Psychological Profiles of the Dream Team; Where does the assistant fit?
We sat down with Holly Regan, Managing Editor for Software Advice for an interview on her findings. Holly assisted on conducting research about the Psychological Profiles of the Dream Team. Holly had some insight to share with you on this interesting subject.
What are the strengths and inherent characteristics of someone best suited for an executive or administrative assistant role?
Recently, my company, Software Advice, decided to figure out what drives some of our highest-performing employees. We identified several distinct personality types, one of which is well-suited for executive and administrative assistant roles: The Giver.
Givers make great administrative employees because of several key strengths and characteristics. They are very loyal, and focus on making their current job the best it can be rather than looking for the next best thing. They are inherently motivated to go above and beyond, and always but forth their best effort. They are also eager to please and make great team members, putting the needs of the business and their colleagues ahead of their own. And they always follow the rules: they follow company regulations to the letter, and are disappointed in themselves and in others who fail to do so.
What are the challenges in the characteristics of an administrative assistant?
Some of the things that make these people great can also come with challenges. For example, Givers are so focused on pleasing others that they might find confrontation extremely difficult–even when it’s necessary. This can turn into passive-aggression on the part of the Giver, or can lead to valid concerns and complaints going unaddressed. Administrative assistants with this personality type can also suffer from tunnel vision: they have very high expectations of themselves and their work, and don’t require much reward for their efforts, but others on their team may feel like they’re being held to too high a standard. Finally, Givers may work so hard that they burn out. They tend to take on more than they can realistically achieve.
What should a hiring manager look for to identify a great administrative assistant?
Start interviews in a congenial and calm manner to make them feel at ease; unlike, say, an applicant for a sales position, these candidates may not be comfortable taking control of the interview. You can also identify a great administrative assistant by using behavioral interviewing techniques to uncover examples of them working hard to help their employer (such as coming in early or putting in extra hours to finish an important project). Asking about past conflicts can give you a sense of how the candidate would handle such issues in the position you’re interviewing them for: you want to hire someone who is capable of resolving potential conflicts. Finally, contact the candidate’s references to dig deeper into examples of them putting in hard work or helping others in the company.
Based on your research, what are some things employers can do to better manage administrative assistants?
Make sure that you provide constructive criticism, and balance negative feedback with positive comments whenever possible. Since Givers live to please, they also tend to be sensitive when someone feels that they aren’t doing their best. You should also try and look out for their needs, since they won’t be inclined to do so themselves–ensure that things like their salary and job satisfaction are where they should be, and they will be very appreciative in return. Finally, encourage Givers to speak up. They tend to keep their complaints to themselves, so ask them if they have any suggestions for how things could be better around the office. Do all these things, and you’ll have their loyalty.