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Are Bosses Writing Off Administrative Professionals Week?

It’s Administrative Professionals Week!

You know, the time of year employers "recognize" the employees in a supporting drama role. "Recognize" is in quotations because I very much loathe this word in a workplace context. To "recognize" someone, one generally has to either forget him or her (at least temporarily) or the person is a hazy presence in one's mind. Have I seen you before? Ah, yes. You work here, right? Anyway, it’s always felt like the wrong choice of word somehow.

Perhaps "recognize" is the right word choice this year, however, given a new OfficeTeam survey that finds office support staff are the Susan Luccis of the work world, always overlooked when it comes to awards and recognition for a job well done. More than one-quarter (27%) of senior managers in the OfficeTeam survey admit that their administrative employees don't get enough recognition throughout the year. Nearly one-fifth (18%) say that their companies don’t recognize Administrative Professionals Week AT ALL, meaning their support teams get nada. Zippo. Thanks for playing, now transfer my calls to voice mail.

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Come on, managers. Don’t you realize how important your supporting players are? They’re your gatekeepers; the initial point of contact most customers have with your company. To many customers, your supporting players are the company. Talk about a starring role.

Administrative assistants also wield more power than their co-workers tend to realize. Sure, you might have a fancy pants MBA from a top ten business school, but piss off the administrative assistant and you could be taking calls from irate customers faster than you can say Administrative Professionals Week. Cardinal rule: Never anger the receptionist. Ever. Every business school should offer a mandatory seminar on the proper treatment of administrative and clerical staff, it's that important.

Think about it this way: Your support players decide what gets done first, and the pace at which it will get done. They’re the ones deciding which sales person gets to talk to a potential new client seeking product information, and they’re the ones catching the boss's typos so he or she doesn’t look like a complete idiot. They're the gatekeepers, remember?

So be kind to your support staff this week. Hell, every day for that matter. Charm them, make them like you. You need these employees on your side, all the time. They work hard and they put up with a lot of...stuff. They walk softly but carry a big Bic. Flowers, chocolate or a gift card would be an appropriate gesture this week along with a nice card signed by all of their co-workers. A hearty "thank you for all you do year-round!" can go a long way and really, it's just the right thing to do. Now go do it.

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