22 January 2008

Becoming a Go-To Assistant

It is exciting when you get the call telling you that you were selected for the job. There is a lot of work that goes into preparing for the interview and to know that you were successful is a great feeling. You will want to be the best that you can be. Here are some things you can think about as you continue in your career whether you’ve been on the job one week or 20 years.

The "Leave it With Me" attitude

Do you want to be the kind of assistant your boss and others in the office look to when they need help because they know you will get right on it and get the job done? It is never too soon to begin or too late to start.

In the interview you were probably asked if you had initiative, but once you are in the job will you show it?

Initiative can be defined as using your own judgment to make decisions and doing things without having to be told. If you have initiative, you have a plan and take the next step to accomplish the task.

Can you have too much initiative?

Be prepared to go through a learning curve. The more experience you have the sooner you will be able to take more initiative, but if you are new, don't be afraid to ask questions. Write the answers down. Your co-workers will usually be more than happy to pass this information along so that you can become part of the team. As you begin to feel confident and get knowledge about what is expected of you, then you will be able to make more decisions and take on tasks on your own. This is the best time to start putting together a secretarial manual.

The Secretarial Manual

Never underestimate the value of compiling your own secretarial manual. When you find out how to do something or who to call to get something done, write it in your manual. This will be a great resource throughout your career.

You can either start a Secretarial Manual in a Word document, or some people are finding using their Contact Cards in Outlook a great tool for storing information they need to know. If you are using your Contact Cards a good suggestion would be to create a subfolder for your Secretarial Manual to keep it separate from your other Contact Cards.

Lynn Crosbie a Medical Assistant at a Research Hospital says, “Every time I learn something new, I write it in my manual, i.e. how to use the fax machine, information about the phone system, where the photocopier is located, who my contacts are in this position, who I can call for help, etc. If I write it down the first time, I probably won't have to ask again (which your new co-workers will appreciate)”.

Become an Expert

Don't always rely on the IT staff for help with software issues. Educate yourself on the software programs you use. Microsoft offers on-line tutorials. And there is always the Help feature. It is a great tool for finding the answers you need.

Are you comfortable using the features on your telephone? When your boss wants you to set up a conference call or forward a message, can he or she rely on you to know what to do. Take the time to read and understand the telephone user's manual and keep it handy. Then when your boss urgently calls you in with a question you will be able to help.

Do you use the photocopier and fax machine at a basic level or have you learnt some of the advanced features? The mailroom staff are usually more than happy to help you if you want to learn more. If you are the mailroom staff as well as the assistant, call the company that sold the photocopier to your organization and ask if they offer training. A lot of the newer machines either have a "Help feature" built right into it or they show "error messages" to help you figure out where the problem is.

Sue Marsh, a team leader and busy assistant in a law firm agrees, "The bottom line is the more you know, the better you can assist your professional and the rest of your team and it makes your work easier to do".


Becoming a Go-To Assistant, doesn't mean you have to know everything and do it all yourself, sometimes it is just taking the task and passing it on to someone who does. One of our greatest resources is our co-workers.

Pass it on

For those who have been on the job for many years, when someone new is hired on become a mentor. What a great way to help someone new learn the ropes. And who knows they may teach you something as well.

As an assistant you are an important part of the team and your skills are needed to effectively complete a project or job. Become the Go-To Assistant in your office.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This basically describes me. My staff members sometimes call me "The Hub", since I am the go-to person for almost anything.

But I've realized that you have to know your limits and have to say "no" at times. You can always negotiate tasks, to see if you can push back others and take on the new one or do the new task at a later time.


Richard Rinyai