Educating our Admins…. Why aren’t we??
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When I was a new “admin” or… secretary, as we were called back-in-the-day, there were certain skills required for the job:
- Shorthand (possibly)
- English grammar and spelling skills
- Telephone skills and courtesy
- Business machines (copier/fax/phone/calculator)
- Basic organization
- Basic bookkeeping
Now, I realize that not every secretary knew or was required to use these skills. When I began working and going to college, I could do shorthand, but never, ever used it for my job – to this day. But I could type, and type fast and accurate, I could use the business machines easily, I could file, I had good phone skills that were honed over time, and I (in my humble opinion) had and still have, exemplary grammar and spelling skills. (That’s a whole ‘nother blog to come) All of my skills improved with time on the job. I would not expect anyone to be “perfect” their first day/week/month at a new job. It takes time to fit into the basic atmosphere of an office environment.
As my bosses say… “that being said”, dealing with younger admins today, I have serious, serious doubts about the education they are receiving. I call an office to discuss an issue that they created and the way the phone is answered leaves a whole lot to be desired. I’ve received typed correspondence with typos and grammatical errors that are truly amazing. I see stories online with typos and grammatical errors. Then I find myself many times telling people how to fix the issue they created because they are clueless. I have gone into great detail with people about how basic bookkeeping works and what they need to do. One particular office told me about 15+ years ago that they hired a secretary/receptionist because she was “really good” and they “really wanted” her. Let me tell you… I’m not sure she was worth them knocking themselves out for because this very week I had to educate her about a handful of bookkeeping errors that SHE made. Keep in mind she has been doing this particular job for 15+ years. Here’s the real kicker: She works for a CPA. Staggering.
I guess my question is… why are we not teaching these skills??? Who made the decision to phase out business education?? CLEARLY the skills are still needed, so why are we no longer teaching them?? Do these “kids” think that they can walk in and learn it on the job? Probably. It seems any more that people who have Microsoft Office as a skill on their resume, assume they have all the necessary skills. Well, I hate to tell you, you might be able to USE the software, but you still need the grammatical and spelling skills to create your document. And that’s another thing. How are they learning to set up a letter? How do they know where to put the date, the inside address, the reference line, the body of the letter, the closing?? Do they know the spacing on the page?? From what I see… that’s a big NO, they do NOT. Why are we hiring these people who do NOT have these skills… and WHY ARE THEY NOT BEING TAUGHT??????
Honestly, it makes me want to start a true “secretarial” school. We cram all kinds of “soft skills” such as communication, getting along with co-workers, organization skills, networking, interview skills… down the throats of these young people… all added to the typical “tech skills” such as Microsoft Office, Quickbooks, Social Media Marketing, and Social Media Networking. All skills that are needed, but in my opinion they are sorely lacking in the basics.
What would I teach current admins?
- Telephone etiquette – How to answer the phone, typical responses, how to take a phone message, what information to take down, and how to prioritize messages.
- Basic spelling and grammar – How to form a business sentence, good grammar to use, business wording and jargon, NOT to use “text speak” or slang, and learn to spell and not rely on spell-check.
- Basic document set up – Where to place your letter/document on the page, margins, font choice, and basic document requirements (date, opening, closing).
- Electronic correspondence – Properly formatting and writing an email. No smileys or LOL or text speak. Professional email signatures.
- Basic bookkeeping – Credits/Debits, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, writing checks, check registers, general ledgers – all done manually – not using a computer program. In my opinion you need to know how things work before you use the program.
- Typing/keyboarding – The Qwerty keyboard, using two fingers and get rid of the “hunt and peck” method.
- Business machines (copier/fax/calculator/computer) – Copier functions, changing toner, fixing jams, fax functions, a 10-key calculator and how it functions, and basic computer IT skills (restarting, clearing stalled programs, saving and finding documents, adding and removing software).
- Basic filing skills – Hard copy AND electronic. Know the alphabet when filing, the proper way to file, creating good document names and folders when filing electronically.
- General office behavior – What not to wear at work, don’t waste your day on Facebook, organizational skills, basic office common courtesies, respect your co-workers and managers, and good customer service skills.
These are the basics that, in my humble opinion, are sorely lacking with the current generation of admins. The skills are still needed… but we need to bring them back to the class room!!
I need to write an “old school” secretarial manual.
I wonder how THAT would go over??