Secretaries should never stop evolving

Predominantly a female deemed occupation, the original “Secretary” evolved and advanced to a multi-tasking super human. Formerly referred to as a Typist or a Secretary, the secretarial and administrative profession is all but stagnant. We have even dedicated an entire day to celebrate “Secretaries Day”.

Traditionally Secretaries were seen as ‘note-takers’, ‘typists’, ‘doing the filing’ and ‘bringing the coffee.’ The job description of today’s secretary is more advanced. It includes day-to-day running of the office, boss’s schedules, managing of the events, making travel arrangements, meetings and various other administrative duties. They even go as far as assisting with online duties such as social media and marketing.

Their job titles have also changed over time. They are now referred to as Management Assistants, Personal Assistants or Executive Secretaries as well as Office Managers. The latest title is that of Administrative Professional.

However, with computers replacing typewriters, smart telephone systems and other technological changes, the question remains: “will Siri become everyone’s assistant?”

A lot of secretaries and assistants not only lost their jobs because managers and bosses could now handle their own calendars, travel arrangements etc. online, but also because they did not change with the times and continuously up skilled themselves. Bosses also took the ‘human’ behind the occupation for granted and by that it doesn’t refer to the coffee machine’s inability to bring bosses and visitors their coffee.

Times have changed and the majority of Administrative Professionals across the world have redefined their roles and responsibilities. Looking back in history, they have been doing so for centuries.

They developed their skills and shown their flexibility, dedication and commitment. They have managed to fester themselves as an integral part of the company. Extra duties like project management, organisation and scheduling, internal communications, research, customer service and public relations, planning of meetings and events, supervising staff and general office management are all added to their job description. They have also become ambassadors, the ‘faces’ of the company’s brand and image.

Yes, the secretaries of today are not like in the old days. They are now the ‘glue that holds everything in the office together’ or ‘the oil that keeps the office running smoothly.’ This is not to say that the individuals who are in this sector are out of the woods yet. The future holds many changes and developments. They have to take every opportunity to learn, grow, develop and adapt.

Administrative Professionals who are positive, self-motivated, hardworking, innovative and give their 100% in everything they do, whether there is something in it for them or not, are the ones who become vital in the day to day running of the business. They have to adapt with gender changes and make technology work for them. All signs indicate the profession is here to stay if they keep evolving.

That is the key to safeguarding this job. But it isn’t only up to them. These professionals can help grow businesses. They are the image and the brand. They are a crucial part of any business. They also need the support of management to invest in their skills development. To seek new challenges and take on new responsibilities will expand a skillset that makes Administrative Professionals irreplaceable in the workplace. The Mindspa Institute offers a variety of skills training courses ideal for the Office Professional. Visit www.themindspa.co.za for more information.

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