On the Job Tips for New Admins
Based on lessons I picked up over the years either from other administrative assistants, my bosses or from trial and error. Here are my top six things I would recommend you do well as a new administrative assistant:
1. Write it downWhen your boss asks you to do something, write it down, send yourself an e-mail reminder or put it on a sticky note, but if you don’t write it down it will get lost and probably not get done. You may think you have a good memory and why bother, but there will be so many little things come across your desk that it is easy to forget and writing it down is a good habit to get into. It also eases your boss’s mind when they see you write it down, it gives them confidence it will be taken care of.
2. Bring Forward System or Using Tasks in Outlook
Have a system to follow up on items your boss has asked you to do or things you know you need to do. This can be as simple as having hanging file folders marked from January to December and then you just put items in the appropriate month that you need to bring forward for your boss. I put a sticky note on it, or write, the day I will need it, i.e. bf Dec. 15. I love this system and at the end of each day I go through my folder and pull out what I need for the next day. I also use Tasks in Outlook to follow up on electronic items. If I send someone an e-mail asking for something, I drag and drop the the e-mail into my Tasks and set a reminder for when I want to follow up. It is easy and I never lose track of things.
When you are copied on an e-mail, read the whole message, don’t just skim it. There could be a message for you. i.e. My boss will send an email with a cc to me and on the last line or buried in the message he will write something like “I have copied Patricia to set up a teleconference at a mutually convenient time.” So it is important to read the whole message.
Always ask yourself why you were copied on an e-mail. Is there an action that you need to do? Is it for your information or something to put in your tasks to do later? My boss will sometimes cc me to keep me in the loop of what might be coming up. I read it and either put it in my tasks to follow up on it or take the appropriate action. I have daily meetings with my boss so sometimes I print the e-mails that I have questions on and put it in a folder and then we go through each item and he lets me know what, if anything, I need to do. If he is traveling for business, I send it by e-mail, but it has been my experience that I will get better results with a face-to-face meeting. He can ignore e-mails, but it is hard to ignore me :)
If you are sent an email with a request to do something either asap or later, did you do it or have you written it down to do it later? Do you track your e-mails by either putting them in folders, or in your tasks? If your boss has to continually go back and ask did you do this or that, then they may as well have done it themselves in the first place.
If you have been asked to do something and don’t fully understand what is expected of you, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes e-mail is not the best way to communicate and it needs to be followed up by a phone call or face-to-face short meeting.