Congratulations you have an assistant! I meet so many entrepreneurs and business leaders who are either struggling to find a great assistant or they just aren’t ready to bring one on yet. My message to them is you really don’t know what you are missing. Your business can make huge leaps by freeing up your time and putting some of the day-to-day and bigger projects into the hands of a capable assistant. I say capable because I feel that administrative professional’s day is a day about acknowledging someone who does a great job for your organization and deserves a little extra recognition. If you have an assistant in your office you don’t deem worthy enough to buy a card for on Administrative Professionals Day, perhaps you need a new assistant.
In my line of work, I have seen many executives make serious mistakes when it came to buying their assistants a little something to recognize Administrative Professionals Day and I would hate to see you do the same so here’s my advice on what not to get your assistant this year on Administrative Professionals Day.
Lunch that she has to schedule – A lunch out with the team is the typical way of showing appreciation but you completely nix any respect or appreciation when you ask your assistant to call the restaurant and make the reservation for everyone. Part of the gift would be you doing the legwork to make that lunch happen.
Jewelry – Can we say creepy? Yes, your assistant loves jewelry but save this gift for her sweetheart. There are too many movies about the assistant + executive love story that we don’t need to raise any eyebrows in the office about what “might be” between you and your staff. The funny thing is we sell jewelry but it has a specific theme that ties into one of our training programs so there is great meaning behind it. Also, if you are buying an item for a team of assistants it isn’t so creepy anymore.
Clothing – Your assistant is fashionable and always looks sharp, great gift then, right? WRONG! You may think you know your assistants’ style or color preference or even size but my advice is you don’t and you shouldn’t buy them clothes. Plus, the thought of one of the past executives buying me a blouse is just as creepy as the jewelry option.
A forced day off with no back up covering their desk – This one could easily be on my ‘do’ list with one twist. You must not tell your assistant what day they get to take off and you must also have a back-up plan in place for coverage so they aren’t coming back to a disaster that will take staying late and coming in early the next few days just to catch up. Part of the gift is the extra thought you put into this one.
An e-card – Lame. At least spring for a paper thank you card with a handwritten sentiment.
Trinkets that junk up the workspace – We consult with executives in corporate offices all year long and one of their complaints is about their assistants’ workspace. It has too many knick-knacks or they have a quilt hanging in their cubicle. Don’t contribute to this problem and add more junk to their workspace. You want this person to be nimble and able to find things quickly. If they have to push aside the Beany Baby™ collection to put their hands on that important report perhaps we should be having a different conversation.
Flowers – they die, it’s weird (feels just as romantic as jewelry and clothes and in some cases looks like one). Plus, it’s allergy season and you would hate for them to be allergic or someone who sits nearby to be bothered by them.
Trade spaces for the day – Yes, people do this! It just sounds like a horrible idea and a huge waste of your companies’ time to me. I honestly can’t think of how this would be a way of showing your assistant you appreciate and respect the work that they do for you by mocking them and pretending you can do their job while you mess things up for an entire day.
In all seriousness, it’s about respect. You put a lot of faith and trust in your assistant. My advice would be to show them you appreciate them by putting some thought into the gift you give them. Is the gift coming from you, the department/team, or the entire organization? This could affect the size or scale of gift you get your assistant.
A great assistant is always learning and has goals to continuously improve. Consider gifting your assistant a relevant book or audio.
People do choose to be assistants. Acknowledge this by offering to advance their training in their chosen profession. There are high-level training programs out there that can inspire and re-frame the mindset of your assistant regarding the work that they do.
For more ideas on what you should get your assistant see my full article, Administrative Professionals Day Gift List.