Extenders:The new term for the gatekeepers of the office

I recently had the pleasure of serving as one of the MCs at the latest Q1 Productions Executive Leadership Support Forum at the Hotel Chicago. During a panel discussion with an executive and his assistant, he mentioned that assistants extend themselves in many ways. For example, helping clients and customers by either providing a service directly or finding someone who can if it not within their power to help. This was a profound concept because for many years, administrative professionals have been regarded as the 'gatekeepers' of the office, implying that no one gets past them without proper clearance. With this new idea, everyone is given considerable attention until the task, inquiry, or problem is resolved.

Today, with the evolution of the administrative assistant due to the expansion of roles and job responsibilities, the term extender will do quite nicely. So, what exactly does an extender do differently from the gatekeeper?

  • Extending skills. Performing job tasks that are not in your current job description.
  • Extending knowledge base. Using internal and external resources to find solutions. 
  • Extending a hand. Helping a colleague accomplish a goal and complete a task. 
Many of you have already been acting as extenders and didn't realize it. Being an Extender means making connections inside and ouside the organization; to eliminate confusion, the Extender still has the subtitle of gatekeeper. Performing additional job duties are valuable points to bring up during the performance review. Adding someone to your extended network will pave the way for forging strong alliances. Lending a hand to a colleague will bridge workplace relationships that increase the productivity of the company. 

Extenders, as well as gatekeepers, are valuable company assets. 

The evolution of today's administrative professional

The evolution of the administrative professional is a development process that not only provides growth for the individual, but also for the industry.  By 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for administrative assistants will increase by 8 percent. In addition to a growing population of office personnel, job duties and responsibilities will also escalate, which will require more skills, experience, and education. Who would have thought that a job created over six decades ago to support male executives by answering phones, transcribing correspondence, greeting visitors, and of course, performing other duties as assigned would have the potential to grow into a managerial position?

The evolution involves a quick progression that simultaneously evolves with technology.  The more technology improves efficiency, the more productive we are expected to be which means additional responsibilities.  Today’s administrative professional has morphed into a diverse office employee who wears many hats, essentially running the office. In a recent article by The Atlantic, a successful Chicago office manager, Debra Leonard-Porch talks about her professional journey being a part of the evolution. Beginning her career as a receptionist, then to secretary, next as an executive assistant, and now office manager, her 35-year experience has added to the historical timeline of growth for today’s administrative professional. And since secretarial functions have become more administrative, the overall duties are to maintain the office and supervise activities.

The future is very bright for today’s administrative professional. There is a clear indication that this profession will continue to evolve in all industries and develop the people on its career path.
For more information about the career, certifications, and networking with others in the field, visit these professional development websites:

What day is it again? Oh yea, Administrative Professionals Day

If you walked around your office today and asked, “What day is it?” The response would undoubtedly be, “It’s Wednesday.” And that is correct, but many may have forgotten that today is also Administrative Professionals’ Day. All those except administrative professionals, of course. We know it as a day to celebrate those who make an impact by assuming managerial-like responsibilities in a work environment that nowadays, require more than just a typing skill and pleasant phone etiquette. Today is a day of recognition, did you get recognized? Some will say, “Yes, there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers sitting on my desk this morning.” “My boss took me to lunch today.”

The true admin celebrates their career every day, not just on April 22 or during the week of, but each and every day. Here 3 ways to have your own daily celebration:

1. Keep track of small victories as well as the big ones. A small victory is something that makes you feel good afterwards. For example, how many times have you caught a mistake before anyone else, especially the boss? How about the time you almost forgot to send the email without an attachment? These are worth celebrating because, although small in nature, you saved yourself and possibility the company public embarrassment. Good job!

2.     2. Reward yourself after completing a task before moving on to the next. I like this one because I am rewarding myself throughout the day. Rewards include: taking a 10-minute stretch break after sitting for hours, which studies show is not healthy by the way; have a piece of chocolate (my favorite), and a good ol’ fashioned internal pep talk “You did a great job!” Which leads to the next point...

3. Give yourself a self-PEP talk. How often do you have an internal conversation with yourself? I call it a “meeting of the mind.” Self-PEP talk builds confidence, rationalizes situations, and are critical. When I “meet with my mind,” I mentally replay the previous situation, think about why the outcome occurred, and how to react if it occurs again. My “meetings” always end on a positive note-ALWAYS! The more meetings you have, the more you are recording notes so that if and when similar situations arise (and they will) you will be ready because you have already analyzed, evaluated, and motivated yourself to be prepared. Now, that's worth celebrating. Time for a reward…

Today, may have been a day specifically designated for celebrating the efforts of those who lighten the burdens of others, but why not continue the celebration tomorrow and the next day, and the next day…

Have a happy administrative professionals day – everyday! 

