Today's administrative assistant is the backbone of any company, and as such, needs to be adept at a variety of tasks. As the instability of the economy causes many businesses to cut back on staff, the role of the administrative assistant becomes even more complex. Certain skills are crucial to successfully navigating today's business world as an administrative assistant.
One of the most important skills an administrative assistant can possess is communication abilities. Typically, an administrative assistant is the first point of contact for clients, vendors and other outside agencies; he takes and relays messages, screens phone calls, greets visitors and helps clients and customers with their questions and concerns. The administrative assistant must be patient, understanding, and willing to listen and explain, so top-notch communication skills are absolutely necessary.
A good administrative assistant must be able to keep his workload organized. An assistant's list of duties is never complete, and multitasking is the norm. The assistant must be able to prioritize and keep track of every task in order to relieve the pressure on executives and managers.
Time management is another essential skill for administrative assistants. He must be punctual to work and meetings and know how to divide his time in order to get the most done each day. The assistant must also be able to work through constant distractions since emails and phone calls may occur all day long.
Any great administrative assistant must be dependable and very trustworthy. Because of the high degree of responsibility typically placed on an assistant's shoulders, he must be willing to go above and beyond in certain situations, even if it means coming in early or staying late to complete a project. The assistant should also be able to get work done in a timely and efficient manner without much supervision or direction. Also, administrative assistants are usually privy to highly confidential information, such as business documents, contracts and financial information. The assistant must be able to maintain full confidentiality and avoid personal gossip with co-workers.
Flexibility is another important skill for administrative assistants. The assistant does not have the luxury of having a "typical day" in the office, which can be both exciting and challenging. No two days are alike, and urgent requests or crises crop up routinely. A good administrative assistant handles last-minute situations with ease and grace, not allowing them to derail the entire workday. The assistant should be able to handle emergencies with urgency and speed, and then get right back to scheduled tasks.
Often, administrative assistants are considered merely support positions. However, whether the title is Administrative Assistant, Executive Assistant, Front Desk Clerk or Office Manager, the skills and expertise required to do a great job must be exceptional, especially in today's increasingly challenging workplace.
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