As a proud former administrative professional—and a current admin trainer and coach—I believe that support professionals can play an invaluable role in the workplace.
Of course, that’s not always the case. There is a wide array of roles that qualify as “administrative” in nature, and a wide variety of people who occupy them. Some admins simply follow instructions and do what is asked of them—no more, no less. They meet expectations, but they aren’t really challenged. They don’t engage in truly meaningful work. And as a result, these admins don’t create meaningful careers for themselves.
That’s perfectly fine…for some people. But, if you’re an administrative professional who wants meaningful work and a meaningful career, you have more power than you might think. The admin role holds a lot of opportunity for those who put in the effort. All it takes is a little creative thinking and a willingness to put yourself “out there.” Yes, it’s a risk but the reward is well worth it.
If you want to do more meaningful work as an admin, here are 7 ways to get started today.
1. Solve Problems
As an admin, you are in an ideal position to see the problems of your organization. Identifying the problem is only step one—don’t simply point it out, complain about it and drop the problem on your boss’s lap. If you want to be involved in more meaningful work, focus on solving the problem. You don’t have to find the perfect solution all on your own, but devote some mental attention to brainstorming possibilities. That way, when you share the problem with your superiors, you can also share your recommendations.
2. Improve Processes
Admins are involved in countless processes—from running reports to managing data and beyond! Unfortunately, many existing processes are inefficient. They haven’t been truly evaluated in (perhaps) years. As the person actually doing them, you’re in the best position to find improvements. This can include identifying opportunities for automation or even for complete elimination of certain elements. If you can streamline and optimize your current processes, you’ll have greater capacity for more meaningful work in the future.
3. Anticipate Needs
The most successful admins are often thought of as “mind readers.” Of course, they aren’t truly psychic, but they don’t shy away from the challenge of that idea. Learning how to anticipate the needs of the person or people you support is an ever-changing puzzle. It requires deep understanding of the business, recognition of patterns, and an uncanny ability to “predict” the future. When you truly master this skillset, you are able to contribute in a much more meaningful way. You are proactively creating the future rather than simply waiting for things to happen.
If you need more support in learning how to be proactive, pick up my book, “The Proactive Professional: How to Stop Playing Catch Up & Start Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life!)”
4. Make More Decisions
Admins often have more decision-making authority than they think. I find that many admins get comfortable abdicating decision-making to others; after all, it’s much easier and safer! But here’s the truth: you are more than capable of making many of these decisions on your own. Ask for more responsibility in this area and you will probably be pleasantly surprised. When you’re the decision-maker, you’re automatically more invested in the outcome, which helps give more meaning to whatever it is you’re doing.
5. Manage Projects
As an admin, you are likely involved in many projects of various size and complexity. To contribute in a more meaningful way, step up to lead projects where possible. There are few things more satisfying than taking a project from concept to completion. When you are managing a project, you oversee every step—it’s your job to work through the obstacles, make sure budgets are in check and deadlines met. It’s a lot of work and a lot of responsibility, but it’s also deeply rewarding.
6. Mentor Other Admins
One of the most powerful ways to feel your work is meaningful is to help others simply for the sake of it. By helping to develop another admin, you’re spreading your wealth of wisdom. You’re lifting them up by sharing what you know based on your own experiences. Believe me, people don’t forget that kind of generosity and selflessness. When you take time to support your peers and then watch them grow as a result of it, you will feel a deep sense of fulfillment and purpose.
7. Develop Deeply Meaningful Relationships
As an admin, your job (at its core) is to support others to achieve their goals; that becomes more meaningful when you are truly invested in the success of the other person or people…when you care about them on a real level. Focus on making your relationships with others meaningful and you’ll create a deeper connection to all aspects of your work.