Administrative professionals are often requested to deliver on tasks above their standard scope of work. This can be stressful, often is above the usual workload and in many cases the task brief is not completely clear. Errors can occur. This can be very frustrating for the person who planned the task in the first place, and for administrators who do are not able to succeed as a result.

How are administrators expected to deliver in these circumstances?

Administrators need to be given the freedom to think and plan. Administrative positions are not always given their due, as employees may be considered junior within the hierarchy of an organisation. Much of the work administrators are asked to do is not straight forward, and requires a clear head and focus to deliver and therefore succeed.

How many times have my colleagues come up to me and started a conversation by saying ‘I know you’re busy but…’. Administrative tasks have a number of elements, which require a structured and logical approach to deliver.

If steps are missed, a task may not be successfully completed. Missed steps can be caused by added pressure, continuous interruptions, or unexpected changes to the scope of a task.
As administrators we learn a wide range of skills, and endeavour to adapt coherently into an office environment. We provide support, structure, become intuitive to needs. Expectations grow and trust builds. Task failure is not because a good administrator cannot do their job. In many cases, it’s due to administrators not getting the time to think and plan how to deliver their work.

How can administrators deliver on their work and also have time to think and plan?

When the going gets busy, the team must talk. Many times the task becomes much more complex than expected, or elements of the task may not have been part of the initial parameters. This is okay, but administrators need time to monitor a task, advise the team and then move forward accordingly.

Can administrators be given an hour of uninterrupted time per day? Is there a space that administrators can go to get away from their desk and interruptions? Does your workplace have the flexibility for staff to leave the office? Do your administrators need extra resources to achieve the tasks requested? Depending on the type of task, knowing there is the opportunity to ask for some time to think can be a very productive approach.

Having the freedom to go to a coffee shop every once in a while to think and plan made such a difference to delivery of my tasks.

An important point for employers is be aware of is they need to make make sure the office cultivates good practice when it comes to busy periods and extra work, and makes sure administrators are given every opportunity to succeed.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin