Developing the Secretarial Role

The secretarial role is constantly evolving and will continue to do so. Ratios are changing fast, while technology and PC-literate managers are making in-roads into the traditional tasks of a secretary. Keeping up to date with technology is vital although it is probably the easy bit. The harder part is developing the role so that you are more valuable: this requires thought, determination and planning. So here are the top ten tips to help you do this:

1. See everything as an opportunity rather than a threat. And don't wait or hope for things to happen - go and make them happen!

2. Make sure you know what your key objectives are for the coming year. If you don't have any, set some for yourself and document your progress for use in performance reviews and appraisals. Aim for RARE tasks: Relevant, Achievable, Rewarding and Energising.

3. Find yourself a role model either within your own organisation or outside it. Ask them about how they work and use the tips and hints you feel will be of benefit.

4. Join your organisation's mentoring programme, if they have one. Alternatively mentor a more junior member of your team. This will build your confidence, your profile and your experience. You never know when you will need these attributes!

5. Volunteer! For tasks, project teams and new responsibilities: it's the best way to develop skills and knowledge, and to get yourself seen. Consider volunteering to participate if your firm is involved in community projects such as lunchtime reading assistants at local schools, or adult literacy sessions.

6. Make sure you are seen. As Mae West said "I'd rather be looked over, than overlooked". Your image and profile are vital to your development and progression, so if you don't put yourself forward to be looked over, you certainly will be overlooked.

7. Join a professional organisation for secretaries. Network with other professional
secretaries and broaden your skills and knowledge base. Keep yourself up to date with what is happening in the wider secretarial profession since you will then be able to participate in discussion groups, team projects, etc.

8. Consider your manager's role: which areas, tasks or responsibilities would you like to become more involved with, or take over entirely? (If you do not even know what your manager's role and responsibilities involve, how can you support them, let alone develop your role?).

9. Talk to your manager! They can help you develop the role by delegating to you. Find out what their objectives, priorities and hurdles are. Then suggest ways in which you can help them. If you want them to delegate certain tasks to you, I suggest you start by doing parts of it, increasing this so that you eventually have responsibility for all of it. This helps reassure your manager so that (s)he can let go of the task.

10. Always tell yourself what you can do, not what you can't. Passion for the role is vital if you are to develop it.