Excelling as an administrative professional

Linda White, Special to The Sun

, Last Updated: 2:40 PM ET

Long gone are the days when offices had secretaries whose responsibilities included answering the phone and typing letters.

Today's administrative professionals handle those tasks and many others. As workplaces become increasingly mobile, their role will continue to evolve, experts predict.

"Administrative professionals are well-positioned to take on expanded responsibilities involving project management, communication, use of office technology and other vital business functions," says Kay Enlow, international president of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP).

Josie von Zalinski, Toronto IAAP Chapter president (www.iaaptoronto.com) agrees. "Our role is more than taking dictation and producing documents. Technology is changing daily and it's something we have to stay on top of ... One has to adapt and commit to education, either on their own or through their employer."

In a study conducted by OfficeTeam and IAAP, 86% of managers and administrative professionals surveyed said duties have grown more complex over the past two years to include: client relationship management, budget tracking, event planning, database management, research and training, desktop publishing, project management and computer support.

It's a trend expected to continue: 82% of administrative employees polled said they want to assume more responsibility and 70% of managers believe they could better utilize their assistants' skills and abilities.

More than 250 managers and 300 administrative professionals were surveyed. The findings have been published in the booklet Making It Click, released to coincide with Administrative Professionals Week, an annual event that high-lights administrative employees' contributions to the workplace. Attributes

What does it take to excel as an administrative professional in today's workplaces? The survey identified the following attributes as crucial:

- The ability to manage and prioritize multiple projects

- Interpersonal and communication skills

- Computer and Internet skills

- An understanding of the organization and its challenges

- Teamwork skills


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