How to manage a secretariat

How to manage a secretariat

01 January


Do you have a secretariat that is not doing well?

Is there always resentment and irritation?

Are too many mistakes made or deadlines not met?

Perhaps the following points then come into play.


Lack of clarity about roles

In a secretariat you have a wide variety of tasks. Personnel administration, office orders and sometimes even after-sales. And in addition to all that work, it is very easy to ask them an extra question/task. The workload can therefore be quite high.


A secretary also has a supporting role. Saying no or even indicating that an extra task does not fit into the schedule is not something a secretary will say very often.


It may seem a bit rigid, but giving tasks per person prevents a lot of hassle. First; everyone knows exactly what to do. Second, it prevents a “I thought you would do that” discussion. And thirdly, it also works the other way around. It prevents someone from taking on a task that was not the intention.


A small example

A few months ago someone was hired (I won't mention any names) at a secretariat. She immediately took on a task that someone else had actually been doing for a while. Let’s call her Annie. Annie was free for a few days and noticed that the new person had taken on that task. Annie doesn't accept that. She takes that task back. The new person immediately complains to the manager. To Annie's surprise, she is confronted about it, not the new one. Something very small, but still

Annie didn't sleep well for a few nights

She now goes to the office severely demotivated

And the atmosphere immediately dropped to zero


It is therefore important that everyone knows what is expected of her. That seems like a no-brainer, but do all the ladies in your secretariat know what exactly they have to do each day? Does the secretariat have a clear objective? Do they also have the freedom to organize their own work?


Lack of clarity in communication.

A good atmosphere is very important in a secretariat. If someone wants to do a nice job, the sentence always starts with: “It doesn't matter to me, but…” or “I would like to do this, but it doesn't matter to me.”

So terribly unclear. Because of course it matters. But in a secretariat the relationship is very important, so if someone wants to organize an event, for example, then it is not accepted if that person says: I will do that. The others will get annoyed. And the discussion then very quickly turns to “I was the principle that counts” or “it was the way you said it”. It's never actually about the content.


A second point is listening.

It's incredibly difficult to listen (and that doesn't just apply to women). When someone is spoken to, it often feels like a direct attack. Years ago I was an office manager and led a team of 3 people. One always came to work 5 minutes late. That got annoying after a while. I spoke to her about it. The first thing she did was make excuses. It's only 5 minutes, there was a traffic jam, yesterday I was only 2 minutes late.

So she was busy to defend herself and I was busy talking about office rules. We both spoke the same language, but we didn't understand each other. At least one then.


Lack of clarity about unwritten rules

Some examples:

When you come to a counter in the morning and you hear: “We always say good morning here”

If you come to the secretariat at 10 a.m. with an emergency job: “We always have a coffee break here at 10 a.m.”

If a simple note has not been dealt with the same day and you think: “Why can’t they finish their work even if it is 5 p.m.”

These rules are not described anywhere and yet they cause a lot of irritation.

Do not get me wrong. I don't want to give the impression that we women are strange creatures. But a different approach is needed when managing women. The atmosphere is very important and a lot of time and energy is invested in good mutual understanding. Something to keep in mind when managing a secretariat

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