I consider the administrative professional (a.k.a. the secretary) in my office my work mom. She always knows all the right things to say, gives me great advice about both work and home life, and is someone I can just chat with when the day is feeling long or I’m struggling to get through a project. She’s also someone who I feel comfortable venting some of my frustrations to (which we all need sometimes). She happened to be really great friends with my mentor that retired, so the three amigos turned into this lovely duo. No complaints since I got to keep at least one great person around!
Anyway, this may be a shock to you, but secretaries are often the glue that holds an organization together. These men and women (yes, they can be either gender) do it all. From keeping their supervisor’s crazy schedules, writing memos, ordering office supplies, and answering those annoying phone calls you really don’t want to take, they rarely get to take a break. Instead, these amazing people are often taken advantage of and just downright treated with no respect. Let me warn you, don’t be the person who is awful to the secretary or only says thank you on Administrative Professionals Day (which is April 23, 2014 by the way). You’re only hurting yourself by doing that (and I mean that in more ways than just being known as the office jerk). Here are three great reasons to always be nice to those lovely people who do all the work we don’t want to!
- They’re the gatekeepers to almost everything. So, you need a new pack of post-its or want to have a meeting with your Director about something that might not be considered extremely important? Let’s hope you’ve been nice to the secretary. They’re often the people who handle the schedules and the supplies. They can easily put you in a good meeting spot (like that 10am opening tomorrow) or they could let you know that nothing’s available except for 4:45pm Friday afternoon. They could also remind you there won’t be any post-its for another month or they might be able to find a secret stash hiding in a drawer. The point is, if you have a good working relationship with them, they’re more likely to try and help you out and get you whatever it is that you need. And really be extra nice at all times especially for the supplies. No one likes running out of post-its!
- They probably know almost everyone. My favorite secretary literally knows everyone. She’s been with the agency for years, used to work in the commissioner’s office, and is highly competent so she’s usually sought after to help complete projects. This benefits me because she’s able to give me a run down on all the people that come in and out of the office, their work styles, and whom I should go to for what. Without her help, I probably would’ve never gotten any of my computer issues fixed and I definitely would have never gotten a parking pass! (Huge thanks to her for telling me who to talk to for that waiting list! I was previously walking from a not so nice area before the glory of my parking pass was bestowed upon me!)
- They hear everything. Word travels fast around my office about anything and everything. You know who’s usually the first to know? The secretary. So, if you stay on their good side you might be able to learn a little bit of inside information that will help you. While they won’t (or at least shouldn’t) be telling you anything confidential, you might be surprised how a little bit of well-placed knowledge can give you a step up over the competition.
Now, you’re probably saying, “How exactly do I get the secretary to be my friend.” It’s really simple. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t treat him or her like they’re your servants, expecting them to do everything for you. Instead, say hello every day. Start a conversation. When you go for your daily coffee, ask if they’d like a cup too (or if you’re me, you buy her that new oatmeal you started eating because she thinks it smells so delicious). Treat them with respect like any other colleague. After all, they’re just another employee and deserve the same politeness you’d show anyone else.
Now it’s your turn! How do you show your administrative professional you appreciate them?