A pre-21st century employment ad for the “perfect administrator” – then most likely to be called a secretary – stated that “she must be pretty as a pin-up, yet not distracting.”
The ad further defined the job by saying “she must never be rushed (yet do the work of three); never be ruffled, untidy, upset, worried, fed up, or depressed … and always make her boss think he is a genius.”
In today’s workplace, an ad of this nature never would get past the “send” key on the computer. At least, we hope not!
A “secretary” now is more likely to be an administrative professional who handles many duties and usually is the one whom others in an organization turn to for information of all types. Administrative professionals interact with many employees throughout a business, industry or institution and are the “go-to” women and men who know everything from where the emergency supplies are kept to ensuring that information flows smoothly throughout departments. In other words, they are “the glue” that binds everything together.
The administration and staff of the historic John de la Howe School held its Administrative Professionals’ Day observance on April 26 at a luncheon and honored five staff for their contributions to the school, including Teleathia Brown, executive assistant; Debbie Daniels, human resources specialist; Nadine Freeman, human services specialist, and administrative specialists Cheryl Morton and Cheryl Pinckney.
The guest speaker was Dr. LaTonya V. Leverette, and her message was one that JDLH administrative professionals and all others can relate to and use throughout their careers.
Leverette, JDLH admissions coordinator, discussed the “CARE” that makes the workplace run smoothly and effectively.
The first requirement is that we “connect,” said Leverette.
“You are the first voice of John de la Howe. You must be the most positive person. You are the image of John de la Howe.”
Others should “appreciate” those who are on the front lines of the agency. “You don’t make all that you deserve. But you are special. You are significant.”
“Respect” is vital, too, because many, if not most, administrative professionals in an organization are female. ‘Carry yourself in a respectful way. Talk and speak professionally.”
People often have an image of John de la Howe simply because of a phone conversation that he or she has had with an administrative professional or other staff member. “Before people even walk into John de la Howe, they have an image of you. People can be rude or discourteous, but we must remain respectful.”
Leverette called on staff to “encourage” themselves and others.
Troubles don’t last forever. “Stay in the fire,” she said “Remain positive and continue to encourage people.”
Leverette told her own story of her career, saying that after her first day on the job as a corrections officer – which also was the first day of her career beyond school – that she said, “I quit.”
Yet, she went back the next day and the day after and the week after and the month after until now she has earned 27 years as a state employee. Not only did she encourage herself to move forward, but she has tried to encourage others when the road was difficult to maneuver.
“Continue to be the awesome people you are,” she said. “People notice you.”
Recognition of administrative staff had its origins with the National Secretaries Association and later the Professional Secretaries International. The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) was formed in 1998. Two years later, IAAP announced that names of the week and the day were changing to Administrative Professionals Week and Administrative Professionals Day to keep pace with the modern administrative workforce.
— Submitted by Karen Petit (Karen.Petit@delahowe.k12.sc.us)