Problems at a secretariat and how to deal with them

Problems at a secretariat and how to deal with them

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 quite easy to ask them an extra question/task. The workload can therefore be quite high.

And because of the supporting role they have and the flexibility that is expected, many tasks are assigned to the secretariat that do not belong there at all.

It may seem a bit rigid, but assigning tasks per person prevents a lot of hassle. Everyone knows exactly what to do. And it prevents a “I thought you would do that” discussion.

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 been doing for a while. I’ll call her Annie. Annie was off for a few days and noticed that the new one had taken on her task. Annie didn't accept that and took that task back. The new one immediately complained to the team leader. Because of all the hustle and bustle, that team leader was happy that the work was being done. She is annoyed that she's being disturbed for something like that. To Annie's surprise, she was confronted about it, not the new one.

Something very small, there is uncertainty about only one task, but still
Annie didn't sleep well for a few nights
She now goes to the office severely demotivated
The atmosphere immediately dropped to zero
And the team leader thought it was ‘much to do about nothing’.
And, this example really happened (!)

It is therefore important that everyone knows what is expected of each other. 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 especially important in a secretariat. Every team leader who manages a secretariat knows this. That means that very often no one will speak their mind on a certain matter. Many will pretend that it is not important
So terribly unclear. Because of course it is important.

So, for example, if someone wants to organize an event, it is not accepted if she says: “I will do that.”
That needs to be discussed first. People will get emotional and the discussion then very quickly turns into “it was the way you said it” discussion. It is therefor your job to separate the emotion from the point of discussion.

A second point is listening.
It's incredibly difficult to listen (and that doesn't just apply to secretaries). 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 too 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 only concerned with defending herself and I was only concerned with the rules at the office. We both spoke the same language, but we didn't understand each other. At least one of us.

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 someone comes to the secretariat at 10 a.m. with an urgent job: “We always have a coffee break here at 10 a.m.”
If a simple note is not handled the same day and you think: “Why can’t they just finish their work, even if it is 5 p.m.”
These rules are not described anywhere and yet they cause a lot of irritation.

You as a team leader have certain expectations, and so does your secretariat. It would make a significant difference if you clearly expressed those expectations. Because let's face it, how many times a week are you disappointed with your team because of this?

In addition, I often notice among the team leaders I coach that they think that management is something you just do on the side. While it certainly demands a lot from you. Something to keep in mind when managing a team.

Deel je ervaringen en lees die van anderen!