Key Competencies for Administrative Professionals

19 Key Competencies for Administrative Professionals

As an administrative professional, it’s important to understand the expectations and responsibilities that come with the role. Gone are the days of simply answering phone calls and scheduling appointments; modern assistants are expected to be advisors, problem solvers, and even leaders within their organizations. But with all of these added responsibilities, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. That’s where the key competencies come in. These 19 responsibilities, including appointment management, manager support, and professional development, are essential for success as a modern assistant.

But what does this actually look like in practice? A good example is the competency of manager support. Today’s inner circle assistants don’t just wait to be told what to do; they are initiators. For example, an assistant might set up a trip for their manager, not just booking the flights and hotel rooms but also looking for additional speaking opportunities while they are there. This kind of proactive approach shows initiative and a willingness to go above and beyond to support the success of the team.

It’s important to remember that the role of the administrative professional has changed dramatically in recent years, and it’s up to us to keep up with these changes and continuously improve our skills. If you’re looking to take your career to the next level and become a valuable member of your company’s inner circle, it’s worth considering brushing up on these key competencies. As taught in the Star Achievement Series, these 19 pillars outline what it takes to be a successful, modern-day assistant.

The 19 Core Competencies for Administrative Professionals

Attitude Management

Being able to maintain a positive attitude and approach to work, even in difficult or stressful situations, is essential. However, it’s also not easy. An analogy we like to use in the Star Achievement Series is the similarities between eggs and attitudes. An egg is fragile and susceptible to outside forces, just like attitudes. A heated encounter can fry it, or an overload of activity can scramble it. Because our attitude can be so easily influenced and because it has the power to impact not only ourselves but those around us, it needs to be managed and protected carefully.

Appointment Management

You need to be able to schedule and manage appointments and meetings efficiently for your manager and the team. While there are tools to help you oversee calendaring effectively for your team, as talked about in our blog regarding AI and the future of assistants, you still need to be able to think strategically. Think about what stakeholders need to be involved. Pick a time that caters to their individual needs and the goal of the meeting. Set up the meeting in a way that provides all relevant information upfront for the busy executives. These are things you need to consider to elevate your success.

Business Acumen

Having a deep understanding of how businesses operate and the ability to use that knowledge to make informed decisions is a trademark of an advanced administrative professional. An intimate knowledge of your company’s policies, procedures, finances, etc. as well as an awareness of how key leaders operate within these realms, will allow you to make wise decisions. You are able to provide valuable direction and make choices that help your executive team with strong business acumen.

Career Management/Professional Development

Take an active role in planning and managing your own career development, including setting goals, seeking out learning and development opportunities, and building a professional network. At Office Dynamics International, our dedicated courses for the ongoing education of administrative professionals are a prime solution. Seek out learning opportunities such as these as well as chances to network, whether it be through a conference or online via LinkedIn or another social media platform, such as a Facebook group for assistants.

Leadership

Inspiring and motivating others to achieve a common goal, as well as leading by example and making decisions that are in the best interests of the team or organization, will take you far. There are a few stereotypes that exist for administrative professionals, one of which is that this role doesn’t have much weight or influence. However,  nothing could be further from the truth! Assistants build relationships, flow information to the executive team, and manage hectic schedules, all of which carry the power to influence. This is why the 2024 Conference for Administrative Excellence was built around this theme. You carry the power to be a leader.

Manager Support

Proactively assisting your manager and taking on additional responsibilities to support their success required you to think ahead of the game. Don’t be reactive and scramble to pick up the pieces. Think ahead and anticipate what’s coming down the pipeline. You will make your life, and that of your executive, much smoother.

Managing Office Technology

Staying up to date on the latest technology and using it effectively to support the team is essential, especially with the rate at which AI is developing. A few years from now, things will likely look very different than they do today. Technology is going through constant updates. While you don’t have to be a tech expert, you should be able to understand how to navigate the tools you need to do your job well. This is why we encourage the concept of “digital exploration” in our course, Digital Efficiency for Administrative Excellence.

Meeting Preparation, Coordination, and Execution

As far as meetings go, your role requires more than just scheduling them. The preparation for, coordination, and successful execution of meetings and events is a key competency of an administrative professional. A meeting isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it task for you. It’s your responsibility to oversee the flow and to cater to the meeting’s needs as required. In the end, a positive meeting is a win for the entire team and you play a vital role in this.

Office Communication

Effectively communicating with colleagues, both in person and through various communication channels, has the power to make or break us. We should be master communicators, understanding the person we are addressing and tailoring accordingly. Because of the world we live in and the various settings our work can be done in (in-office, remote, or hybrid), the Star Achievement Series focuses on how to communicate well through multiple mediums.

Office Organization

Maintaining an organized and efficient office environment will severely impact your productivity. Not only that, but an organized office space will impact your team’s state of mind. Executives need answers quickly, which requires your office and your workspace to be kept organized so you can easily access resources. This also extends to your digital organization, making sure all files and folders stored on computers, cloud-based storage drives, and other electronic devices are tidied up and easily accessible.

