To undervalue your business admin function, is to undervalue the backbone of your company and potentially, the most important cog in the wheel that ensures all others run smoothly. The danger of undervaluing this important function is critical, as losing it would cause chaos and instability.
A business admin function is not just about taking minutes and filing, it is about all the tasks you have delegated, as well as all the unseen, hidden tasks that are undertaken without your knowledge, but that are crucial to the smooth running of your business. From social media management, document production, research, relationship management, bookkeeping, minute taking, diary management, systems knowledge, and possibly other responsibilities such as HR, Accountancy and Marketing – this is a very broad scope of knowledge that should never be taken lightly. A good PA is always a step ahead of you (sometimes 3 or 4!) which means that you may never really know exactly what they have done to contribute to your working day. However, you will very quickly know if you begin to undervalue it and the cracks begin to show.
According to Hays, many people with a PA now see their contribution to the organisation as equivalent to a manager or director. Today’s PAs are decision makers and business influences, have strong social media skills and often manage other support workers and teams. The PA role is constantly evolving to keep up with demand and technological innovation. Advances in technology are streamlining and reducing many of the traditional PA duties.
If you were to neglect your business admin function, it would have a detrimental effect on all areas of your business. The admin function is one of the most pivotal parts of any business, allowing everyone else in the business to do what they’re good at – whether it be sales, executing, writing, creating, delivering, etc.
With that in mind, we have created a list of ideas to make sure your PA and admin function in general is valued:
- Recognise their talent and hard work
It sounds simple enough, but most admin workers can feel undervalued just by a lack of recognition, and there is a correlation between how much responsibility a PA has and the potential for feeling like it is a ‘thankless’ job.
Admin professionals should be celebrated and their place as a trusted partner in the success of the business should be front and centre.
Tip – on team calls, ensure that the PA is involved and thanked for their hard work. (Often PAs are only part of team calls to take minutes; make sure they know you appreciate them.) Celebrate Administrative Professionals Day every April!
- Automate where possible
This may seem counter-intuitive, but reducing the time your PA spends on menial, repetitive tasks means they have more time available for more value-add projects which is more rewarding for both you and your PA.
Tip – have a constant dialogue with your admin team and listen to their suggestions. Ask them how you can help them do their job better or help them do more of the parts they enjoy. (People work better when they enjoy what they are doing.)
- Elevate the Role
The admin function can sometimes be a general go-to place for ad-hoc projects that don’t fit neatly into another department’s remit. Over time, these tasks add up and soon your PA can feel overburdened and underwhelmed, particularly if they realise that the tasks they are taking on are not necessarily defined as their responsibility.
Tip – think of changing the job title of your administrator or PA to a more personal, applicable title.
- Set boundaries
If you are part of a growing business, be careful that people don’t use your admin function as a dumping ground for all tasks they don’t want to do. Some employees have a sense that the admin function is the lowest in the organisation and freely delegate to them. The result of this can be that a PA ends up working for a plethora of different demanding bosses all expecting a lot and not respecting enough.
Tip – communicate to the whole team explaining what the admin team does and what their responsibility is (and isn’t!). This resolves any confusion or assumptions of the function of the admin staff.
- Be empathetic of the uniqueness of the role
Senior executives and business owners who have a PA or run an admin function are invariably well respected, intelligent, hard-working individuals. They have worked their way to the position they are in and surround themselves with a strong management team of experts and advisors. Most companies work on a hierarchal basis (even on an informal basis) where each level of seniority reports to the one above and delegates to the one below.
The PA/boss relationship defies this structure as more often than not, it is the most senior person who is delegating work to the one who is deemed the most junior.
It is important to be mindful of the approach you take when communicating with your PA – they will be thick-skinned, able to juggle multiple tasks and manage many personalities along the way, but exercising kindness and empathy occasionally will go a long way.
Tip – have a weekly 1:1 conversation with your PA with a more relaxed, personal approach to build a trusting relationship. Be open and honest and encourage your PA to do the same.
For more on this or to find out how we can further support your business contact us.
SmartPA Partner Charlotte Frank
Charlotte had supported executives in London as a Personal Assistant for 17 years prior to moving into project management within a global investment bank. Charlotte's key skills lie in core administrative duties as well as event management, project management, research, data analysis and the creation of presentations.