How to Be a Good Secretary
Whether you work as a secretary, personal assistant, administrative executive or any other title, you are in a service position. Your job is to make other people’s jobs easier, and this is usually no small task. Secretaries have a long list of duties all their own to which they add the needs of their boss and sometimes their boss’ other clients. Without a talented secretary, most offices would simply fall apart.
How do you become a good secretary? Here are eight aspects that all “super secretaries” share.
- Organized and detail oriented — No matter how disorganized the other people in the office are, a super secretary is well organized. “A place for everything and everything in its place” is the motto of a good secretary. We’re not just talking about pens and pencils being kept in their proper holders, we’re talking about important papers, the order of tasks to be completed, sometimes even complex tasks like payroll which need to be organized within an inch of their lives. The secretary is the first to arrive, get organized, and plan the day — as well as the last to leave with a plan for what will be tackled tomorrow. As for detail oriented — nothing escapes the super secretary. These vital office employees have names and dates memorized as well as intricate details about the business.
- Perform tasks quickly and efficiently — There are always going to be employees who drag their feet no matter the task at hand. The secretary or administrative assistant should always be aware of the time required for a certain task and try to beat that time. Performing a task quickly doesn’t always mean at top speed — that’s where that little word ‘efficiently’ comes in. A task that is completed hastily and sloppily won’t do anyone any good. The best secretaries know how to strike the perfect balance between speed and good work.
- Possess basic editing skills — Even if the secretary’s job description includes nothing about editing, word processing, or taking notes, a super secretary is prepared to edit the boss’ Christmas card to clients, organize a cabinet of file folders, clean up a memo to employees, or handle any word processing or typing needs the boss may have. Good secretaries have typing speeds up towards triple digits, practice their typing skills at home, and can proofread a written document in a short amount of time.
- Display a positive image for the company — Since the secretary is often the first face that a client or customer meets upon entering the building, the secretary offers that vital “first impression” that is so important in any business relationship. The secretary should appear busy, but not standoffish — at work, but happy to help. If the secretary displays a negative image, a worried look or a rushed appearance or expression, then the client or customer will draw certain conclusions about the business. As the primary ambassador for any business, the secretary or assistant must show a positive energetic face.
- Focused on solutions — So many of us focus on the negatives, zero in on problems without ever considering things from a positive point of view. A good secretary or personal assistant will constantly see things on the bright side, keeping the boss and other employees’ attitudes positive. When a secretary is focused on solutions, that secretary is more able to help get through a problem. This small facet of a super secretary is vital to the running of any business, as we all lose sight of our goals from time to time. A good secretary is a motivator.
- Always learning new skills — Because technology and the world of business are always changing, a good assistant will constantly be on the lookout for ways to improve his or her technical savvy or ability to keep up at work. Whether it is a new version of a popular software used for day to day business or the ins and outs of new social networking media that can improve the company’s profile, a super secretary is never really “out of training”.
- Does work with a smile — Though a good secretary or assistant is as much a hard worker as they are a grinning face, that smile goes a long way to keep up the office morale. Even when days get tough, when the fax machine is broken and it is pouring rain outside and there’s no one to fix the toilets and the network is down — the super secretary is there with a smile and a positive message. No matter how hard the work, a good assistant should always seem to be in good spirits.
- Professional appearance and demeanor — No secretary or assistant worth their carbon copy paper can show up to work looking less than 100%. This isn’t to say that you have to have a model-caliber body to be an effective assistant, just that your outward looks dictate your inward state. Dress appropriately, professionally, and treat everyone as an equal.
If you can follow the eight lessons, you’ll be well on your way to “super secretary” status.