You probably never expected to see the above words in the same sentence. However, finish this article, and you’ll quickly see the obvious connection.
Last month we celebrated Administrative Professionals Day, formerly known as Secretary’s Day. This month we celebrate National Receptionists Day. These special days were set aside to recognize the work and tremendous contributions of secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists, and other administrative support professionals.
Having worked closely with this particular group of very talented and experienced specialists over the years, I personally feel they should be operating under a new title: “The Secret Service.” More often than not, what these talented professionals do is in the background and not completely noticeable to the rest of us. And yet, we know who really runs the business these days, now don’t we? By the way, most everyone at C-Level (CEO-CFO-COO-CIO, etc.) would agree with that statement.
“The Secret Service” are responsible for a variety of administrative and clerical duties necessary to run an organization efficiently. They serve as information and communication managers for an office; plan and schedule meetings and appointments; organize and maintain paper and electronic files; manage projects; conduct research; and disseminate information by using the telephone, mail services, Web sites, and e-mail. They also may handle travel and guest arrangements. But any administrative assistant worth his or her salt will tell you this barely scratches the surface of everything they do.
The good administrative assistant knows intimately how the office functions. While all offices look the same on the surface, each office is different, often influenced by the industry it serves. Some have a more casual chain of command, some are very formal. In the office, the experienced administrative assistant knows, for instance, which faxes are important and which are trash; what snail mail can be safely discarded; which e-mails must be forwarded to the boss, and which he or she can deal with. The administrative assistant also deals with the public in many offices and is a source of general information. He or she will also probably be responsible, at least in part, in training new office staff. She has to know how to work with a variety of office equipment, and may be experienced enough to do minor repairs.
Overworked, underpaid? Maybe, but one thing is obvious. Many of them are not given enough credit and recognition for their crucial roles in the work place. Despite this they wear smiles on their faces and carry a grim determination in their hearts to make their bosses succeed. “The Secret Service” are the heroes in the work place. Yet they don’t get the credit, thanks, praise, and devotion that they richly deserve as they take initiative to make things happen and always seem to be the “go to” person for everyone in the organization.
Here’s a Generational Gem that will explain everything:
Even Cannibals Know the Difference!
A big corporation hired several cannibals. “You are all part of our team now,” said the HR manager during the welcome briefing. “You get all the usual benefits, and you can go to the cafeteria for something to eat, but please don’t eat any of the other employees.” The cannibals promised they would not.
A few weeks later the cannibals’ boss remarked, “You’re all working very hard, and I’m satisfied with you. However, one of our secretaries has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to her?” The cannibals all shook their heads, “No,” they said.
After the boss left, the leader of the cannibals said to the others angrily, “Right, which one of you idiots ate the secretary?”
A hand rose hesitantly in admission. “You fool!” said the leader. “For weeks we’ve been eating managers, and no one noticed anything, but nooo, you had to go and eat someone important!”