If the answer is yes, read on.
The secret to achieving these goals is to provide solid and professional development opportunities for your administrative staff, one of the most powerful and untapped secret weapons in your company. Here are four ways to invest in your administrative staff to help achieve company goals:
1. Invest in Training. Invest in supplemental in-house classes and workshops in both soft skills (communication) and hard skills (technology).
2. Support Event Attendance. Support and fund the administrative staff to attend at least one professional meeting or conference per year. After their participation, ask for a short presentation to the staff about the conference and what was learned.
3. Promote Networking. Provide regular opportunities for networking and the sharing of information among the administrative staff. Supply the space and the food.
4. Value Their Opinion. The most powerful question you can ask a member of your admin staff is: “What do you think?” Then listen.
In most companies, the administrative staff is a traditionally under-trained and under-served group of extremely bright and resourceful women (the profession is 95% female). They have succeeded in their roles in spite of the lack of support and training rather than because of it. This is true coast to coast, in companies large and small.
As a trainer of assistants, I hear regularly from staffers whose companies have never offered any training for the administrative staff. Managers will argue that they cannot quantify the return on investment (ROI). I argue that these staffers are the backbone of your company and that supporting them to develop their skills is very smart business.
The benefits of providing professional development opportunities for the admin team go far beyond the actual knowledge that the staff gains. Your staff will feel a sense of ownership in your company and a feeling of loyalty since you are demonstrating your belief in their talents and respect for their value. This feeling of respect is the antithesis to feeling like a number and that you are “a dime a dozen.” On top of all that, the most important benefit of providing training is self-confidence and self-esteem, which are priceless.
While compensation has always been an excellent incentive for employee retention, the number one motivator for the administrative staff costs nothing. It is respect. If you doubt this, just ask them and give them license to be candid without repercussion. Training is a strong demonstration of respect.
Job satisfaction for your admin team has everything to do with feeling valued and respected for their role in the company. Saying “please” and “thank you” goes a very long way (cost: $0). Adopting a zero-tolerance policy on bullying goes even further (cost: $0). The ROI of publishing this policy on your company’s website will come back exponentially, especially if you back it up with action.
When you support these strategies, keep in mind that you will be saving even more money by not having to replace staff who quit or having to pick up the slack for staffers who are out on medical leave from stress-related illnesses caused by bullying.
The most profoundly meaningful investment you can make in your staff, and in anyone for that matter, is to believe in them enough, trust them enough and support them to learn. Knowledge is power, and it is also a bottomless source of loyalty, commitment and profits.