What sets you apart as an administrative professional?
Is it the way you conduct yourself in social settings? In business settings? Is it the type of speech you use or the positive attitude you display? Is it the way you treat your co-workers and the executives you support?
I think we’ve all worked with someone during our careers who simply stands out. They are the consummate professional in almost every setting with almost all personality types. They always know the right thing to say and the right way to say it. It is impossible to imagine someone not wanting to work with them because they display so many impressive and polished traits. And then we’ve all worked with the opposites.
What three things influence whether or not a person is perceived as professional? According to Erin O’Hara Meyer, PHR, founder of Administrative Excellence, Inc., and author of Administrative Excellence, those three things are IMAGE, CONDUCT, and EXPERTISE.
We have 1/20th of one second to make a first impression. With that first impression, the other individual makes an instant assessment about our knowledge, skills, and abilities. Image encompasses not only how we dress, but how we speak and present our work product each day. Do I capitalize words and punctuate my e-mail messages – even when I’m in a hurry? How do I answer the phone when it may be someone contacting my company for the first time – or the 20th time? Is my desk or office kept in a manner that indicates I’m a professional?
It’s easy to see how conduct is intertwined with overall image, too. Do I maintain the confidentiality that is required for the information I handle each day? Do I gossip or talk negatively about my co-workers, my boss or external partners with which my company does business? All of these things contribute to our Perceived Professional Quotient whether we intend them to or not.
No matter how polished our professional image, though, eventually our actual work product must live up to the image we are projecting. This is where our expertise is critical. What am I doing on a daily basis to further my education? Belonging to a professional association such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) is a great place to start, but it’s only the beginning. Taking time each day to build our professional expertise requires planning and effort. But it must be done to continue our professional development. Am I reading books on soft skills or technical areas where I want to improve? Do I utilize some of the terrific online resources for professional development like www.StarDynamics.com and www.productivitypro.com or even the www.iaap-hq.org websites? Have I asked my employer what training classes are available to me?
Let’s continue to enhance our professional image and conduct, and work each day to increase our professional expertise. Then our Perceived Professional Quotient will go beyond mere form into the substance of true administrative excellence. And excellence always sets an administrative professional apart!
To your administrative success!
Julie Perrine CPS/CAP, MBTI Certified