Got Skills?

Feb 17, 2011 | Leadership

Perhaps the better question is: Got 21st Century “Office of the Future” skills?

Decisions regarding hiring and firing are related to skills. Executives award special projects to those with the skills to accomplish the job. Promotions, pay increases, and bonuses are all connected to skills. So what kind of skills do you have? Are they current for the 21st century or current for 1985? Do you even know what skills you need to be an innovative, 21st-century admin?

I have a recurring conversation with colleagues and executives I work with. That conversation centers on skills: the skills of the staff members they interact with both inside and outside of their companies. In short, your skills matter.

There are a lot of ways you can define “skills” and a lot of categories you can assign. But the best broad definition I found is this:

Skill: the capacity to do something well; technique, ability. Skills are usually acquired or learned, as opposed to abilities, which are often thought of as innate.

The key element: skills are learned. This implies that you have to actively engage in the process and proactively seek the training or education required to add a skill to your repertoire. You don’t magically wake up with a new skill one morning. You have to put the time in to L-E-A-R-N and then P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E in order to M-A-S-T-E-R a new skill.

In a special report published by OfficeTeam, “Office of the Future: 2020,” it states:

“To remain marketable in the office of the future and enhance their value to businesses, workers will have to make education a lifelong priority continually upgrading their skills.”

So what are the key skill areas you need to pay attention to? The OfficeTeam report identifies six skill areas that will be instrumental to your future success as an administrative professional. Those six areas form the acronym “ACTION”:

  • Analysis: Analyzing information and exercising good judgment
  • Collaboration: Establishing rapport and facilitating team-building
  • Technical aptitude: Selecting the best technical tools and using them efficiently
  • Intuition: Identifying and adapting to the needs and work styles of others
  • Ongoing education: Engaging in continuous learning
  • Negotiation: Participating in business discussions that produce positive results

Let me give you some ideas on classes or training you should seek if you want to develop your skills to be an innovative 21st-century admin:

• Efficiency and productivity courses
• Business management and supervisory courses
• Communication: verbal, written, interpersonal
• Emotional intelligence
• Mobile computing technology
• Social media and social networking
• Website development and basic HTML
• Cloud computing tools
• Basic audio and video editing
• Negotiation
• Delegation
• Budgeting and understanding company financials
• Project Management
• Pursue a certification
• Work styles and personality type workshops
• Discovering your strengths
• SharePoint
• Microsoft Office 2010: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, OneNote
• Photoshop
• Adobe Illustrator
• Marketing
• HR and Legal Issues

If you’re thinking that it sounds like you’d be able to run the entire business with these skills, then you’re beginning to grasp the general idea. As the office becomes more technologically connected, teams are becoming more physically disconnected with virtual employees and satellite offices potentially all around the world. Admins are the air traffic controllers guiding incoming and outgoing executives and assignments to maintain order, efficiency, and productivity for our teams. As admins we have to start thinking of ourselves as extensions of our executive(s) in order to more effectively support them in the 21st century office. Jobs and job titles have moved away from the traditional “clerical” focus, so it’s time our mindset about our roles did, too. Instead, we need to become the executive’s “strategic business partner” with business administration skills if we want to truly add value and provide the support they require. Doing this requires taking the personal initiative to learn these core business administration skills, which we may not have considered before.

Don’t wait for your executive to tap you on the shoulder and ask you to learn a new skill. Be proactive. Show resourcefulness and initiative. Learn the skill before you need to use it. Unlimited opportunities await the administrative professional with the skills to excel in the 21st-century office. Are you ready?

© 2014 Julie Perrine International, LLC


Want to use this article in your newsletter, ezine or website? You can — just as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

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

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