Administrative Professionals Week is a time when we celebrate the contributions of Administrative Professionals in the church office. But no matter what the celebration, the wise assistant knows what counts in the long run is not so much what you view as professional behavior, but what the boss sees as admirable.
As you access your skills and abilities, consider these attributes that supervisors consistently list as relevant.
Some say the best “ability” is dependability. Even the most outstanding skills are diminished unless the assistant is consistently in the office on time and equipped to do the job. The boss wants to know his assistant is where she is supposed to be when she is supposed to be there, that she says what she means and means what she says, that she delivers what she promises.
A reasonable expectation is that the person at the desk can and will field well whatever the day brings. Competence is doing more and doing better than just enough to get by. A supervisor shared, “Our assistant learns something new about the job every day—a software technique, a time saver, a helpful website—and in staff meetings she often passes along tips the rest of us can use. I appreciate that.”
Along with ministers and other church staff, the assistant must be a person who can be trusted to keep the information she handles to herself. Every person has a right to know that the private information coming into the church office is not randomly “shared.” The importance of this essential attribute cannot be overstated. Many would say that loose talk causes more discord in churches than any other behavior. Everyone appreciates those who are above reproach when it comes to confidentiality.
- time sensibility
Understanding the value of money, you would never tell a salesperson, “I’ll take that new Mac; I don’t care what it costs.”But sadly, we often do the equivalent with our time. Never spend more time on a project than it is worth! Determine the smart amount of minutes the results are worth to you; then don’t allow yourself to spend more. Keeping priorities straight in the church office is never a one-way street. While it is fair for the boss to expect the assistant to respect what is important to others on the staff, in the most effective offices the pastor and staff likewise respect the assistant’s priorities.
“In this office, when we do well we all get the credit; when a mistake happens we all share the blame.” That was the often stated philosophy of one wise pastor. Still, his assistant noticed he appreciated when she took personal accountability for her errors. Mistakes happen. Owning up to them is the right thing to do.
- positive attitude
Having someone at your side who looks for and appreciates what is right with others adds to the effectiveness of any office. “I expect my assistant to give people the benefit of the doubt, to believe the best of them, to never gossip or bad-mouth, to never hold a grudge, and to look for the bright side in every situation.” You would have to believe a boss with these expectations is a positive person too.
- calmness under pressure
Schedules can fly out the church office door in a hurry. The assistant who can keep things in perspective and adapt to whatever crisis arises is a valuable asset to the staff. Not handled well, events quickly get out of hand; often the way an issue is handled is remembered far longer than the problem itself. Keeping one’s composure allows smarter decisions and sensible solutions.
While a Christian is a witness wherever she works, working in a church office is different from working at a secular job. The excellent assistant sets a high bar for personal standards: thoughtful conversation, nonjudgmental listening, honest actions, gracious deeds, steadfast support, enthusiastic cooperation, conscientious service, respectful interactions. When the assistant sees herself as a Christian professional, when she thinks, acts, and looks like such, others tend to see her as a Christian professional too.An observation: No two pastors are alike. The wise assistant observes, asks questions, and discovers personal likes and dislikes. The insightful supervisor does the same. The result is an extraordinary team.