By Johanna Menzel
When thinking about secretaries, most of the time outdated ideas of what it means to be a company secretary pops up in peoples mind. However, the reality is that the role of the secretary has evolved. The word “secretary” itself has largely been replaced by more appropriate job titles such as “personal assistant”, “executive secretary” or “management assistant”. There are a lot of challenges faced by secretaries at work.
Company secretaries are “the eyes” of the company, working around the clock, often in the background. They serve the needs not only of the management board, but also the employees and the customer equally. Without their commitment and support, the smooth functioning of the business would probably be jeopardized.
Fly Aeolus has compiled a list of the 5 most common challenges faced by secretaries at work. We will give tips and tricks to empower the executive secretary through their workday.
The tasks of a modern company secretary mostly include:
- Assuring that meetings are effectively organized and recorded
- Maintaining effective records and administration
- Maintaining legal requirements concerning administrative documents, charity law, company law and so on
- Serving as the hub for correspondence and communication between management and employees and suppliers
- Develop spreadsheets, databases, data sets or presentations
- Serving as an office administrator
In order to effectively fulfill the role, you as a secretary must overcome the following challenges
1. Understanding the business
Understanding the business of the company you work for is most crucial for being an effective company secretary. Before focusing on any technology and software, a secretary should focus on the basic business skills and understand the bigger picture. He or she must be able to give valuable advice at all times. Wheter it has to do with company management, finance or operations. Access to and working with the company’s management is essential to develop a good understanding of the business.
As secretaries serve as an information hub, even though that they are not participating in all meetings and conference calls, they would know more than the typical employee. This is because they have mastered the act of eaves dropping, asking the right questions and piecing bits of information together to obtain the right answers.
2. Dealing with difficult personalities
Secretaries are the first person to whom managers, employees, suppliers, customers, board members and visitors are most likely to come when they require something for their job.
In general, these people will be pleasant. Unfortunately in some cases, secretaries will have to work with people who are more difficult to deal with. These people may consider you to be less important than other employees or they may see you as a person on whom they can unleash their compressed anger.
Most management boards have a multitude of personalities which sometimes do not get along with each other. Dealing with these different personalities secretaries must have a certain charm. You can help overheated persons to calm down, regain confidence in the company by instilling confidence and assure that everything will be resolved as quickly as possible.
It is clear that you, as a company secretary, must be aware of the different roles and personalities in order to identify any potential conflicts.
3. Adaptability: Going with the changes
Companies are subject to constant change in today’s digital age. A lack of transformation ability, growing competitive pressure and the inability to react quickly and agile to this, brings many companies to their knees.
Extensive cultural changes are also influencing many industries. Think about sustainability reporting requirements, the #MeToo movement and evolving notions of diversity among executive and board members. All of which culminate in an even stronger cultural trend.
It is not only just a question of the amount of changes companies are seeing, but also the speed at which these movements come to exist. Companies therefore continuously need to be on top of these emerging trends so to implement any actions required. As a consequence board members and executives demand higher quality information, in greater quantity and faster than ever before.
To stay ahead of the curve, secretaries should take time to educate themselves. For example, by expanding your professional interests in order to become more flexible and agile in your role adapting yourself towards these changes. You can take a course in a field that has nothing to do with your area of expertise which challenges your thinking and broadens your mindset.
On a personal level: schedule once per week 2 hours to network and make contacts with colleagues throughout the industry you are working in. Everyone faces the same challenges, share experiences, share insights and advise each other on these challenges.
4. Being blamed for everything that goes wrong
Secretaries may not be the decision-makers but when things go wrong, all fingers mostly point to them. Not necessarily being the source of the problem it is though their responsibility to solve the problem or challenge.
To avoid being accused or blamed, you should keep detailed records of your working day. Write everything down and create a systematic documentation for yourself which covers your work schedule from start to finish, just in case issues might arise unexpectedly.
5. Time management
Especially if secretaries support more than one executive, managing the workload might be one of the biggest challenges. Secretaries are responsible for coordinating meetings, making appointments, arranging travel and scheduling other activities. Scheduling conflicting priorities among executives and last-minute changes make a good time management and other organizational skills essential for a good secretary.
Secretaries are often expected to be available 24/7 as most of the management executives are working long days. The latter often leads to a struggle with the work-life-balance of many secretaries. Knowing when to draw the line is half the battle, some employees can make a situation sound more urgent than it really is. Secretaries should learn to assess the situation and make decisions accordingly.
It is often a challenge for a company secretary to find a suitable flight in line with the managing director’s schedule. Due to the fixed schedules of commercial airlines and the lack of direct connections to specific destinations, it is often a tedious search. Changing vehicles and changing planes make the travel time for the manager quiet often much longer than necessary. Business trips like these require the manager to block multiple days in their agenda.
Going to the airport chances are high your manager ends up in a traffic jam. And once arrived at the airport, he faces long queues at check-in, security checks and customs.
Flying with Fly Aeolus!
Not with Fly Aeolus! Fly Aeolus can take off and land at 1600 airports in Europe. Your manager will land closer to its final destination. Most of them are smaller and less busy than the airports from which commercial flights depart. With a Fly Aeolus air taxi, you no longer have to line the queue, saving a lot of time in which you can continue working productively. Check in time is only 15 minutes before departure.
We are look forward to helping you reducing the stress in your manager’s schedule.