Coping with Changing Workforces as an Administrative Assistant

There have been many changes in the workplace over the past few decades. Those who have been working for all that time or who are returning to the workforce would notice the multitude of technical changes to working equipment, systems, and methods.

By no means have all of these changes improved the working lives of the administrative staff of a company or made them any easier or less pressured. On the contrary, many people these days seem to be under more pressure and have less free time than ever.

Roles in some cases have already changed beyond recognition, and that change will continue. The future will belong to those who can adapt!


New Administrative Roles

Modern business trends dictate a continually changing nature of administrative work within business organizations, whether the business is small or large. Businesses and companies of all sizes are and will continue to be affected.

For instance, managers at all levels of seniority are now performing work on their own computers that previously would have been done by a typist or their secretaries. We will never return to the heyday of the secretary; there will be fewer and fewer secretarial jobs. There will continue to be more office specialists in the information and administrative areas.

The current title of administrative assistant may not long be sufficient to express the range, breadth, and depth of the skills, knowledge, and expertise required from positions of this type. Hence, the creation of new positions with new titles will arise, heralding greater specialization.

We predict that within the next decade or so, administrative personnel will fulfill an additional number of very different and varied roles, such as the ones listed below.

Organizational information officer: The trend toward individual project-based offices and organizations has begun and is expected to continue into the future. Therefore, almost certainly there will be a need for a central figure to serve as a repository of best practices, general organizational information, history, etc. This will be an important role in helping to ensure both consistency and continuity, assisting new employees and professionals to adapt to the organization's culture, and keeping track of all company data.

Work flow regulator: This person would be the organizer of personnel and other resources needed to accomplish particular projects. The regulator would ensure the teams involved have the support and equipment required to perform the tasks required of them. This would naturally include facilitating between individual teams and transferring of the organization's resources, such as computers and communication tools, between teams as required.

Resource controller: This person would often work for virtual offices that will rely on independent contract workers and be extremely adept at bringing together the different human resources required for particular tasks. This is more or less what a producer does when assembling cast, crew, and production teams for theatre or movie productions.

NB: The same person may perform both of the above roles.

Of course, there will be other specialists, but this gives you an idea.

Change as a Result of Demographic or Economic Shifts
Any economy will go through a series of fluctuations associated with general booms and slumps in economic activity. In a boom, nearly all businesses benefit; in a slump, most will lose out. Economic changes that affect business include changes in interest rates, wage rates, and the rate of inflation.

Naturally, business is much more likely to take risks and expand when economic conditions are propitious. At the moment, times are economically tough all around the world, not just in the United States, as the rest of the world is nearly always affected by the state of the U.S. stock market and economy.

Changes in technology over the last few decades have been extremely significant and are speeding up with particular relevance to communication technologies. The creation of electronic communication systems has enabled vast quantities of information to be shared and distributed quickly within any modern company. These changes have enabled cost reductions, often vast ones, and comparable improvements in service. But they have also called for much more specialized staff and training.

Learning new skills and building on old ones provide the best professional insurance you can get. It not only will improve your performance on the job and your chances of promotion, but it may very well save your future!

You should always be alert to changes and conditions that will affect your career. Here are a few trouble signs you can look out for.

For larger organizations, you should be concerned if all of a sudden your immediate boss is excluded from meetings that he or she used to attend and told to cut back the budget and/or staff. Another warning sign would be when people who used to spend time chatting with your boss stop doing so. Without being paranoid, be prepared. Signs that signify your boss's job may be in jeopardy could also signify that yours is in doubt as well.

For smaller businesses, such as those in which you work directly for the owner, you should maintain an eagle eye for the finer details of what is going on in the business. For instance, have sales been slipping lately? With a normal but temporary slump, that is okay. If it appears to be more of a permanent event, though, you should be wary. Are there creditors that remain unpaid? Has the boss started asking you to field phone calls from certain people, particularly creditors? Are payroll taxes and health insurance premiums up to date?

