How do we make real change in the admin and assistant industry?

Changing the admin industry

A few weeks ago Melissa Mosher, aka the Savvy Ninja, posted this in an online forum for admins and assistants.

“‘I read an admin post — “titles & Boss gifts ARE steps in change. Of course, leaders don’t complain without having innovative solutions to try.’

What do you think? Do you agree?

  1. What change are WE enabling? Enabling vs waiting for?
  2. Is this the most efficient and effective way to get there?
  3. What does the future look like if we all learn to gift bosses right and get the right title?

Interesting how we each and collectively define ‘change.’

Are we waiting for change from others or are we enabling it within ourselves?”

Melissa tagged me along with some other industry leaders, to ask for our opinions. Here is my answer…

I will start by saying this… though this group [the one I was posting in] has EA in the title of it, clearly not only EAs are in here.

This group can be an oasis for those who are siloed in their roles – such as an office manager at a doctor’s office – and where asking a question about gifting is helpful to them and therefore important. Though it may seem small to someone else.

I think one person asking for advice on titles or about gifting has no correlation to what that means to another person’s career, especially if that person reads the question and rolls their eyes. Nor does it necessarily correlate to the advancement of all admins/assistants.

But I think it does in a way.

The advancement is in raising ALL of us up together. Helping everyone. If you can’t relate to their question, you aren’t meant to answer.

If you are in a more business focused/strategic role then only those questions regarding that area may be of interest to you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help a sister/brother out when they are fretting about job titles? Perhaps that person needs to ask if they are contributing in the way they are wanting others to contribute. Speaking in the Love Language in which you want to be spoken to. (Great book if you haven’t read it btw).

We don’t all have to be focused on advancing the industry. Some just want to keep their jobs. Or learn what they can expect their next steps to be.

I’m going to change the questions because I can only answer for me.

1. What change am I enabling? Enabling and waiting for?

I am focused on empowering admin and assistants that are in 60% of our industry – SMBs – who likely fell into this role, are learning as they go as fast as they can, likely have no mentor and likely have little to no budget. But is scrappy AF. (This is my niche at The Officials).

I enable by empowering at all levels. By making them feel heard, by saying they aren’t alone, by giving them advice or hooking them up with someone who can give better advice than I can. I don’t know everything. The good leaders I’ve worked for freely admit that. But they know the questions to ask and they are good at finding and trusting those that have the answers. I strive to be that.

I am waiting for us all to raise each other up. Most of the time we are. This fills my soul. No question is stupid or non advancing. If it helps one of us, it helps us all.

I read an article this year by a thought leader in our industry and it basically was saying you aren’t a real assistant until you’ve worked a 10 hour day. Until you’ve broken yourself for your executive. I read that and said “Fuck that.” But also that is the way for some. Some thrive on that and that’s AMAZING. But from experience and from countless conversations I’ve had with those in our industry it is definitely not the only definition of an EA. Those people are needed but that brush doesn’t paint everyone. No assistant is Less while another assistant is More. (I JUST did an IGTV on this yesterday.)

As no single human being is Less while another is More. We are all equal. We are all peers. Because we are all human.

My word this year is Thrive. I posted about this on IG. What it boils down to is: We thrive together.

We thrive TOGETHER.

2. What is the most efficient and effective way to get there?

I do it through The Officials. I created a community of support at all levels. I mentor. I listen. I compliment, congratulate and console (stolen from Jesse Itzler but because I couldn’t say it any better than that). And I join communities like this amazing group and I bring that same heat and intention.

3. What does the future look like if we all learn to gift bosses right and get the right title?

This is a non question for me personally. There are a million scenarios for even just one person gifting their boss something. What it means to them isn’t what it means to another most likely.

To them it can mean repairing a damaged relationship with an executive. A question about title progression could mean the difference between getting a house and not getting a house. It can be the difference between leaving a role that is killing their spirit and finally understanding where they fit so they can get on with getting to it!

My motto is to be kind and come with good intentions only when posting or commenting because we all thrive together.
Real talk – I was invited by Facebook to be a member of their power admins community. Admin as in a FB Group Admin (like those that run this group) and not assistants/admin assts.

I run several communities. And I constantly worry about the mental health of the members. My stomach flips when I see them turn on each other. This is a COMMUNITY. To me that means support, guidance and love.

All of the FB events I’ve been involved in are about the mental health of the admin (group owners) and the members. We see some effed up shit. People die. People get abused and attacked. People get suicidal. People lose their businesses due to Cancel Culture. This happens to both admins (group owners) and members. But we all stay and try to work together to better us as a whole.

It has helped define my approach in mentoring and leading. It has helped me see that any help you can give another is valuable. You don’t know their story. You could be answering a simple question about your experience with titles and you could be changing their whole damn life. I’ve seen it happen.
I think, I could be wrong, that this post is essentially about what could we be doing that is beyond the every day that advances our profession. (Like I said I think I 80% get it).

Yes there are lots of things we can be doing.

For one, I hate to say it but it’s an effing title change. LOL. Assistant ain’t it. Life manager is closer. But how do you pick it and universally change it. That’s a conversation I am at the table for. Sign me up. But I’m okay with assistant too and helping educate others on what that means we are capable of doing.

Are we trying to advance the ceiling of assistant? I am hesitant to say EA/CoS because I’ve seen enough people without those titles kick some major ass in business.

Controversial but maybe the next step is CEO. Or Managing Director. Or Head of Operations. Or VP of Client Services. Or Head of Culture. Everyone has different skills. Our roles require different skills even in the same job title across different companies. So where I take my career is totally different than another. I can give verbal suggestions based on norms and also share what I did or what other have done. It’s up to the person who hears/reads it to digest it and make their own path.

But not every assistant wants to be an EA. Nor a CEO. They just want to do their job well and feel purposeful. Do we all have to be defining the next step? Do we all have to be boarding rockets 🚀? No. But some definitely should. It’s going to be a minority. That’s okay and as it should be. Can you imagine if 9k of us in the group tried to do that? Nothing can get done with that make cooks in a kitchen.

So going back to what I said before…

I start by trying to advance all of us at any stage. One person at a time. One post at a time. One conference call at a time. One course at a time. I try to spread the word and get help to those who are in need and are feeling confused and/or alone. I try to be accessible, helpful and kind.

Well I was just aiming for, “I hope I didn’t mess that up too badly.”

Written by The Officials founder, Lauren Bradley.