OfficeTeam Whie Paper \'Het Cliché Voorbij\'


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A white paper with results from a Benelux wide survey on the clichés that exist around management assistants.

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OfficeTeam Whie Paper \'Het Cliché Voorbij\'

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  2. 2. The traditional clichéof management assistantsMost managers and management assistants believe that the traditional clichéd image of ‘the secretary’ has beenbroken. Gone are the days of nothing more challenging than filing, writing letters or typing emails for theirbosses, booking meetings, taking dictation, managing the boss’s agenda, answering the phone and making andbringing coffee.Today’s management assistants have moved well beyond that cliché. The tasks they perform require a high levelof sophisticated skills, education and an ability to manage complex projects. Many are effectively frontlineambassadors for their bosses. The traditional role of the ‘secretary’ has been upgraded to the most senior level,occupied by professionally skilled and highly educated assistants, typically perceived and valued as key influencers inmany organisations.2 OfficeTeam Beyond the cliché 3
  3. 3. The latest technology can seem daunting to many managers or directors - but not to management assistants. InThe complex role of today’s fact, they are often early adaptors of technology (their secret weapon for being organised and super-efficient), and frequently lend a hand to train managers or other members of staff. Moreover, they often serve as the first portmanagement assistants of call for technical issues encountered by managers and co-workers. Meanwhile, they are required – in order to carry out their own individual responsibilities - to conquer more than just spreadsheets or memos. Many of today’s management assistants set up or run virtual meetings, organise or edit corporate newsletters and create presentations for executives to deliver to staff or customers.Today’s management assistants carry out very different roles than their predecessors, and their tasks and responsibilitiescontinue to evolve. In recent years, management assistants have become the knowledge transfer processors within When hiring new staff, management assistants often take the lead or coordinate the prcess with HR and linemany organisations, supporting or leading activities such as: managers. Modern management assistants are also empowered to serve as spending watchdogs, having developed skills to detect (and remedy) costly inefficiencies, streamline procedures and negotiate with vendors.• Project management Knowledge transfer processor• Event planning Event• Technology implementations or upgrades Planning• Hiring and orientating Project Hiring &• Cost and business process efficiency drives Management training Our surveys show how management assistants now work more closely with senior managers and executives than they might have in the past. A typical example is the management assistant as project manager, charged with co-ordinating cross-functional teams or external suppliers, and ensuring important milestones and deadlines are met, all within budget. Another task the modern Workflow Cost & As management assistant one management assistant takes on frequently is that of workflow Control Business Process should especially be multi-functional. coordinator, calling on their ‘mission control’ style ability to ensure New Coordination You must feel at ease in all your roles. all project staff have the support and resources required to do Technology Adaptation That includes responding proactively. their jobs. Sometimes you simply have to be alert and respond quickly to prevent Management assistants continue to regularly organise corporate events, ranging from charity activities and staff the company, for example, from parties to attendance at trade exhibitions or client hospitality. losing a customer. CATHERINE4 OfficeTeam Beyond the cliché 5
  4. 4. A strong sense of service is a quality that has never gone out of fashion amongst both traditional and modern Today’s management assistants management assistants and their bosses. Three out of four managers indicated that today’s best management assistants understand the importance of service (whether they deal primarily with senior management, staff, have broken the cliché customers, suppliers or visitors), and 70 per cent of the management assistants agreed. A professional appearance is also a timeless characteristic. Both managers (85 per cent) and management assistants (81 per cent) said that management assistants appear well-groomed.Based on the findings of the “Going beyond the cliché” survey by OfficeTeam, the traditional image is no longer Perception of management assistants’ characteristicsvalid. Early this year, OfficeTeam surveyed the perceptions of management assistants and their bosses with regard tothe profession. More than 600 management assistants and managers in the Netherlands and Belgium shared their Organisedthoughts and opinions with us. Reliable DrivenAbove all professional Friendly DynamicThe results of the survey clearly indicate that the job of management assistant is regarded as highly professional. IntelligentBoth the assistants (97 per cent) and managers (96 per cent) stated that management assistants help their bosses Service mindedperform better. Furthermore, the profession is highly valued by both its members and their managers. Both groups Protective Agreeresoundingly declared that being a management assistant is a good career choice. This opinion was expressed by 90 Silent Management assistantsper cent of the surveyed managers, while 85 per cent of the management assistants agreed. However, at least two Dominant Taciturn Managersout of three management assistants felt that they were undervalued in their company, although only half of managersagreed, saying instead that management assistants are key colleagues who are highly respected and valued. 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%Characteristics which help the modern management assistant perform betterOne of the questions in the survey was, “Which of the following characteristics do you think fits with the image An upgraded imageof management assistants?” The results showed that today’s management assistants are in no way subserviently One conclusion clearly emerges from the survey: the image of management assistants needs to be upgraded,humble. They don’t appear to be unreasonably defensive – but nor are they reticent: they’re prepared to say what they according to the vast majority of assistants (95%) and their managers (81%). All the topics raised in survey responsesthink. Those described as well-organised, reliable, driven and friendly demonstrate the characteristics of real value in and in conversations indicate that management assistants do a fantastic job, and are highly professional andtoday’s business world. appreciated by their managers. This white paper will be the leading example of what the image of today’s management assistant should be.6 OfficeTeam Beyond the cliché 7