Are you aware that the Internal Revenue Service can look to you, the individual worker, to pay the payroll tax if your boss has not paid it, even though he or she may have deducted the money from your paycheck already? Also, even if the boss has deducted premiums for health-care coverage, you may not be covered if he or she has not paid the health-care provider. Quite frightening also is the knowledge that you might not even be able to collect unemployment benefits if these taxes were collected from you but not paid.

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Administrative Assistant course?

In other words, be aware of the current status of your employer's financial health; it could be crucial to your future. Ask questions of your employer if you have concerns, and be ready to take the action necessary.

Job Search in the Information Age

There are many reasons you may be looking for a new job; whatever the reason, you must explore all possible avenues to find the right job for you. Rather than just sign up at a few employment agencies and/or look in a paper or two, you need to be proactive and search out all avenues for the plums! Tap your contacts, friends, and relatives; never disregard any possible lead.

One often neglected approach is to research companies you might want to work for or areas in which you really want to work. How and where do you do this? In trade journals, directories available in most libraries, specialist newspapers, and of course online; there is not much you cannot find out on the Web. In newspapers and online, you get the opportunity to read details about companies you otherwise probably would not pick up. For example comments such as "XYZ company promotes strictly from within" or "XYZ has instituted training programs in computing for any staff interested," or even "XYZ, well-known for its laid-back atmosphere, has again improved its working benefits for employees," etc.

Job postings on Internet job sites such as the following can be well worth checking, especially as they allow you to post your résumé for prospective employers for no charge, as well as provide other relevant information.
Building Self-esteem, Self-confidence, and Assertiveness in Yourself and Others

Self-esteem, self-confidence, and assertiveness are all different facets of someone's personality and character traits.

Before we go any further with this article, we need to ensure that something important is clarified: Self-esteem and self-confidence are not one and the same thing.

Many people speak and write of self-esteem and self-confidence in the same breath, as if they are one; but they are not.

In very simple language, self-esteem refers to how much you care about yourself, and self-confidence is simply how well you think you can actually do something. This explanation is simplistic but accurate.

Assertiveness is something else again. People tend to confuse it with aggressivness. Too often these days, what some people consider to be assertiveness is really only mislabeled aggression and rudeness.

While an aggressive person does not respect the personal boundaries of others, assertive people do. People who do not respect the boundaries of others can do a great deal of harm. For instance, aggressive people can persuade a quieter type of person to do something that is not in that person's best interests.

An assertive person will not be afraid to speak his or her mind or possibly try to influence others, but he or she does so in a way that is respectful of others' personal boundaries, even when the assertive person wishes to promote his or her own view.

Now that we have an idea of these basic differences, let us proceed to briefly touch on how to build your own self-esteem and self-confidence and to display assertiveness, not aggression. This will allow you to teach others to do the same.
UNDERSTANDING Dr. Nathaniel Branden expanded the definition of the concept of self-esteem, a field he began pioneering more than 30 years ago. He defined it in one of his books, The Psychology of Self-Esteem, as follows:
  • confidence in our ability to think and in our ability to cope with the basic challenges of life, and
  • confidence in our right to be successful and happy, the feelings of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and wants, achieve our dreams, and enjoy the fruits of our efforts.

The writer has done a great deal of research on self-esteem and confidence over the years, including reading of a number of books, research studies, and training materials. This has helped to confirm that, apart from the more obvious cultural differences, the wide range of behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs held by people can almost always be traced back to the beliefs they hold about and the value they place on themselves.

The idea that our self-concept or esteem affects practically every single thing about each of us all our lives can be quite off-putting, even terrifying, to some. The reality is that any long-term problems we have in our personal lives, careers, or physical or mental health usually are attributable to the quality of our decisions and actions. More often than not, our actions and decisions are traceable to our concepts of ourselves: our self-esteem or lack of it.