Lack of emotional intelligence brings out the worst version of you

Jenny enjoyed her job, but didn't like the people. Her tolerance had grown thin and she was ready to quit. The interactions with her boss were the most challenging because she felt the meetings were counterproductive due to differences of views. Jenny left meetings feeling frustration, anxiety, and anger.

Jenny suffered from a low level of emotional intelligence and needed to do something to save her job and reputation before her emotions brought out the worst version of herself.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.


Join me on Wednesday, January 7 at 1 p.m. CST via webinar to find out how Jenny was able to increase her emotional intelligence and subdue her bad side.


#iaap #increaseEI

An exerpt from 365 Ways to Better Days....Day 134: Maximize your "hump hour"

It just so happens that in my book, 365 Ways to Better Days, today is Day 134 which is Wednesday, also known as 'hump day.' This tip is taken from the book, which talks about how to manage your 'hump hour.'

Day 134 Maximize your 'hump hour.'
‘Hump Day’ Wednesday is the day of the week which represents halfway completion of the work week. By Wednesday, we have recovered from the past weekend, become more energized and anticipating the upcoming weekend. ‘Hump hour’ is the time of day when you are most productive and focused. It could be after you have a cup of coffee before lunch. You may have focal points that occur several times throughout the day. Here are a few ways to be productive when your ‘hump hour’ arrives. 

The True Meaning of an Administrative Professional

This is the week for celebrating Administrative Professionals all over the world. Administrative Professionals Day began as Secretaries Day in 1952, a day proclaimed by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Charles Sawyer. Secretaries Day was an idea by C. King Woodbridge, president of Dictaphone Corporation, a member of a council that addressed the shortage of skilled office workers. The objective was to recognize "the secretary, upon whose skills, loyalty, and efficiency the functions of business and government offices depend," and to call attention "through favorable publicity, to the tremendous potential of the secretarial career." Boy, have secretaries come a long way.
Administrative Professionals do more than answer phones, greet customers, and transcribe meeting minutes. They serve as office managers, event planners, accounts payable clerks, and the list goes on. As you celebrate this week, think about the impact you make in your office.
  • Do clients and customers call and ask for you versus your supervisor?
  • Do you "work" on days off?
  • Are you accessible when you are away from the office via email, cell, text messaging?
  • Do you remind your supervisor of work that he needs to complete?
Did you answer 'yes' to any of the above? Congratulations! You are a company asset. Administrative Professionals are 'assets,' because without them, who would businesses depend on? By the way, if they weren't valuable, why is there a holiday recognizing their profession? In honor of the people who made this special occasion possible, give yourself a 'pat on the back.' You deserve it.



From New E-book, Working with Children of All Ages - Workplace Cliques

Thinking Inside the Sandbox
(An excerpt taken from my latest e-book, Working with Children of All Ages)

By the time we reach high school, there are some major changes happening. If puberty hasn't hit you by now, it will soon. Second, as official "teenage children", we are seeking those friendships that will later on end up defining who we are and how we behave. High school years are exciting and can be critical.

Remember what it was like when you met the person who would end up being a good friend even after high school? Now begins the formation of your "circle of friends" or what some may call a "clique." Cliques help mold us into the people we are today. It is human nature to want to belong, it’s a survival technique amongst animals, and gives us a sense of empowerment.  When we are around people who we feel are like us, can relate to use, and make us feel good about ourselves, it's like having your own paparazzi. Stereotypical cliques in high school were: the "smart ones" (they are called other names, for respect, we won't speak ill of the highly, intellectual crowd),  the popular girls and guys, jocks, cheerleaders, and the loners. The list goes on. The reality is that they grow up, get jobs, have families, and end up working with us.

It is not a far-fetched idea to relate high school to the workplace. They’re the same children, but in adult form.  Studies show that 43% of workers say that there are cliques in their office. Doesn't it feel like high school? The same group of people going out to eat lunch every day; the same people are standing by the water cooler talking about another co-workers outfit. Sounds like high school.

My mother would always tell me, "If it grow up in you, it's going to be in you," Old habits die hard. So why be surprised that your boss is acting like a jerk? Why wonder how could your co-worker spread gossip about others? Childlike behavior still lives in us, it's just hiding behind the adult. Doesn't Walt Disney base his success on the premise that there is a kid in all of us?

So, for the purpose of being having to work with the bullies, backstabbers, liars, "personal politicians," temper tantrum and other childlike behavior exhibitors, let's start thinking that the workplace is the "sandbox."  Phase 1. Thinking Inside the Sandbox is complete.

Now that we have changed our thinking, it's time to talk about how to deal with the little kiddies in the sandbox. Phase 2. Learn How to Play 

To be continued...