The Association of Administrative Assistants defines an Administrative Assistant as an "assistant to management" who undertakes the day-to-day running of a department or unit. The title may also apply to someone with a complex technical skill and to someone who may be involved in some aspect of the business such as computer programming, accounting, course organization, personnel administration, word processing, training, or marketing.
The Administrative Assistant works under minimal supervision, with the responsibilities defined in terms of general company, department, and program objectives.
Qualifications and Responsibilities of an Administrative Assistant
The qualifications and responsibilities for the position of Administrative Assistant are:
An Administrative Assistant generally requires a post-secondary certificate or diploma and five years business experience, or Grade 12 plus 10 years business experience.
A degree in Business Administration or Commerce is an asset.
Ability to handle a wide variety of situations and problems.
Ability to interpret procedures and policies of the organization.
Ability to communicate effectively.
Ability to deal effectively with people.
A knowledge of administrative principles and their application.
Supervises and hires support staff.
Develops overall performance standards.
Schedules and plans work flow procedures and staff utilization.
Coordinates activities within a department, liaises with other departments and contacts external clients.
Anticipates needs of a department; sets up and revises systems as necessary.
Processes correspondence, compiles information, and writes reports.
Initiates and interprets policy.
Acts as liaison between management and staff.
Answers inquiries from staff.
Prepares departmental budgets and monitors expenditures.
Serves on committees.
Has a professional manner and a high energy level; exhibits a positive attitude.
Is a competent administrator, possesses leadership qualities, and has excellent organizational and communication skills.
Demonstrates good judgement (common sense).
Manages stress well.
Continually upgrades her/his professional development.
Accepts new ideas and challenges and is a highly motivated, creative thinker who changes with the times and technology.
The Role of the Administrative Assistant
Complexity of duties varies with the scope of the Administrative Assistant's position. Many large companies have job classifications for several levels of Administrative Assistant, with some clearly being management positions.
The functions of the Administrative Assistant vary greatly between organizations. The duties range from the routine to special assignments designed to prepare the Administrative Assistant for advanced managerial responsibilities.
The following "position" description cannot clearly define all duties. However, the purpose of such a position is sufficiently clear that a framework can be set out within which the Administrative Assistant and the Executive/Manager can establish guidelines by which the Administrative Assistant can assist the Executive/Manager within the company's policies.
For example, large companies usually have defined job descriptions, whereas smaller companies may develop positions which adjust to meet the demands and trends within the company.
The Administrative Assistant is an Asset to the Executive/Manager by:
Assisting management's policy-making, planning, and coordination of activities.
Increasing the Manager's flexibility.
Assisting in the flow of communications within the organization. Being responsible for the day-to-day details, thus increasing the time the Manager has available to deal with broader management responsibilities.
Being a liaison person for the Manager of the company.
Handling special projects and "trouble shooting".
Bringing confidentiality, special knowledge, diplomacy, and tact to the position.
Interpreting company policies and procedures.
Being a candidate for future promotion - a tremendous asset to the company in terms of time and money.