Supporting Your Support Staff So They Can Support You

In praise of administrative staff. Share this with your boss

Robert Bacal

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Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

They usually do the most repetitive job tasks. They answer the phones, keep things organized, keep track of finances, make sure you have what you need when you need it, and are often the first contact a customer or member of the public has with your organization. They are also often the lowest paid people in your organization and often not completely involved or included in many events that happen in your office. Oddly, they may be the most knowledgable people in your organization about what really goes on, and, because of their contact with clients, can have great insight into their needs, wants and expectations.

Sadly, support and administrative staff are often under-used and under included, and that creates several problems. Staff turnover can be higher than for other positions because the work may not be made satisfying enough, or interesting enough, since it is often repetitive. Support/administrative staff tend to have less formal authority and can become frustrated and less effective. But as important as the costs associated with turnover, administrative staff who are marginalized in the workplace cannot contribute their unique knowledge to the health of the organization. And then everyone loses. Who best, for example to be involved in improving an organization than the people who are involved in many of the processes and functions in an intimate way? Who best to suggest ways to improve service than those people directly providing that service?

We are going to suggest a number of ways to support your support staff so that they can function as full, integral and critical parts of your organization and team.

Job task rotation is one way of removing the tedium of repetitive administrative job tasks, while providing staff with the opportunity to learn new skills and exercise new responsibilities. This may be particularly important for people who answer the phone in high call volume offices, and have little sustained contact with people who call. Job task rotation can help avoid burnout from the high volume and allow recharging of batteries.

Providing personal and professional development opportunities is very important. These…

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Robert Bacal

Author, Trainer, customer service, management, performance appraisal,leadership,difficult customers