It’s starting to look serious out there. My timeline is full of people being let go. And whilst it is reminiscent of the last recession, it feels different because everything just changed for everyone and it’s not just about money this time.

However, there are some lessons we learned in the last recession, that apply today:

Firstly, companies initially ‘let go’ of many assistants. That was until they realised how much they needed you and hired many of you back. It’s cyclical. Especially now, businesses need their executives to be faster, leaner, smarter and more efficient. That is where you come in. You tame the chaos and enable your executives to free up their time to do what they are being paid to do, which in many cases right now is reinventing the way your entire business runs. They need you and the hours that you give them back. So, if you are one of the assistants that has just been let go, bide your time. It will come.

Now is the time to upskill. The second thing that we saw happen in the last recession is that many middle management were let go and you were asked to take on their work, with no pay rise, recognition or training. We are watching it happening all over again. What are the things that you don’t know that you need to know? If there is no money for pay rises right now then #AskForTraining. There is enough on-demand, inexpensive training out there currently that you can tap into, that there is no excuse not to do it. Keep a time audit of the things that you are doing, so that when you attend your next performance review, you are clear on where you took on more responsibility or added value.

And thirdly, when this all passes, the world is going to look like a different place, but one with opportunities for those of you that are looking to the future, rather than to the past. The reactive, task-based assistants will be gone, and the strategic business partners will thrive. Many of the businesses that we work with have told us that they realised some of their assistants were coasting.  Those businesses have let people go but are educating those that remain to the highest level, to understand the mind shift that is needed. The last recession opened the doors to assistants starting to be part of their businesses rather than ‘support’, and this current situation will complete the process. Do you understand your executive’s role in the business, their goals, their KPIs and what success looks like for them this year? Do you understand where your department fits into the rest of the business, who the stakeholders are and what makes them tick?  Do you know what your brand stands for, what products are being developed, who your competition is? Can you read and understand a budget? Do you know how to run a project or put together a briefing document? These things will be key to your future success. It’s time to step outside your comfort zone and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

We are absolutely committed to supporting you and the wider administrative professional community in any way that we can. Reach out if you need more information on any of our resources for those both in and out of work.

We’re with you every step of the way.


PS: It would be remiss of me not to draw your attention to Ayanna Castro’s exceptional cover story this month on Black Women and the Workplace, as well as to Jacqueline Smith’s thought-provoking article I am the Woman.

Additional resources on this subject include our free Racism in the Workplace panel #adminchat which you can find here:

Lucy Brazier, OBE is one of the world’s leading authorities on the administrative profession. Author of ‘The Modern-Day Assistant: Build Your Influence and Boost Your Potential’, she is the CEO of Marcham Publishing, a global force synonymous with world- ... (Read More)

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