Five Skills You Need to Succeed in the Modern Office

By Eleanor Whitney, Managing Editor at Managed by Q

You’ve honed your skills, polished your resume, gone through the interview process, and landed the job, but now what? What do you need to do to make sure that you shine at work? As the editor of All Hands, a publication about life at work, I have the opportunity to get insight into how many different types of offices are run. In talking with everyone from office managers, to CEOs to workplace culture experts, I’ve found that these five skills will help you stand out and be an asset to any company – no matter what your position or career ambition.

  1. Become a clear and trustworthy communicator: In any role, communication is key. However, if you are working in an admin, assistant, or office manager role, being a trustworthy communicator is crucial. Foster an environment of accessibility so your colleagues can have an open line of communication with you so if they have questions about a project you are working on, a workplace policy, or a request your boss made, they can trust you to listen to them and respond appropriately.
  2. Fine tune your sense of empathy: Empathy, the understanding and experiencing another person’s emotions while maintaining your own self-awareness, is a must have skill for the modern office. It has even been forecasted as the professional skill you must have by 2020. The ability to understand the perspectives of others enhances project management and helps everyone you work with feel heard and valued. Working to develop your sense of empathy personally, or with your team, can strengthen the work all of you do and positively impact the company’s bottom line.
  3. Set priorities, boundaries, and expectations: When we want to impress our colleagues and succeed in our role our natural tendency is to say “yes” to everything and drop what we are doing to get it done right away. Especially when you are working as an admin or office manager, some tasks are truly urgent. However, learning to discern between the “right now” and the “as soon as I am able” can be the difference between getting your work done and feeling scattered and unproductive. Some tasks require focus. Sara, Accounting and Office Manager at Idealist, recommends taking a proactive approach when defining your priorities. “Don’t be afraid to set personal boundaries at work and don’t be afraid to enforce them when you are concentrating on a project,” she says. “Boundaries ensure that you are more emotionally available when you do have time.”
  4. Build a network of like-minded professionals: You’ve heard it before: networking is key to finding a job. But your network can also help you do your job better once you are there. As an office manager or admin you can use networking to talk to peers who are solving similar issues at their company, share best practices, seek recommendations for vendors and tools to assist with your work, or simply find a sympathetic ear to talk through challenges you might experience. In addition, as you gain experience you can become a mentor to those just starting out and gain valuable leadership experience.
  5. Hone your skills with an eye towards your next role: Pay attention to what you enjoy in your job and think about why you enjoy those particular aspects. Then think about what types of roles use these same skills. For example, do you enjoy organizing and facilitating events, working on internal communications, or talking with clients and customers? Perhaps a role on a company’s culture team or as a community manager might make sense as a next step for you. Use your current role to learn about what your company does, and meet people with different roles throughout the company to learn about what you could do next, and then think about what skills you hone to help you get there.

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