Professional Behavior

You need to be able to manage your behavior well; with no exceptions. Despite your circumstances, behave in a professional manner at all times, including being respectful, ethical, and responsible in your interactions with others.

Professional Development

Continuously learning and improving your skills to stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices in the field will become your best friend. Our roles change constantly and it is likely that the executive assistant who is investing in ongoing training through courses, webinars, and other resources will outpace the one who is not.

Professional Image/Brand

Present yourself in a professional manner and build a personal brand that reflects your values, skills, and expertise. This may include things like maintaining a professional appearance, being active on professional social media platforms, and regularly updating your professional materials (e.g., resume, LinkedIn profile, etc.).

Problem-Solving

While it is good to be proactive, we also need to be able to identify and solve issues as they arise. The unexpected is bound to happen: leadership changes, companies restructure, and crises arise. Have a plan in place and the mindset to deal with these problems well when they present themselves.

Supporting Multiple Leaders

It’s common in the administrative profession for an executive assistant to be responsible for effectively managing their time and resources to support multiple leaders and teams. You need to understand how to manage different schedules, calendars, travel arrangements, and daily demands for each of your executives, being flexible to cater to their unique needs.

Task & Project Management

Project management is a common path administrative professionals take because of the task management, organization, and communication skills that are required within both roles. Effectively managing projects, including setting goals, creating plans, and meeting deadlines, are all part of project management. You may not be considered a project manager, but your role definitely entails the common responsibilities and abilities of one.

Teamwork

Being a good team player and collaborating with others to work effectively in a group are valuable traits. We live in a culture that so often wants to promote “self.” However, when we do that, we miss tapping into the power and influence of others’ unique strengths. Whether it’s among the executive team, different departments, or with other administrative professionals, being a person who promotes collaboration will ensure not only that others go far, but that you do as well. 

Time Management

Efficiently managing your time to ensure that you are able to complete all of your tasks and meet deadlines is an often talked about core competency. There are many ways in which you can strategize to improve your time management skills. It’s important that you find one that works for you. Know yourself; understand how to limit distractions and dedicate your time to get the most out of your day.

Virtual Meetings

The ability to effectively plan and facilitate virtual meetings, including the use of technology and tools to ensure that all attendees are able to participate fully and communicate, is necessary. I know you have probably seen this happen many times, but pay attention to how technical difficulties can disrupt the flow of a meeting. Your team’s time is limited, so it is up to you to be knowledgeable and set the meeting up for success.

Why are These Competencies Important for my Career?

The key competencies that I mentioned are important for your career as an administrative professional because they represent the skills and responsibilities that are essential for success in the modern workplace. By mastering these competencies, you can demonstrate your value as a team member and position yourself as a valuable asset to your organization.

For example, strong appointment management skills allow you to efficiently schedule and manage your manager’s calendar, ensuring that their time is used effectively and that they are able to focus on the tasks that are most important to the team. Manager support skills, on the other hand, involve proactively assisting your manager and taking on additional responsibilities to support their success. Demonstrating problem-solving skills can help you identify and solve issues as they arise, while professional development skills allow you to continuously improve and stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices in the field.

Overall, these competencies are essential for building a successful career as an administrative professional and positioning yourself as a valuable member of the team. By focusing on mastering these skills, you can set yourself up for long-term success in your career.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Here are some good questions to set yourself apart and build on the above:

  • What are my strengths and how can I use them to excel in my role as an administrative professional?
  • What areas do I feel I need to improve in and how can I go about doing so?
  • How can I better support my manager and the team as a whole?
  • How can I make sure that I am using my time and resources effectively to be the most efficient in my role?
  • How can I stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices in the field of administrative work?
  • How can I take on additional responsibilities and challenges to continue growing in my role?
  • How can I build positive relationships with my colleagues and effectively communicate with them?
  • How can I adapt to changing needs and expectations within my organization?
  • How can I maintain a positive attitude?

Being an administrative professional is no longer just about answering phone calls and scheduling appointments. Today’s assistants are expected to be advisors, problem solvers, and even leaders within their organizations. The key competencies, including manager support, appointment management, and professional development, are essential for success in this role. To take your career to the next level and become a valuable member of your company’s inner circle, it’s important to continuously improve your skills and stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices in the field. By focusing on these core competencies and utilizing them in practice, you can rise to the challenge of being a modern administrative professional and make a real impact in your organization.

Training for Executive and Administrative Assistants

Star-Performing Administrative Competencies Assessment

Elevate your administrative team's performance to new heights with our Star-Performing Administrative Competencies Assessment. This comprehensive evaluation tool is designed to help assistants, their executives, and the organization identify areas for growth and development. By understanding and improving upon key competencies, your administrative staff will be better equipped to drive success for the entire organization. Download now and start making a difference!

P.S. Take your career to the next level and become an invaluable asset to your organization by mastering the essential competencies of an administrative professional through our Star Achievement Series® Program. The 19 key competencies covered in this program are not only essential for your current role, but they are also invaluable skills that will carry you through your entire career. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to enhance your professional development and secure your future success.

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