The following is a guest post from Kevin Wilson, co-author of The Administrative Assistant’s and Secretary’s Handbook.
Administrative Professional’s Day is the time to thank your hard-working assistant for putting up with those endless requests from you and your colleagues. This year, rather than a gift card to Starbucks or a spa gift certificate you would like to keep for yourself, how about giving the gift of development. (Or perhaps in addition to a gift card or spa gift certificate!)
Gone are the days when an administrative assistant might work 30 years for the same company, many of those years for the same boss. Corporate restructurings, which have affected hundreds of thousands of people over the past few years, have been a mixed blessing for administrative assistants. In the wake of restructuring, some assistants have to leave their position when their boss leaves, but others are asked to take on greater responsibility, to “take up the slack” as middle managers are phased out. Either situation could be professionally devastating if an administrative assistant is not prepared.
While it is important to offer training on the skills needed for the current job, such as computer skills, it could be strategically helpful to acquire other essential business skills whether or not they are needed right now. Look for training opportunities in areas such as business writing, research, customer service, purchasing, budgeting, bookkeeping, invoicing, training new employees, presentation skills, and supervising an office staff. The American Management Association offers a wide variety of seminars on these and other topics.
Having these skills will give your administrative assistant the most flexible preparation to meet any challenge he or she may face—either an on-the-job crisis or a career advancement opportunity.
Another development idea that is more closely related with your assistant’s current job would be to support his or her effort to become certified by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (formerly the National Secretaries Association) as a Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) or Certified Administrative Professional (CAP). This certification is granted only upon the successful completion of examinations in various aspects of secretarial/administrative procedures and skills. Being certified can be a tremendous boost to your assistant’s career.
Giving the gift of development shows you care personally about your administrative assistant’s future and well-being. If you have a limited budget, offer to pay for an adult education course of your assistant’s choice at the local college. There are also many useful online courses that can help your assistant acquire new skills. And above all, talk with your assistant about what they see themselves doing in the future, and then work together on a development plan that helps them achieve these goals.
Kevin Wilson is the co-author of The Administrative Assistant’s and Secretary’s Handbook and is Vice President of Videologies, Inc., a company that specializes in training administrative professionals in Fortune 500 companies.