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12 Challenges Administrative Assistants Face

12 Challenges Administrative Assistants Face

Administrative assistant positions are found in almost every industry. Whether it’s finance, mining, legal, film, and/or retail, this position can be extremely demanding, and definitely deserves some recognition. Some might believe that being an administrative assistant is easy. That’s not the case, administrative assistants work extremely hard. They are educated individuals, who have charming personalities, and can pretty much do anything.

1. They Can Be Forced To Deal With Difficult Personalities

Most administrative assistants have had to deal with a lot of personalities coming in and out of the office space. Generally, these people will be pleasant, while others will be ticking time-bombs throbbing with compressed anger, ready to unleash on the polite administrative assistant.

When dealing with a difficult personality, admin staff usually have a witty charm about them. They can help the heated individual calm down and gain confidence in the company once again, by providing trust and reassuring the angry individual that all will be resolved as soon as possible.

2. They Can Be Seen As Someone Of Lesser Importance

Somehow, the administrative assistant position has been classified as a starting position for most companies. What most people don’t understand is that being an administrative assistant is a professional career in which people can excel.

Administrative assistants are so proud of their careers, their knowledge, and their humbleness, that it’s easy for them to simply brush off anyone who questions their plan for career advancement. They know how important their role is, and how they bring growth to the company they work for.

3. They Can Be Expected To Clean Up After Everyone

You would think with an office full of grown adults, that people would know how to clean up after themselves. Admin staff know that their job requires many nurturing duties, but they also know that they have a problem, when they start finding banana peels left to decay on the boardroom floor.

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Administrative assistants deal with messy co-workers by simply placing posters and signs reflecting their co-worker`s unethical workplace hygiene. They may not always call out an individual directly, but the message is clear, dirty dishes left on the kitchen counter and candy wrappers on the floor will not be tolerated.

4. They Can Be Expected To Fix Anything And Everything

Did you know that administrative assistants are IT technicians as well? They are expected to fix internet problems, connect employees to network printers, help with software, and then go back to filing paperwork and answering multiple phone lines. Not to mention the amount of times they’ve had to lug leaky garbage bags to the dumpster, change exploding toner bottles in the photo copier, refill empty ink pads and pens, pull old banker boxes from the dusty storage, and more.

Administrative assistants are not certified plumbers, electricians, or technicians of any kind. Yet, they find a way to solve the problem at hand with their amazing problem-solving skills and physical abilities.

5. They Can Be Expected To Know Everything, Even When Not Included In Meetings And Private Conversations

There are meetings and conference calls all day, in which they are not included in. Yet, they are expected to know what’s going on at all times.

Despite their inabilities to make executive decisions, they know more information than the typical employee. They are an information hub. This is because they have mastered the act of ease dropping, asking the right questions, and piecing bits of information together to obtain the right answers. Basically, they are all detectives.

6. They Can Be Blamed For Anything That Goes Wrong

They may not be the decision maker, but when everything goes awry, all fingers point to them as the culprit, or at least it’s their responsibility to solve the issue.

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To avoid being accused or blamed for anything, administrative assistants log their work day. They write everything down and create a systematic paper trail for themselves to cover their schedule from start to end, just in case of an unexpected hiccup.

7. They Can Be Expected To Always Be Available

Sometimes, administrative assistants eat as they work. They can be mid-bite into their lunch when they are approached by a co-worker about an upcoming meeting, broken internet connection, or even a flooded toilet.

Knowing when to draw the line is half the battle, because some co-workers can make a situation sound so much more urgent than it really is. For their own benefit, administrative assistants learn to make judgement calls based on the situation at hand. They will always agree to address the problem, but sometimes they decide that after lunch works best for them.

8. They Can Have Their Desk Used As A Dumping Station

They love the feeling of making a huge dent in their work pile, but if they walk away for just a moment, they are sure to be welcomed back by additional paperwork sitting in their inbox.

To keep up with steady incoming work, they sort and manage everything in categories and then prioritize them. Administrative assistants are extremely organized and know how to keep a productive workflow to handle large loads of labor.

9. They Can Have No Privacy

Being the assistant to pretty much everyone means that their desk is a free for all for those they work with. They are the keeper of keys, passwords, stationary, supplies and the great all might candy drawer.

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To keep their space to themselves, they develop homes for all company property outside of their personal bubble. Anything that is personal is kept far away in an opposing corner such as car keys, wallet, and cell phone.

10. They Can Lack Physical Activity

Someday, there’s too many emails, and too much paperwork piling into their inbox to even walk away. Sometimes, they may even sacrifice taking a break or lunch to complete a job.

Administrative assistants have such a great work ethic: they can easily multitask and work harder to find extra time during their day for a refreshing walk outside.

11. They Can Sometimes Be The Butt Of The Office Jokes

When administrative assistants make a mistake, which can happen, they are sometimes the butt of all jokes for the rest of the day.

To deal with mockery, they just chime in with everyone else and laugh at their own mistakes. They know that being able to admit their flaws and to learn from them is a sign of great leadership.

12. They Can Be Under Paid And Feel Unappreciated

The status of an administrative assistant position is debatable depending on the point of view it’s looked at. With the work-load of a hundred people, they are sometimes paid as if they are at the bottom of the totem pole.

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Sometimes their employers are so busy themselves, that the admin staff need to bring up the fact that a raise should be addressed. Sometimes employers forget how much their administrative assistants have done for the company, and they should be appreciated regularly.

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

Reference

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