Sending the Message That You Are Not a Personal Assistant

Lauren Krause
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As an administrative assistant, getting a well-defined list of your responsibilities may be difficult. You will likely do a wide variety of tasks for one or more office members. It's likely that you might feel as though you've become more of a personal assistant than an administrative assistant. Here are a few ways to clarify exactly what your office duties are.

Learn To Be Firm

While it's true that some of your everyday duties as an administrative assistant may walk a fine line between doing personal tasks for your employer and fulfilling actual office responsibilities, you need to define your limits. Once you have established your office duties, stand firm if you are approached to do anything that goes too far beyond the scope of your defined duties.

For example, you may be fine with picking up coffee for the entire office every day, but uncomfortable with picking up your boss's weekly groceries. Remind your boss and co-workers that your role as an administrative assistant is to support the working office, not to make their private lives easier.

Keep Yourself Busy

This is a simple tip that can really make a difference for any administrative assistant, because a busy, productive assistant can become invaluable to an office. If you are diligently working on one task, your bosses won't be likely to ask you to handle personal tasks unless they are clueless about what's good for their business.

If you find that your co-workers ask you to stop what you are working on to start something else, look at the two projects and prioritize them by how much each will impact the success of your company or department. Sometimes, simply pointing out the fact that your current task should take priority over whatever has been requested is enough to set anyone straight about your job responsibilities.

Be Flexible

It may sound counter-intuitive, but an administrative assistant must be willing to take on some tasks that are slightly personal in nature to benefit the office. For example, you may be asked to pick up lunch for your boss and co-workers if they are stuck in an important meeting. The occasional "personal" request shouldn't be a problem, as long as it is beneficial for the company.

Many businesses have taken on fewer assistants, including personal assistants, as the economy has fluctuated. This means that administrative assistants are required to take on a wider variety of tasks, including those that a personal assistant traditionally handles. The key to keeping your role as an administrative assistant clear is to be on the same page with your boss about what your job responsibilities are right from the start.

Being an administrative assistant can be difficult but rewarding. Learning to walk the fine line between flexibility and becoming a pushover personal assistant is tricky, but if you succeed in doing so, you'll enjoy your job much more.


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