The Seven Cs of Administrative Professionals

By Mary Alaniz

Are you an admin? Are you ready to propel your career? Do you have a plan forward? Administrative Professionals are vital to all organizations in every industry. The role, importance and job description keep growing, and there is yet a manual or specific training that can prepare us for what lies ahead. Every day and situation will differ. We must rely on our network, intuition, skills, and competencies to make us a stellar assistant.

Whether this is a long-term career for you or if this is a stepping stone into another role, your supervisor/executive, team, and company depend on you for an important function. Regardless of the size of your team or organizational level you support, you must be prepared to complete tasks and continually add value successfully. Set standards in your work and live by them. Get clear about your career aspirations, so you can take steps to realize them.

The Seven Cs of Administrative Professionals that I share below are essential tips and actions to own your career path and start creating a strategy to advance.

1. Career

Are you pursuing a long-term career as an Administrative Professional? If so, there are many ways to succeed. So many titles but all as equally important. The responsibility is yours to master your desk and support the executive and team strategically. Here are career tips to keep in mind.

• Do your best work every day. Passion + Purpose = Professional.
• Be a good Corporate Citizen and Business Brand Ambassador.
• Lead by example.
• Build tenure and expertise. Tenure and practice create resilience & grit.
• Dress for the job you want not the job you have.
• Network globally, vertically, horizontally, internally, externally. Genuinely connect.
• Develop a 360-degree view of your business and operations. Where can you add value?
• Plan for change. “Shift Happens.”
• Seek and appreciate constructive feedback.
• Seek a mentor but most importantly be a mentor and knowledge share.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Whatever you are, be a good one.”

2. Certifications

You own your career development. When you’re deciding whether to get an administrative certification, there’s no right or wrong answer. As with anything that is worth having, there’s the time, money and effort required. Investing in you, your career and your professional brand is always a good choice. With so many types of credentialing and administrative certification options available, it is up to you to decide what matches your career plan.

• Administrative Certifications should include Fundamentals, Applications, Office Procedures, and Technology.
• Any form of higher learning adds value and confidence.
• Having a certification is a stamp of quality. It demonstrates forward thinking.
• A certification sets you apart from the competition.
• A certification keeps you valuable and marketable in the event market downturn
• Be in the know! Continually seek creative ways to obtain professional development.
• Mentoring and knowledge sharing among peers is the most cost-efficient type of training.
• Research and join administrative associations/network groups. These usually include the newest types of certifications. Examples: Oil & Gas Admins International, Executive Leadership Support Forum, International Association of Administrative Professionals.

Norman Vincent Peale said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

3. Competencies

EA competencies are knowledge, skills, abilities, and behavioral characteristics critical to job performance. Having an in-depth competency review at each annual review is a great tool to show the comprehension of your role. Trust your Executive’s input and exercise your understanding of each task together. I would also recommend having your company’s business plan and pillars listed. There are many competency reviews on the internet or create your own.

Administrative Job Required Competencies:

• Appointment Coordination and Planning
• Utilizing Office Technology & Systems
• Office Communication & Recordkeeping Proficiency
• Office Space Organization and Processes
• Professional Behavior and Attitude.
• Trustworthy & exercises confidentiality
• Supporting Multiple Managers or Senior Executives
• Expense Report, Travel, and Visas
• Teamwork and Collaboration Skills
• Industry Savvy

Vince Lombardi Jr said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not the lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.”

4. Collaboration

Collaboration among administrative staff is a soft skill that takes practice, patience, and constant nurturing. All administrative professionals must work together and support each other. I can’t say this enough. “Mentoring and collaborating versus divisiveness and competitiveness.” No more Queen Bees! Pull admins in by using influence and tact. The ways in which we communicate are changing daily. Be ready for the digital era!

Collaborating with administrative peers:

• Instructions must be clear. (process, owner & due date)
• Assign tasks equally & fairly.
• Be diverse on thought. Your way is not the only way.
• Collaborating does not mean others will do your work.
• Be thankful and give praise for their time and support!
• If you are not frequently asked to participate in administrative events, go ask. Offer your support.
• How you say, it is as important as what you say. Watch for tone and delivery.

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success. – Henry Ford

5. Corporate Citizen

Employee engagement has become the holy grail of top companies and their management teams. Employers want employees who will go the extra mile in their jobs and be involved in extra-role behavior. Remember to list all of your contributions in your annual review.

• Volunteer at community events
• Join Affinity Networks
• Attend company meetings
• Environmental Awareness & Protection
• Represent your company in a peer knowledge sharing in an external setting.
• Create the culture of inclusiveness.

“The simplest way to be happy is to do good.” Helen Keller

6. Change

The only thing certain in life is change. I usually refer to the term, “Shift Happens.” At work, change is constant; the wrong reaction can sometimes be a career-killer. Being prepared for change will help in overcoming the unknown and focusing on the way forward.
Why companies change:

• To minimize spend
• Make money or earn new business
• Improve efficiency & quality of a process, product, or procedure
• To remedy an existing problem
• Detect or Prevent a future problem
Prepare for change – Stay Positive:
• Find the good in the situation
• Talk about the plan forward more than feelings
• Focus on your values instead of your fears
• Create positive change… be the change.

Max McKeown, a famous English writer, and researcher said, “All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.”

7. Confidence

Confidence is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. All of the 7Cs will aide in giving you confidence.

• Value your journey, your abilities, and the time it took you to get to this point.
• Obtain Professional Development & Certifications
• Learn how to collaborate with all levels of the business.
• Being prepared for change.
• Finding your voice. Be prepared to speak to power.
• Seeing yourself as a partner of the business.
• Dress, walk, speak, and sit with confidence.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” —Mahatma Gandhi

I’ve made a successful career in the administrative field and continuedly advocate the importance and value of Administrative Professionals in the workplace. My journey has been fulfilling as I grew my career from a receptionist to Sr. EA.

The Administrative Profession is truly rewarding. And, do not sell yourself short. Stellar Administrative Assistants are not a dime a dozen. Value your worth and journey.

If you continually lead at work with passion, purpose, good values, confidence and grit, you are well in your way of embarking on a marvelous administrative career. I am an administrative professional and truly proud of it.