The Top 10 Career Practices to Learn from Administrative Assistants

Top 10 Career Practices Admins learnBy Bonnie Low-Kramen  July 24, 2013  For

The great assistants all love what they do. They unabashedly and unapologetically love their work in support of others. They blow off comments like, “You’re just an assistant,” because they know better.

Professional assistants are some of the brightest, most organized and resourceful people on the planet. That is why not everyone is cut out for this demanding work. They are very far from being “just” anything. The smartest people in the business world know to invest in the true power of the assistant.
I worked for 25 years as the personal assistant to Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis, and I loved it. Yes, I said it. Friends would say that I was one of the only people they knew who genuinely loved their job. That always struck me as important feedback as I observed how often the world treats assistants with disrespect. That happened to me too. Working with a movie star did not make me totally immune. Now I teach workshops for assistants all around the world and I want to share some universal truths about this thing we call love. These apply whether it is an assistant in Maryland or Malaysia or any point in between.

Here are the top 10 things that assistants do better than anyone else:
1. They are relentlessly adaptable. They love the variety the job offers and that no two days are ever the same which makes it easy for them to shift gears at a moment’s notice.

2. They love a challenge. “No” is usually not an option. True confession: I used to play a game at work called “How few emails or phone calls in the shortest time will it take to get this answer?” I won if it took three or less in five minutes or less.

3. They underplay their power. Looks can be deceiving. The assistant has the ear of her manager and wields tremendous influence. Do not underestimate this. Seriously.

4. Making people happy is their goal. Going above and beyond is SOP. Assistants have an innate desire to please and to figure out the myriad of ways to do that. Assistants are born with a “service heart” and receive great pleasure and satisfaction from being supreme implementers.

5. They read minds. They usually need a clue or two. A look on their manager’s face or the way her co-worker responded at the staff meeting. Great assistants are clairvoyant and truly know when “it is a good time” to approach the boss, and more importantly, when it is not. Anticipating what needs to be done is their gift.

6. They love to put out fires and bring order to chaos. The assistant is the go-to person in any crisis whether it is prepping for Hurricane Sandy or untangling a meeting gone haywire.

7. They are master jugglers. The best assistants enjoy managing 12 invisible balls in the air and are able to handle #13 and #14 too. Just give them a fresh cup of coffee.

8. They are hungry to learn . Assistants know that they need to commit to life-long learning in order to stay at the top of their game. Smart CEOs and business leaders recognize this need and invest in their assistant’s professional development.

9. They are connected. Resources are an assistant’s best friends. The best assistants have the widest and deepest networks. They know the magic power of relationships to get it done…now.

10. They yearn to make a difference. Assistants are the ultimate enablers for their managers and companies. It gives them great pleasure to see the results of their plotting and planning. They don’t need a lot of feedback. A little goes a long way.

If fully utilized and are well managed, assistants are the eyes and ears of their managers and can be the powerful secret weapons of every company.

* If you haven’t heard Steve Jobs’ famous 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, it’s worth much more than the 22 minutes running time.

Link to original article by Bonnie Low-Kramen

The Top 10 Career Practices to Learn from Administrative Assistants

10 thoughts on “The Top 10 Career Practices to Learn from Administrative Assistants

  • May 9, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    When people ask me why on earth I chose to be an Executive Assistant, I told them that I love that my job is not the same 2 days in a row. When I made the decision I knew it would be my passion and it has become just that.

    • November 12, 2014 at 6:46 am

      Being a EA or a PA is a very versatile role, no day is the same and it is very rewarding when you manage your manager well!

  • November 20, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    More great information from you Bonnie!

  • March 1, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    It’s a great top 10 list of things and so true.

  • April 6, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    This article is right on. Thank you for making me feel more confident.

  • April 7, 2015 at 9:23 am

    This is the best article I have ever read about a EA. It is so true.

  • April 20, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Thank you for spelling out the importance of an EA. You have described myself and my passion for a position that I thrive on.

  • April 24, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Loved this article and I love being an Executive Assistant!

  • August 6, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    You never would hear me say …”no problem”….it is always “my pleasure!” Big difference on how you will be perceived.

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