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15 Undeniable Skills of an Administrative Assistant (Part 1 of 3)

skills of an administrative assistant

Today’s blog is one in a series on education, best practices and industry hot topics related to careers in Administration, including but not limited to those working as Executive Assistants, Admin Assistants and Office Managers.  Today’s Admins handle duties that have no limits in scope and as the greater Philadelphia’s most trusted Corporate Transportation partner, Kevin Smith Transportation Group is invested in supporting those who work to make sure their companies run smoothly every day. 

A stellar Administrative Assistant can be a company’s secret weapon.  “Administrative Assistant” used to be synonymous with things like scheduling, bookkeeping, and arranging travel. Not so today.

While these functions are still an important part of the job, these days admins are tasked with a lot more. Often, Admins take on front-line strategic functions traditionally relegated to HR or operations – things like onboarding new hires and event planning.

Admins are also often tasked with managing company culture.  More and more, maintaining a positive office culture is critical for recruiting and retaining top talent, engaging employees, and inspiring them to perform their best. A company’s Admin is very often tasked with culture-related responsibilities like planning offsites, managing perks like office snacks, and generally maintaining the office vibe.

When it comes down to it, Admins are expected to keep things running smoothly, no matter what it takes. Think of them sort of like the “utility player” in baseball. They’re Jacks- and Jills-of-all-trades, expected to perform at a high level in a ton of different situations.

So it makes sense that today’s Admins need a wide array of skills in order to succeed in this challenging role.  But what are those skills? And what separates the good admins from the great?  That’s exactly what we asked our community of Rockstar admins that we work with almost daily managing their ground transportation needs. Here are the skills they say really pay the bills.

If you want to hire your own Personal Assistant to book ground transportation, call 610-222-6225 and speak to one of Kevin Smith Transportation Group’s Corporate Concierges who can assist you with everything from Airport Transportation, Executive Black Car Service and Employee Shuttle Services.

Administrative Assistant Skills

1. Creative Problem Solving

Since an Admin’s main responsibility is to keep things on point, problem-solving is an indispensable skill.  “Administrative Assistants are in a unique position to be polymaths – they know about so many different aspects of their work environment and are seen as a go-to for problem-solving.  The more they are able to effectively troubleshoot, the more valuable they become in their position because they keep everything moving smoothly.”

Creativity and the ability to improvise is a necessary part of the equation at companies of any size.  “I see this at both small and large-scale companies, but at a small company like mine, the impact of these skills is monumental and really gets you noticed.”

2. Proper Etiquette

Admins interface with people every single day. All sorts of people.  Like Office Managers, Admins are one of the few people in a company (other than perhaps the CEO or senior HR staff) that deal with employees at every level.

Of course, this isn’t limited to internal interactions. The Admin role is almost always forward-facing. If you’re an Admin, you’re often the gatekeeper for a department or executive, handling incoming calls, reaching out to vendors, or speaking directly with high-level execs at other companies.

That’s why good manners and etiquette are so important. Admin Elizabeth White-Peters explains, telling us that manners are “a lost art that guides one through many challenging circumstances.”

According to one of our Rockstar Admins, one of the secrets to mastering the art of manners is in listening. She says, “a Rockstar Admin listens not just to the words but also to the tone and body language in order to read between the lines.  Here’s an example of what she means.

“The phone rings.  It’s an aggravated voice demanding to speak with the Manager.  While smiling and being polite, as admin quickly assesses the situation.  Based on company culture, several actions could take place: one could take a note and assure the caller it would be passed on.  One could put the caller on hold and determine how to interrupt the manager and or transfer the call.  Or you could try to resolve the issue directly. “

“By listening to language and tone, one can determine which actions to take.  Each step of the way with polite communication, the potential of handling the situation to best results for the caller and manager increases.”

“Please and thank you will be noticed by both.  With experience, the admin will learn from the Manager what worked well and this, know how to handle for the next occurrence.”

Admins, it turns out, need a high emotional IQ, and the ability to read people and react accordingly. 

If you want to hire your own Personal Assistant to book ground transportation, call 610-222-6225 and speak to one of Kevin Smith Transportation Group’s Corporate Concierges who can assist you with everything from Airport Transportation, Executive Black Car Service and Employee Shuttle Services.

3. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to a knack for understanding and even influencing emotions in ourselves and others. The most successful Admins have emotional intelligence in spades. Here’s why:

  • Emotional intelligence makes people easy to work with. Admins attuned to the emotions of others achieve better results from negotiations and other interactions. Emotional intelligence translates to better outcomes in dealing with all people and all situations, making it a must-have skill for Admins, who have to request work, perform work, and negotiate about work with tons of people.
  • Emotional intelligence helps people manage the emotions of others. This ability to read people helps Admins anticipate the needs of bosses and other key associates. For example, guessing that a boss is unhappy with a report gives an ambitious Admin the chance to win favor by redirecting or reframing the conversation.
  • Emotional intelligence makes conflict resolution a breeze. Understanding emotions makes dealing with emotions, even negatives ones, easier. And knowing how to deal with emotions gives Admins the tools to resolve any conflict.
  • Emotional intelligence makes stress easier to manage. Emotionally intelligent Admins can recognize the signs of their own stress and realize it’s time for a meditation break.

4. Foresight and Anticipation

The best Admins don’t need to be told what to do. They anticipate the solution before the problem even becomes a problem. These Admins rise from being super helpful to being indispensable, the secret weapons bosses just can’t live without.

One of our Rockstars said in her mind, it was her ability to anticipate that really made her shine.

“Paying attention to the details is really going to take you far because these execs demand perfection and while they try to be as nice as they can be, they still want things to do to be done right and your job is to make their lives easier.”

“If you can stay one step ahead of the boss (for example booking a reservation for a meeting you see on their calendar), that anticipation and that kind of preparedness over and above them is going to really make you stand out to them.”

The Admin can be the Exec’s best friend and if they’re thinking one step ahead of them, you’re going to stand out.  Since their work involves so many different aspects within a company, they have a distinct ability to predict potential challenges and outcomes.”

5. Multitasking

In the past, we’ve argued that multitasking is a myth that destroys productivity. Our brains aren’t wired to perform more than one-high level task at a time, so the best strategy is to prioritize and knock them out one by one.

And while this is largely true, you shouldn’t try to write a financial model while you’re on a sales call, for instance, some of an Admin’s core responsibilities require them to knock out tasks simultaneously.

That’s because in addition to the bigger, more strategic responsibilities, rote tasks like filing or scheduling still often fall to Admins. Being able to get these done quickly or simultaneously  is a major advantage. The best Admins do this effortlessly.

One of our Rockstar Admins explained.  “The top skill that an Administrative Assistant needs is the ability is to multi-task.  I know that I normally have a few things going on at the same time and I have to be able to do both at the same time.”

“For example, I have to make hotel rooms and book car service for our incoming clients and while I am on the phone, I can also answer email or finish up other paperwork.”

Thank you for reading part one of today’s blog on the Administrative Professional industry.  Please visit us next week for part two of three as we continue to publish tips, industry news and strategies that directly impact every Administrative Professional.

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