  5. 5. How today’s management assistantsgo beyond the clichéModern management assistants all have one thing in common: every one of them is a truly, enthusiastic professional,and they are especially proud of who they are, what they do and what they do to go beyond the cliché. “Ethics first”is the motto of this group of professionals.When you look behind the façade of the clichéd image, you discover true professionals who are multi-tasking, usingtheir exceptional communication and organisational skills to proactively help their bosses manage teams, securebusiness, drive efficiencies and achieve operational and strategic objectives, overcoming obstacles with enviablediplomacy and consummate ease.The revealing portraits in this white paper present a diverse and highly personal picture of the many non-stereotypicalindividuals who are true to themselves as well as professionally active as management assistants. Through their ownquotes, they show society how they manage to go beyond the cliché, helping their bosses to perform better and growtheir businesses, while helping to create happy productive workplaces for everyone else. Two know more than one. For this reason alone it is important to think problems through with your boss. I am furthermore a particularly optimistic and happy person who principally says “yes” to requests for help; even when I am unsure whether I will succeed. Behind the scenes I will eventually solve them. ANNE8 OfficeTeam Beyond the cliché 9
  6. 6. I dig into things, feel Twenty years ago I consciously chose this profession. I have seen how the function involved in what I do, changed over time. In those days I often had to wait for my boss to give me work. and like to make a Now it is expected of me to think along with my manager, put together my own positive contribution to plans and anticipate what is likely to happen. my boss’s efforts. I can CHRISTEL work well on my own, and I often have good insight or a good feeling for what’s going on in a department. After all, I also work for the rest of the company. EVELINE I keep an eye on whether everything runs smoothly and if everyone is still satisfied. To me that is part of the job of a management assistant. I love a healthy dose of humor at work, and I am determined to get things done. LUT10 OfficeTeam Beyond the cliché 11
  7. 7. How to motivate management assistants to go beyond the cliché Your top-quartile management assistants will need little or no external motivation to outperform – but with Growth opportunities encouragement and tactics, everyone can see the reason and means to punch above their weight: ✓ Invest in technology and tools that allow office staff to do their jobs better. Encourage them to explore options Praise for new software and show them how to learn new technologies, or increase their skills and knowledge in other ways. ✓ Regularly thank employees verbally for jobs well done (if thanking via email, copy in relevant senior colleagues). ✓ Empower your assistants to make decisions and have more control over their work. Encourage them to take ✓ Ask a senior executive to provide verbal recognition for the work of office support staff at a company forum on a tough problem or a new challenge outside their usual job description, and provide necessary support attended by all employees. (eg time away from routine duties, or the guiding hand of a mentoring executive or senior manager). Help more experienced administrative staff build management skills by asking them to coach entry-level office support staff. ✓ Share messages sent by customers or other stakeholders praising your assistant’s work. ✓ Engage assistants when addressing a difficult organisational issue or developing a new business opportunity; empower them to make decisions and to have control over their work; if this leads to implementation of a Reward solution or suggestion throughout the organisation, give your assistant(s) due and visible credit. ✓ Encourage assistants to become active in relevant professional membership organisations, offer them subscriptions to relevant industry or trade publications or encourage them to attend professional conferences or networking seminars (on a mission to come back with ideas or useful contacts). ✓ Take the opportunity during annual performance appraisals to give and receive feedback from office support staff about their work, and provide a roadmap for career growth and performance improvement. Consider more regular informal get-togethers to keep in touch with key individuals, and learn about what motivates them to grow professionally and remain beyond the cliché of the traditional management assistant.12 OfficeTeam Beyond the cliché 13
  8. 8. Delivering the best About OfficeTeam possible service; both to our clients and OfficeTeam is a leading provider of specialised administrative personnel on a temporary basis, with over 320 to my boss: this, for offices worldwide. As a division of Robert Half International, it has the specialised expertise, leadership standing and me, is the core of my network to attract the most highly skilled professionals and offer them the most rewarding assignments. In Belgium job. This also means I and the Netherlands OfficeTeam has offices in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Charleroi, Ghent, Groot-Bijgaarden, must think before my Hasselt, Liège, Roeselare, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Wavre & Zaventem. boss asks. Foresight is therefore indispensable in my work. MARIE-ANNE V.U.: Robert Half BVBA/SPRL - Alfons Gossetlaan 28A b7 - 1702 Groot-Bijgaarden BTW/TVA BE 0440.965.760 RPR/RPM Brussels VG.453/BUO W.INT.030 W.RS.030 Erkenning van het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest / Agrément de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale: B-AA04.03714 OfficeTeam Beyond the cliché 15
  9. 9. More than 320 offices worldwideAustralia | Belgium | Canada | Czech Republic | France | Germany | Netherlands | Switzerland | UK | USABELGIUM THE NETHERLANDSANTWERP HASSELT AMSTERDAMT: 03-257 26 26 T: 011-29 30 10 T +31 (0)20 346 34 amsterdam@officeteam-interim.nlBRUSSELS LIEGE ROTTERDAMT: 02-649 40 40 T: 04-225 52 22 T +31 (0)10 206 50 rotterdam@officeteam-interim.nlCHARLEROI ROESELARE UTRECHTT: 071-30 55 50 T: 051-25 93 33 T +31 (0)30 284 41 utrecht@officeteam-interim.nlGHENT WAVRET: 09-233 39 99 T: 010-48 29 wavre@officeteam.beGROOT-BIJGAARDEN ZAVENTEMT: 02-481 95 95 T: 02-416 83 zaventem@officeteam.bewww.officeteam.bewww.officeteam-interim.nlA Robert Half Company © 2011 Robert HalfAn Equal Opportunity Employer