All administrative assistants are valuable to the ministry of the church. Some, their pastors say, have become indispensable. How have these outstanding assistants risen above the norm? And, how can you use value-added strategies to enhance your own professionalism?
• Learn something new every day.
Once basics are mastered it is easy to become complacent. Make it a priority to add to your work knowledge daily. Listen, read, ask questions, check websites, attend seminars, network.
• Promise a lot; deliver even more. Be so well qualified that you can confidently commit to getting the project done. Then, as often as possible, put a little frosting on the cake: do more than just what is necessary, get jobs done before the target date, keep costs less than budgeted.
• Give tasks appropriate effort. While quality is as important as quantity, realize that all tasks are not of equal value. Routine jobs need to be dispatched quickly. Look for and use shortcuts that don’t adversely affect your results. Special projects may demand a higher level of excellence. Sometimes it is more valuable to do fewer tasks and do each one better.
• Put your personal stamp on what you do. A ministry assistant recounted a story about a member who told her, “As soon as I saw last week’s bulletin and newsletter I knew you were on vacation. They were fine, of course, but just didn’t have that ‘Margie’ touch.” What a nice compliment. It affirmed to one assistant that people do notice her efforts.
• Establish rapport. Use regular meetings with your supervisor to demonstrate your management skills. Summarize projects in progress, review completed assignments, offer suggestions for upcoming events. Anticipate needs; be prepared. Take the initiative in managing your work. When faced with a problem, handle it or bring it to your supervisor along with a possible solution or two. Share information with others; show newcomers the ins and outs of daily routines, computer programs, and office machine quirks. Show by both word and action you are supportive of each team member. When someone needs help, be the one to lend a hand.
• Volunteer for more responsibility. After you are able to handle current responsibilities well, increase your contribution to the office by asking to take on other tasks. These might be ministries you envision or special jobs usually outsourced or handled by other busy staff members. Assistants have done research for ministers, organized pastors’ libraries, created various databases, started food pantries, and volunteered for many other “optional” ministries.
• Keep a personal work record. Documenting your work is an excellent way to chart your progress and to plan goals for future growth. One effective way to do this is with your computer’s calendar program. Note your accomplishments and contributions. List the location of any supporting documents or examples of your work. Track training events you attended; indicate how you use what you learned. Although the primary purpose of the record is for your own planning, you just may find occasion to review with your supervisor as well.