Administrative Professional’s Day falls on the same Wednesday of the last full week of April every year.
Long gone are the days when this day was known simply as National Secretaries Day. For never the right reasons, secretaries seemed to be perceived “lesser-than” because of that title. It seemed they only typed and answered the telephone.
Now they have risen in profile and respect by their new title of office and administrative professional.
But how should leaders show their appreciation for their administrative professional?
Looking Through Historical Lenses
Stepping back into the past when typewriters were the name of the game and phones sat cradled on the desk, our secretaries typically received cards, flowers, treats, and, if someone really well liked them, they took them out to lunch.
Yet, if you go to the International Association of Administrative Professionals’ (IAAP) website, they will tell you right on the home page, “skip the flowers and treats, this day was started by IAAP in 1952 to provide administrative professionals a collective voice.”
That should be an indicator of what your leaders need to be doing.
And what do Administrative Professionals want to announce to the world?
Their website boldly declares, “The administrative profession deserves a seat at the table of business as a partner, not minute-taker. Admins should not expect to be recognized during this week and day, but instead should use this time to speak up and ask for the things they need to be successful—like commensurate pay and professional development opportunities.”
Looking To The Future
Yes, Administrative Professionals deserve the same respect and kindness shown to any other professional in your organization. Dependence on these administrators is immense, and they keep most organizations running effectively and efficiently.
Leaders can show appreciation to them by providing new opportunities for growth and development in leadership and work responsibilities. Leaders should explore with their administrators what kind of professional development they are seeking.
After all, these Administrative Professionals are business partners and leaders in their own right, and rise to most challenges placed before them.
For example, it impressed me that the University of British Columbia, Sauder School of Business, holds a two-day, online real-time program on Leadership Excellence for Administrative Professionals.
Administrative excellence involves much more than checking tasks off your to-do list. It requires taking a leadership mindset to ensure you are prioritizing the right things and making the right decisions.
Designed for administrative professionals, this program develops key administration management competencies, focusing specifically on communication skills, problem solving, decision making, and working within a dispersed work environment. The goal is to help the professional become an effective resource for peak performance within your organization.
You might give them an annual renewable membership to IAAP. And give them the chance to earn their Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) certification with the organization.
This might require reimbursing CAP exam fees. The CAP credential requires a minimum combination of education and professional experience. They assess an individual’s knowledge and proficiency on skills, concepts, and theories you use in your job. Doing the CAP requires 3 to 6 months of study to ensure they understand the concepts, skills, or theories and apply them.
There are six domains within the CAP program comprising:
- Organizational Communications
- Business Writing and Document Production
- Technology and Information Distribution
- Office and Records Management
- Event and Project Management
- Operational Functions
Professional Reality Check
I am sure that the IAAP organization was not saying don’t honor and celebrate the Administrative Professionals in your midst. But don’t downplay their contributions either, and the professional status they currently fill and aspire to achieve. They are extremely competent individuals, and we should regularly appreciate their work.
I recall many years ago an assistant we had in our Communications Disorders department in a hospital in Ontario. They gave her the opportunity to attend a one-day learning session by our managers.
Upon her return, I asked if I could review the course manual so I could learn more about the presentation she had attended. She willingly consented. What I didn’t expect to learn was one of her personal notations in the manual where she said people in her office rarely thanked her for the work she did.
This was back in the 80s when assistants had to go to the mailroom and the copier room to make all required photocopies. It was also around the same time that Post-It® Notes went public.
Whenever I needed photocopies for my clinical sessions, I would use a Post-It® Note specifying how many copies I needed. And I also left messages on these notes and vary how I expressed my appreciation to her for helping me with this task.
Interestingly, I noticed my copies got made before the manager’s. And while I never confirmed it, I am convinced it was because I consistently thanked her for what she did for me.
Take the time to thank the Administrative Professionals you have working for you and recognize the challenging role they fulfil. Make sure your leaders do not neglect them from participating in ongoing learning and development.
Recognition Reflection: Do the Administrative Professionals in your organization receive an equal opportunity for learning and development?
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.