Even the most competent, dedicated admin is out of the office from time to time. Whether you’re setting sail for a well-deserved vacation, attending an out-of-town conference to further your admin skills, or taking time off for an illness or family emergency, the fact remains: you’re not there, and someone else needs to know how to do your job.
The solution? Procedures! Well-documented procedures — everything from how to reboot the copier to how to invoice a client — can erase the guilt and stress you feel being away from the office, ensure that your off time is really your own, and prevent you from coming back to a complete mess on your desk!
Procedures are one of the greatest things you can do for yourself, your executive, and your co-workers, and they’re useful in just about any situation.
Yes, you need to take a vacation. Not only is it good for your physical and mental well being, taking a vacation can actually make you more productive when you return to work! In fact, according to one study, people who max out their vacation days are 6.5% more likely to get a promotion or a raise than those who leave 11 or more days on the table each year.
But preparing for that relaxing vacation can be anything but relaxing when you have to essentially “train” a co-worker to take your place and then spend your off time fielding calls from an increasingly anxious admin because “you forgot to tell me how to…”
There will always be some amount of work that goes into preparing your co-workers for your absence; however, when you have procedures in place, most of that work is already done. Plus, procedures can be used time and time again, no matter who fills in for you!
Creating a culture of office procedures (and encouraging your co-workers to do the same) will make it so much easier to bid a fond adieu and walk out the door with no worries.
“Mission Critical” Information
To illustrate this point, consider this scenario: You’ve been with your company for several years, and are proud to be the most senior administrative assistant there. The monthly budget reports are your favorite task, and since many admins have come and gone in your time, you are the only one who knows how to put those reports together. It’s almost a security blanket, this knowledge that you alone possess.
But on the day the budget reports are due, something comes up. An illness, a family emergency, a personal crisis. And you can’t get to work.
Your executive looks bad, because he’s accountable for the reports that aren’t getting done. Your co-workers look bad, because they don’t have the necessary procedures to fill in for you. But you look worst of all, simply because you didn’t share the information with the people who could have supported you.
We all want to be indispensable, and I hear time and time again from admins that they resist creating procedures because then they may be replaceable. To this, I always say — “Procedures cannot replace you.” If anything, they show your immense value to your team and your organization!”
Leaving mission critical information to chance is reckless. It benefits exactly no one, and makes everyone look bad. Don’t let yourself be known as the person who caused an important task to go undone simply because you were an information silo!
No one can plan for the unexpected. If your health suddenly faltered, due to a cold, the flu, or something worse, could your team take up for you? If you got a call this afternoon that a family member was suddenly injured or taken ill, could another admin immediately start performing your job duties?
Without documented procedures, the answer is “Probably not.” Which puts you in the position of having to deal with two crises at once: one personal, one professional.
The absolute last thing you want to be doing in a personal emergency is trying to talk your replacement through the process of travel planning, scheduling a meeting, or processing an expense report while you are doubled over in pain or waiting in the E.R. Which is exactly why you need a procedure for every task you perform — it saves you from trying to be two places at once!
Consistency in Your Work Product
Procedures help you streamline and systemize your work. When you put things in print (even if that “print” is handwritten), it forces your mind to think things through in a logical order. You’ll start to see where the inefficiencies lie, how to make certain tasks go more smoothly, and where natural “batching” can occur. You can improve your entire process — as you’re writing the procedure!
Procedures help you develop bulletproof systems for how things get done and eliminate the stress and worries you have about “forgetting something” when you try to work off of your own (fallible) memory.
Stress Relief for Your Entire Team (and Mine Too!)
Procedures make everyone breathe a bit easier because everyone knows what’s going on. This summer, my marketing director went on maternity leave, and I’m proud to report that everything functioned like clockwork, even with an integral member of the team missing.
I wasn’t too concerned, even before she left, because I knew she had procedures in place, just as I did. That reduced the stress for her, for me, and for both of our teams, and we continued to handle everything in her absence. That feeling of complete confidence in knowing things would run smoothly — even before she went out on leave — was worth more to me than I ever could have imagined!
No one can plan for everything, and everyone needs a day off sometimes. Procedures make that day off easier (and less stressful) for everyone involved!
© 2016 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.