Ed. note: After reading part one of this list, you might feel like you can't measure up. But this second part starts out with great encouragement—Be resilient! This article continues with great advice to help you be all you can be in the church office.
Administrative Assistants: 25 Things your boss wants you to know, part two
13. Be resilient about foul-ups. Mistakes and misunderstandings are normal. Never make them more important than they are. Take control of your temperament. No one can ruin your day unless you allow it. Whether you or someone else is responsible for a glitch, learn to shake it off. Nothing good ever happens to those who keep moaning about the past. Surprise and delight your boss and others by handling things right when things go wrong.
14. Look ahead. Be prepared. Anticipate upcoming projects, both yours and the boss’. Have available the resources, skills, or personnel needed to get the job done. Use calendaring and scheduling programs to keep you on track. Inform others early on when you will need their input to complete a project. Making your personal deadline for the task a little before the real deadline allows you the luxury of having time to polish the project and make changes if you wish.
15. Offer solutions, not problems. In dozens of ways bosses express the idea, “Don’t bring me problems, bring me options.” When you face a situation that must be brought to the attention of your executive, be prepared with some possible solutions. Research the situation and propose three ways to deal with it. Do your homework. Have the facts and figures down cold. When considering purchases, resist any tendency to base solutions on cost alone. Realize while it is smart to be thrifty, it is dumb to be cheap. Present your options in an objective, businesslike way. Keep emotions under control. Be assured that even if the boss doesn’t choose one of your options, you’ve established yourself as a problem solver.
16. When in doubt, ask. Even careful listeners sometimes are unsure about instructions. Never hesitate to ask others to clarify themselves. Take notes. You may have a great memory, but get it on paper. If what you’re hearing doesn’t sound just right, make sure what you are hearing is really what they are saying. Making assumptions is always risky. Usually a simple question will clear up a situation before it gets sticky. Asking saves time, dollars, efforts, and tempers.
17. Think it through before you say it. How will the answer you give a phone caller be perceived by that person? Consider expressions you use regularly. Do they reflect positively on you, the church, and your executive? Never allow yourself to be pressured into snap decisions. A helpful expression in anyone’s vocabulary is, “Let me think about that and get back to you.” Then, be sure you do.
Even “no” can be said in a positive way. State first what you can do: “I’ll be happy to run those copies for you.“ Then indicate what you can’t do: “however I’ll not be able to type up the originals today.” Add any provisions you want to make: “If someone else can make the originals you can have the copies today. Or if you’d rather wait until the newsletter goes out Wednesday, I can do the job then. Whatever is best for you.” Don’t waste time on negative conversations. Think first; then speak.
18. Understand the boss’ idiosyncrasies. What makes your boss smile? What makes your boss frown? Does he prefer to get information by email, a note, or verbally? When you care about small things important to your executive, you enhance your own professionalism. Sometimes your minister will tell you personal preferences. More often you will find out by simply observing.
19. Accept criticism objectively. Resolve never to take criticism as a personal attack. Learn what you can from it, resist trying to justify your actions, and always consider the source. Take criticism for what it is worth. Sometimes it’s worth a lot; sometimes it is not.
20. Protect the church’s reputation and privacy. Avoid the frivolous discussion of church business and people. Be able to sidestep questions gracefully. You need not lie; you simply do not owe an answer to everyone who asks an inappropriate question. Treat privileged information with respect. If you make it your practice never to discuss office happenings with family and friends you will never have to remember what is open for discussion and what is not. Everyone admires, and trusts, the person who shuns gossip in all forms.
21. Maintain your integrity. There is no substitute for character. Your morals, ethics, and personal standards make you the person you are. As you serve in your office you are in a unique position to make a difference in the lives of others. Be aware of your witness. Exercise personal discipline in your life. A clear conscience never costs as much as it is worth.
22. Be interested in the big picture. Learn as much as you can about the church. Get to know people and call them by name. Know who the decision makers are and what issues are of primary concern. Study denominational structure and po
lity. Be aware of your boss’ ministry goals and discover how you can help those goals be reached. Read what the boss reads. It will give you a better background for your work than a college degree.
23. Get along with people. Avoid squabbles with coworkers and members by giving others the benefit of the doubt. The boss
is not interested in who is “right” in these battles. Even if you are right, you will look bad for getting involved. Never assume others are operating from your point of view. Different perspectives, when expressed objectively, are constructive. Effective office teams often include a mix of personality types: a planner, a detail person, a risk taker, a traditionalist. If you do disagree, do it agreeably. Stay calm.
24. Nurture your spiritual life. It is a paradox but sometimes working at the church can actually be detrimental to your faith. A daily quiet time is essential. Caught up in the business, and the busyness, of the church you may find it difficult to put work aside and to reserve time for worship. Church members, even the minister, may contribute to the problem. Let others know how important your worship time is and work out appropriate solutions. Take responsibility for your own spiritual renewal.
25. Have confidence in yourself. You are already doing a far better job than you realize. You have what it tak
es to continue to succeed. Periodically evaluate your working style. Are you punctual? well prepared? organized? well groomed? appropriately dressed? How does the office look?
When you project quality in all you do, you gain an attractive confidence that allows you to meet every challenge. Value your considerable contribution to ministry. Whether anyone tells you or not, you are appreciated!
To read Part ONE of this article, CLICK HERE