Attributes of a Great Assistant

What Administrators Value in Their Assistants

What makes a great administrative assistant? Is it outstanding organizational skills? Is it judgment and strength as a gatekeeper? Is it a knack for anticipating and solving problems?

It’s not all about making coffee, typing letters, answering phones, or ordering lunch and office supplies.

I did a survey and asked some administrators and pastors what their assistants did that was the most helpful to them. I enjoyed reading their responses and thought you might enjoy them as well:

  • My assistant has an encouraging and cheerful spirit.
  • My assistant has a servant’s heart to take care of even little requests with a dependable and positive spirit.
  • My assistant anticipates what needs to be done.
  • The most helpful thing is the management of my schedule. While the outside speaking schedule is a major task (returning phone calls, e-mails, getting the itinerary for the week, making plane reservations, etc.), the other area I refer to is the day to day management of my office time.
  • I am in the classroom on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 6:30 am until 1:00 pm and on Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 am until 2:30 pm. This means that a lot of people are coming by, calling, and e-mailing while I am out of the office. My assistant treats all of them as important and makes sure that no one feels like I am never available. She then manages to fit them into the tight window of the afternoons or in and around any evening activities. I know that she gets very frustrated at times with the volume of it all, but that never shows when she is dealing with people. To me that is very valuable and important.
  • She gives attention to detail. She is conscientious.
  • She reminds me.
  • After one of these pastors had responded to me, he emailed me “more” a few days later: The most important thing my assistant does for me changes—it’s whatever I need her to do “right now,” so it’s hard to nail down a specific task or function, since the urgent changes so quickly. That’s why I put keeping a great spirit as number one. That matters all the time, and greatly impacts how she responds when “what’s important” changes.

A good administrative assistant:

  • Is organized
  • Is attentive to details
  • Multitasks
  • Wears many hats
  • Follows through on tracking, organizing events, projects, and appointments
  • Follows through quickly and efficiently with all tasks
  • Knows when to keep her mouth closed and when not to
  • Is a good speller
  • Has good grammar skills
  • Knows how to interpret the boss’s handwriting

Ask yourself: “If you don’t have time to do it right, when do you have time to do it again?”

In closing:

  • Don’t let your skills and abilities get too outdated. (I have a friend who went to Best Buy and took a class on how to fully utilize her computer.) The tools are available, so don’t get stagnant or complacent.
  • Keep growing
  • Keep learning

We should ask ourselves:

  • Have I grown this past year?
  • If you were late to work last year, are you on time this year?
  • Am I more humble than I was one year ago?
  • Am I closer to the Lord than I was last year?
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