An organized, multi-tasking office administrator is invaluable to any workplace — and many businesses would fall apart without one. But what are the business administration skills that employers really want? Is it just about having a good telephone manner, a knack for answering emails quickly and the ability to make a top-notch cup of coffee? Not in 2019. These days, administrative staff need to be able to juggle a dozen projects at any one time. Here we outline 14 of the most vital administrative skills a would-be employee needs, and give tips on how to improve your own competency at them.
1. Communication Skills
Can you answer emails, telephone calls and face-to-face enquiries in a polite and efficient manner? Can you give feedback to employees and co-workers in a tone that is both constructive and non-accusatory, however poorly they may have completed the task? If so, you’re well on the way to being a positive, master communicator — a skill that is highly valued in today’s workplace.
2. Technology Skills
Microsoft Office skills
Microsoft Office programs like Word and Excel are the cornerstone of any modern office. So if you aren’t familiar with how they work, find an online course or a course at a local library, and brush up your skills. Once your Microsoft Office is fluent, day-to-day work will be so much easier.
Database management skills
Being able to organize data in a clear way is a key business administrative skill. From working with spreadsheets to managing an offline filing system, your life will be easier once you’ve got a database system worked out. Improve your skills online, or once again enquire at your local library for relevant books and training courses they may hold on-site.
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3. Attention to Detail
Being able to remember detail and execute all tasks in a specific way is a key business administration skill. From how the boss likes her coffee, to what time you need to send the post to the post-room, employers will reward you and value you more if you have a detail-oriented outlook.
4. Written Skills
We may live in a digital world, but it’s still super important to have a good grasp of the written word. If you can compose emails, text messages, social media posts and other written communication quickly and effectively, your company will value you even more than they already do. Brush up on your skills with an online course, or by practising at home.
5. Time Management
A key business administration skill to possess! Max this skill by writing a list of all the tasks you need to do in a day, allocating a time value to each one. For example: sorting through and replying to all the morning emails: 60 minutes. Booking meeting rooms and food for today’s lunch meetings: 30 minutes. Once you’ve allocated a time value to each task, you’ll have a kind of ‘map’ of your day’s work. Then keep an eye on the clock and go through each task in turn. You should finish on time and even have a moment or two to spare!
6. Problem Solving
Problems do crop up from time to time. But if you can bring a solution to the problem, instead of just highlighting what’s wrong, then you’re well on the way to winning at this key skill. For example, if an employee doesn’t turn up for work, don’t just tell the boss he or she is absent. Go into the meeting with a list of three other staff members whose availability you have already checked, and the boss will appreciate your resourcefulness.
7. Supervising, Delegation & Team Working
We might like to do everything ourselves, but this isn’t always possible. Follow the lead of great managers and learn to delegate. Allocate less skilled jobs to less experienced team members, and keep the challenging tasks for yourself or for people on the team who you know really can deliver. It’s also vital to know you can ask for help when you need it. Trying to do everything on your own can lead to a feeling of isolation, stress and panic — not qualities any employer wants to see in his or her team.
8. Organizational skills
This is up there with time management and problem-solving as a key business administrative skill. Max your organizational capacities by practising with your home life. Spend a day off organizing your house; making lists of things that need doing and labeling them in order of priority — such as cleaning, grocery shopping, bill paying, maintenance, etc. Once you’ve worked out how to improve your skills by practising on yourself, you can go into work ready to deploy these organizational skills to the benefit of your boss. They will certainly be pleased!
9. General Administrative Skills
From filing and tidying to record-keeping and receipt management, there are lots of small skills needed to make you a brilliant administrator. Realise that all these tiny tasks add up to equal a job — a vital job at that, and you’ll be more motivated to work at improving your skills on a day to day basis.
10. Customer Service
Customer service skills are vital to any customer-facing business, and even to those where you don’t meet the customers personally. If a letter comes into the office from a customer and needs a reply, be ready to give one that lets the customer know he or she is right — and valued.
11. Planning and Research Skills
When you’re asked to organize the office Christmas party, in July, you’ll need to roll out your A-list organizational skills. Because although the event is six months away, you’ll need to devise a timeline to make sure everything gets done at the right moment, making you ready for the big day when it eventually arrives. Research skills are also very important in today’s information age. The internet is awash with information on absolutely everything, but can you distinguish between fake news, mindless chatter on social media and the content that really matters? Practise by researching a couple of topics that interest you personally, and seeing if you can find the truth of the matter by identifying reliable websites and news outlets.
This is a key skill that all employers like to see in their staff! If you can dig deep and find new solutions to existing problems, then your value on the team will sky-rocket. You’re probably already resourceful in your own life — when it comes to parenting or budgeting, it’s hard not to be. So see if you can apply this resourcefulness to work too.
13. Budget Management
Another vital skill that employers need on the team. The ability to manage money — from petty cash to huge budgets for events and salaries — is hugely important in the workplace. Keep detailed notes of all money that flows in or out of your work account, and keep a paper trail. When it comes to cash, it’s important to be able to prove where things went, and that you were authorized to pay for something at all.
14. Social Media Management
It’s 2019 and social media has never been more vital to business, so this skill could not be more important. Hone your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat skills by following a bunch of influential and well-followed millennials, and get ready to learn from the next generation. They know the difference between a winning hashtag and one that won’t generate any interest at all!
Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash
Why You Need These Business Administration Skills
We’ve thrown 14 key skills at you, but there are reasons you need to acquire these skills, including:
To Change Your Job
If ever you want to change your job, you’ll need a winning CV that lists all these skills. But more importantly, you’ll need to be able to show at interview stage that you really can execute all these skills to a high level.
To Get a Promotion
If you’re acing all the administrative challenges that come your way, you may end up first in line for a promotion, which can mean more money, more responsibility and less actual admin on your plate. So improve your administrative skills now and it might help you move away from the elements of your job you don’t totally love, in future years.
To Get a First Job
If you’re looking for your first business administration job ever, mastering these skills can really help you get a new job. If you want to provide better for your family, or have more day-to-day variety at work, a business administrator role could be a way to do it. So don’t get depressed at the idea of practising your skills; instead, think of it as a step on the way to a better future.
Tips on How to Acquire or Improve Your Skills
1. Find a Mentor
If you have a senior colleague who’s a whizz at administration, ask him or her if they can mentor you. In exchange for 30 minutes and one cup of coffee per week, you may pick up some invaluable, money-can’t-buy tips that will really help you to progress. It’s certainly worth an ask, anyway!
2. Continue Education: Get a Degree or MBA
A first business degree or an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) can really help you to develop these key skills. Tuition-free courses such as those offered by UoPeople can be a great way of learning whilst working. You can study part-time and at times that suit you. Find out more by clicking here.
3. Offer to Take on Leadership Roles or Extra Projects
From organizing a charity sports-day to mentoring a younger colleague yourself, oftentimes just giving back a bit of time or knowledge can help you improve your own skills. When you sit down to explain something to a new employee, you might realize just how much you already know.
4. Practise on Your Own After Hours
As explained above, practicing some of these skills on your own at home can be a great, safe way to get the edge on your day job. Re-organize your closet, or your finances, or your fridge! Whatever it is, try a new technique and if it works, take it into the workplace the next day.