It works in both directions, of course. When we see people who have high achievements in most if not all areas of their lives, we nearly always discover they have high self-esteem and a good opinion of themselves.

The following quote by Nathaniel Branden contains within it the key element of the road to higher self-esteem: "The errors you are willing to confront become the rungs of a ladder leading to higher self-esteem." A visit to Dr. Branden's Web site is a must for people interested in delving into the concept of self-esteem:

Here are some tips on how to improve your self-esteem, which in turn has a direct influence on your self-confidence. You will want to share them with others.

Concentrate on your achievements and how they make you feel, rather than your failures. If you stop and think about this, you will recognize that you really have accomplished quite a lot over your lifetime so far. The fact that some or even all of these accomplishments may matter only to you does not make any difference. The point is to concentrate on the positive rather than the negatives.

Get your campaign going for the future, and that action is bound to lift your spirits. In other words, stop procrastinating and start planning and taking action toward the things you would like to do but maybe never thought you were capable of or had the courage for. Do it now. Easier said than done, you say! Not so if you take one step at a time. When you have done that thing, whether or not you do it very well, you will be that much more capable of doing another and another and another.

What is it you appreciate or like about yourself? There must be something, some quality or character trait that you and others like about you. People with low self-esteem nearly always concentrate on the things they do not like about themselves. You need to reverse this type of thinking.

What would you change if you could that will enable you to feel better about yourself? Think of things you have control over. Sometimes there are things you would like to change but cannot. You may just need to accept these and appreciate that you can be happy, anyway. In other words, just get on with life.


Why should any of us try to increase our self-confidence? Particularly if we are managing okay with the level of self-confidence we already have?

The reason is simple: As our level of self-confidence increases, our courage increases, permitting us to do the things we never believed we could do but always wanted to do. More pathways tend to open for self-confident people.

The question now: Do you wish to be more self-confident, and would you like to help other people develop their level of self-confidence as well?

It has become very obvious to this writer over the years that people with high levels of self-confidence are very positive people. Positive people love life and live it to the full because they somehow see chances and opportunities that others miss. Why wouldn't anyone wish to have improved self-confidence?
A great and easy way to improve your self-confidence is to mix with self-confident people who have the values, beliefs, and aspirations that you have and will be supportive of you as another person trying to achieve.

The great news is that it is not all that complicated to increase your level of confidence. It can be learned, developed, and built upon. You could work on your own level of self-confidence while adding to the level of confidence of people around you.

A lot of people who appear confident really are not. They are just putting on a performance by acting confident, and that is not a bad place to start.

The best way for people to build their self-confidence is to take baby steps. This approach will help build a rock-solid foundation that no one will be able to shake. You extend yourself or the person you are trying to assist by stretching little by little, accomplishing those small but real achievements. By building on a solid foundation, step by step, it may take longer but will be incredibly successful.


Do not forget: Assertiveness is not aggressiveness. Without any doubt, assertiveness is a quality that is very necessary in today's world.

Assertive persons stand up for themselves, demand their rights, and are prepared to argue for those rights. It is obvious from even those few words that assertiveness and self-confidence are not only linked but are simply different sides of the same coin in a way.

Unfortunately, assertiveness does not come easily to the majority of people. Parents often stress to children that they should try to fit into society's norms; therefore, it seems necessary not only to be reasonably compliant but to behave in a way society approves.

Guidelines for Developing Assertiveness and Self-confidence

Establish values and beliefs that you believe in and therefore are happy to live by.

Use positive, upbeat affirmations that assert your own abilities and strengths.

Know the specifics before you enter into any new endeavor, thereby giving yourself some control and choices over a situation and the circumstances surrounding it.

Look ahead, anticipate the opposition you may meet, and be ready to handle it.

Always defend your position, whenever possible, with open questions; they allow you to regain the upper hand.

Inspirational people and books are a must to surround yourself with.

Have faith in yourself and others, and both assertiveness and self-confidence will triu