The Good, Better, Best of Professional Development for Admins

A few years ago, I interviewed to be the executive assistant to the CEO of a biomedical company. The day had gone pretty much as you would imagine – being shuffled between conference rooms and offices meeting various team members, answering carefully planned questions, hearing all about how great the company was to work for. When the time came for me to finally meet the CEO, I was more than ready to discuss the role truly in depth. He did a sufficient job of detailing the requirements, answering my questions about him, and continuing to sell me on the corporate culture.

He proudly highlighted the on-going programs they had for employees – one being themed Friday lunches (“I dressed up as a superhero last week!”) and the on-site training seminars. This piqued my interest as he outlined how cross-training helped boost employee morale and retention. Awesome – sounded great! So I asked the natural next question.

“How do you invest in your administrative staff?”

His response was, “Why would I do that? They’re just admins.”

Certification Programs for Administrative Professionals

Whether you’re an administrative professional looking for a way to validate your skill set or a manager looking to contribute to your admin’s professional development (thank you, thank you, thank you), certification is the perfect step.

Or maybe you’re just looking to understand certifications. That’s great too! Welcome!

An admin can spend years of doing professional development and training to become a badass at what they do. I’ve been there. I’ve taken everything from project management courses to writing workshops. I’ve worked hard to expand my business acumen and build up a toolbox of skills.

However, to be honest…it’s not enough.

As an admin, it’s remarkably difficult to gauge our skills prior to performance on the job. We can fill pages and pages of our resume or LinkedIn to set ourselves apart, listing every skill we claim to have. But honestly, how do you measure someone’s proficiency in office management or business communication? A manager can call for references or give a practical during the interview. This may give a glimmer of what a candidate can actually do but it’s not the full picture.

There is another better way…

Certification.

Why get certified?

How to Effectively Use Email Hyperlinks

In a past role, I supported an executive with digital marketing materials for events. Our firm hosted a number of networking events as well as a large annual meeting. At any given time, we would have invites out for two or three events and sometimes there was overlap in invitees. Meaning, communication could easily get muddy.

Then I learned a trick that forever changed my email efficiency.

How to Prevent the Reply All Tsunami

We’ve all been there. An email is sent to a large distribution list and suddenly – ping! ping! ping! A flood of replies ensues.

Then here comes my favorite email, “Can everyone stop hitting reply all?”

Ha! That’s super helpful!

The sad part is this onslaught of emails is usually well-intentioned. Think about the last time this happened to you. What is the common message?

My very unscientific estimation would be 99% of the time the responses were words of congratulations. Sweet, right? Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t need to read those words of celebration.

So, the question is – how do we escape the tsunami of “Reply All” emails?

Questions to Ask in an Interview for Assistants

Okay, you made it. You’re at the end of the interview and you’re feeling pretty good. The vibe between you and your potential new executive is positive and you feel like you have a pretty solid knowledge about the company and the job duties. Then she asks…

“Do you have any questions for me?”

You choke for a minute. Your brain is spinning. Was there something we didn’t cover? What will sound clever? Ugh – a million questions, but what’s appropriate right now?

You take a deep breath and the only comment you can muster is a chipper, “Nope! Not at this time.”

Wrong.

Increase Your Effectiveness with this Daily Habit

A common productivity hang-up is the inability to stay focused on what’s important. Whether it is feeling buried under all the tasks that need to be completed or dealing with constant interruptions, getting thrown off course is so easy. Plus, life is just full of distractions. Then you get to the end of the day and feel like it was wasted. Where did the time go? Did you actually get anything done that you needed to?

I’ve been there – I get it.

However, you don’t have to be a victim of this black hole. There is a way to get everything done and feel accomplished, rather than frustrated, at the end of the day.

Using a Phone Contact as a Business Card

Every year, I attend an executive assistant conference. I have wonderful conversations with interesting women and men from all over the country and come away with an expanding network… and a stack of business cards.

Don’t get me wrong – I love business cards. They can be creative, interesting, and incredibly effective at creating a lasting connection.

However, there are some downsides. Inevitably, cards get lost or I run out of cards. I try to write a quick note about how I met someone or a follow-up note on a card, but it’s bad etiquette to write on a business card and there’s rarely enough space. Then, what happens when I get home? I have a huge stack of business cards that I spend time converting to contacts anyway.

Finally, I had a brilliant idea to make my life and others’ a tad easier.

Stay on Task by Scheduling Your To-Do’s

As part of my morning routine, I cruise LinkedIn to find interesting articles about the workplace. One day, I came across Forbes’s 15 Surprising Things Productive People Do Differently and one tip stuck out to me.

Secret #3: They don’t use to-do lists.

Throw away your to-do list; instead schedule everything on your calendar. It turns out only 41% of items on to-do lists are ever actually done. And all those undone items lead to stress and insomnia because of the Zeigarnik effect. Highly productive people put everything on their calendar and then work and live from that calendar. “Use a calendar and schedule your entire day into 15-minute blocks. It sounds like a pain, but this will set you up in the 95th percentile…”, advises the co-founder of The Art of Charm, Jordan Harbinger.

Now, I don’t subscribe to this entirely. I still use a physical to-do list because writing down my tasks helps commit them to memory and prioritize what needs to be done. However, I do schedule my to-do’s and let me tell you, it’s a game changer.