Written by: Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, AdminUniverse
Previously we explored the first two Leadership Fundamentals; Communication and Motivation – but there’s more! To fully engage your Administrative Leadership Role, we have a few more skills on the checklist. Whether you already have a firm grasp on these or you are just diving in, you should revisit these principles on a routine basis to make certain your team is striving for success!
As an Administrative Professional, you are the beacon that guides your office into a positive mental space. Many will confide in you, ask for your advice, and come to you for comfort – so it is important to brace yourself with a positive attitude and methods to lead your team into creating a welcoming and happy atmosphere that will allow your team to thrive.
Conflict Management is a great way to foster positivity between colleagues that may have trouble getting along. Conflict arises in every office, and many times it comes down to the Administrative Professional to detect conflict and either alert the Human Resources Department or mediate personally. Conflict Management techniques will help to eliminate negative occurrences and act as preventative measures for the future.
Empathy is an important skill to practice for when people are having a difficult time. Throughout the week, different team members may be struggling with various personal issues that could affect their performance at work. Being able to identify those circumstances early on and deal with them in an empathetic manner will strengthen relationships in the office, and provide comfort to those who are dealing with rough situations. Keep in mind that people deal with situations differently. What you consider to be inconsequential may be life-changing for someone else, so don’t assume they are overreacting.
Encouragement is one of the biggest components for a positive environment. Most often when work is suffering, it is due to a lack of appreciation for the work they are doing. Even small recognitions for a job well done will serve to encourage people and uplift their spirits and positivity. Take the time to send a quick email to a colleague recognizing the success of a recent offsite or pulling together a last minute all hands meeting.
Humor is a wonderful relief from the day-to-day stress that accompanies any office. When used appropriately, humor can bring so much light and positivity into the environment, and changing attitudes from negative to positive!
As a leader, you will often be faced with problems that require a little more thought, or an out-of-the-box solution. Creativity is a great way to set an example of unique problem solving techniques.
Conceptualization requires experimenting with ideas in an abstract manner, strategizing outwardly whether verbally with a group, or on paper. Many times, it is only after forming and re-forming ideas over and over, that you finally curate the final and most efficient version.
Identifying Patterns can be used to observe human behavior and identify trends. In the office this can translate into finding what incentives continually motivate productive behavior, or inversely what types of situations are occurring within the office to provoke negative responses. Once you pinpoint winning combinations, you are well on your way to building a stronger and more efficient team, while proactively avoiding obstacles that prevent your team from reaching their full potential.
Open-Mindedness is key to exploring new options. Instead of focusing on one result, examine the surrounding factors. Taking time to step back and observe the big picture in context and being open to hearing all sides of a story will help you to reach a fantastic approach to understanding how things truly work and how to improve them.
As a leader, you should always be seeking to acquire feedback from your team to evaluate the effectiveness and progress of any process – especially when it is a new process that has been put in place. Additionally, this is a great way to open conversations about the performance of individuals in your team. Constant evaluation is key to building a stronger workflow in your office.
Be Approachable. If your team doesn’t see you as approachable, it will hinder the amount of feedback and the authenticity of what type of feedback you receive – whether it is about a process, their performance or even your own. Always ask and listen first. If someone even senses that they are being attacked by the way a question is asked of them, or if a conversation begins with an accusation, your team member is likely to shut down or only focus on defending themselves. Make sure they feel that speaking with you is a safe space and that their opinion is respected.
Clear Expectations and clarity is key. Be candid – straightforward and honest about what you expect of their performance or of a specific process. Make goals clear, concise and achievable. When it comes to individual expectations, this should be catered to the team members abilities. Since no two people are the same, individual expectations should be tailored in a way that will not intimidate them to the point that they give up. You want to provide an opportunity for them to feel motivation through confidence in order for them to flourish.
Follow Up with your team after any feedback is received. You want them to feel that their opinion is valued, and they need to be aware that you are taking things seriously in evaluating any circumstance. This is especially important when dealing with conflict. Following up shows that you care about their well-being as well as the morale of the office.