for efficiency reasons, but collaborative helping becomes even more vital in an era of knowledge work, when positive business outcomes depend on high creativity in often very complex projects.”

2. Be Adaptable
According to former assistant Melba J. Duncan, good assistants are reactive and adaptable. Duncan is now president of The Duncan Group, a recruiting and training firm in New York that focuses on senior-level professional assistants.
Whether admins adopt to new technology or juggle unpredictable schedules, holding back simple isn’t an option. They must take every day in stride.
“There’s always a surprise,” Duncan tells The New York Times, “and that surprise can sometimes turn your day upside down.”
Adaptability is a key factor in thriving workplace cultures, according to Ohio University Career Services. Employees with a “willingness to adapt to the new environment and to get out of their comfort zone” will naturally fit the company culture better — and be happier!
3. See the Broader Picture
Admin are expected “to spend hours a day satisfying someone else’s wants and needs as if they were your own.” According to former assistant Lindsay Cross in her Grindstone blog, “Why You Should Have Celebrated Administrative Professionals Day Today,” doing the job well “takes a level of dedication that can be hard to explain.”
One explanation for this level of dedication is that admins see the broader picture. Instead of getting caught up in pettiness or competition, the best admins see their work as part of the company’s greater mission.
The more your managers help employees take this holistic view, the better. Employees who understand the value of their work in light of company goals are more dedicated, productive and happy.
4. Keep a Sense of Humor
The nature of administrative work is to know everybody’s business. But the best admins ignore office politics and use their all-knowing power for good — acting as mediators, easing tensions with humor and keeping everyone around them on-task and happy.
Humor at work, especially in stressful situations, upholds an even-keeled workplace culture. The goal is not a workplace full of stand-up comedians, but rather developing employees and admin who demonstrate “maturity and the ability to see the forest through the trees,” according to the Forbes article “10 Reasons Why Humor Is A Key To Success At Work.”
5. Stay Resilient
[Tweet “Being an admin takes extreme resilience.”] “You’re the first person to hear a complaint and the first to be blamed for a problem. You’re rarely given all the information you need to do your job sufficiently. And your frequently asked to take on the role of a personal maid, scheduler and babysitter,” writes Grindstone blogger Lindsay Cross.
Resilient people aren’t martyrs. They know that, to do a job well, you have to practice mindfulness and self-care.
Noreen P. Denihan, an executive assistant since the mid-1970s, tells The New York Times she’s handled difficult bosses and a few workplace “tantrums” over the years.
But in the end she finds her work fulfilling, enjoys her coworkers and knows that she has an impact on the ultimate productivity of the firm.
“I chose this path. I like what I do. I really feel that it makes a difference to the firm and to my boss,” she says.
Want your admins to have the same confidence and appreciation of their work, even decades into their career? Share your gratitude with them today for Administrative Professionals Day!
For more great tips and insights into building a vibrant culture of engagement, respect and appreciation, be sure to download our free e-book, “The Top 20 Employee Engagement Blogs You Should be Reading”.
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