Study Reveals Strong Ties Between Support Staff and Their Managers

MENLO PARK, CA -- Behind nearly every great leader is an equally great support staff, which is why many managers take time to recognize their assistants during Administrative Professionals Week (April 23-29, 2006).  In a recent research study published by OfficeTeam in collaboration with the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), 87 percent of managers said they believe they do an excellent job of recognizing their administrative staff’s contributions -- 76 percent of administrative professionals polled agreed.  Both groups also were in sync when weighing in on topics such as work/life balance and the increasing complexity of the administrative role.

OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals, and IAAP, the world’s largest association for administrative support staff, developed the study to examine the evolving relationship between managers and their support teams.  More than 250 managers and 300 administrative professionals were surveyed for the project.  The findings have been published in a booklet, Making It Click, released to coincide with Administrative Professionals Week, an annual event that highlights administrative employees’ contributions to the workplace. 

“Administrative professionals are well-positioned to take on expanded responsibilities involving project management, communication, use of office technology and other vital business functions,” said Kay Enlow CPS/CAP, 2005-06 international president of IAAP.  “In today’s fast-paced, high-tech workplaces, it’s more important than ever that an administrative professional and manager maintain a strong partnership, one that makes the best use of the assistant’s skills in support of the organization.”

Evolving Roles
Managers and employees agree the administrative support role has evolved.  Eighty-six percent of both groups said duties have grown more complex over the past two years, and now include activities such as client relationship management, budget tracking, event planning, database management, research and training, desktop publishing, project management, and computer support. 

This trend is likely to continue -- 82 percent of administrative employees polled said they want to assume more responsibility.  Likewise, 70 percent of managers feel they could better utilize their assistants’ skills and abilities.  

According to those surveyed, administrative professionals must possess the following attributes in order to excel in the role:

  • The ability to manage and prioritize multiple projects
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Computer and Internet skills
  • An understanding of the organization and its challenges
  • Teamwork skills

“The study reveals the highly collaborative relationship between managers and support staff,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam.  “These roles have become increasingly interdependent, particularly as administrative workers have assumed greater responsibilities.  Both groups are willing to go the extra mile to create a healthy, productive dynamic that enables them to meet business and professional goals.”

Sufficient Time and Tools
Approximately nine out of 10 managers and eight out of 10 administrative professionals said the volume of work assigned to support staff is manageable.  Moreover, 93 percent of supervisors said they foster a workplace where support staff are able to balance work and personal responsibilities; 84 percent of administrative personnel agreed. 

Strong majorities of both groups also felt administrative professionals are provided sufficient office resources, education and training.  However, administrative workers may have to speak up to get what they need.  Seventy-four percent of managers said they have improved their ability to proactively provide critical office tools, but only 34 percent of administrative staff agreed.

Constant Communication
Ensuring adequate information flow is an essential part of the administrative function -- and it’s one in which most support personnel appear to excel.  Ninety-four percent of managers and 84 percent of administrative professionals surveyed rated their communication with each other as good or excellent. 

Positive relationships may help facilitate an open dialogue.  Nine out of 10 managers said they have taken steps in the past year to get to know their support staff on a personal level.   

Kudos Common
When it comes to praising administrative staff, the sentiment is genuine.  Ninety-six percent of managers surveyed agreed that they value their assistants’ contributions.  Ninety percent of administrative professionals felt the same.

The most prevalent method for recognizing support staff, according to both groups, is an in-person thank-you.  Putting in a good word to upper management is the second most common way supervisors show their appreciation, the study found.

OfficeTeam is the world’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled administrative and office support professionals.  The company has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at  

The International Association of Administrative Professionals is the world’s largest association for administrative support staff, with nearly 600 chapters and approximately 40,000 members and affiliates worldwide.  For more information,

Note to Editor:  Charts with survey findings can be found using the links below.  Please contact Abby Goodman to obtain a copy of the full report. 

Evolving Roles and Essential Skills

Time, Tools and Training

Communication Between Support Staff and Managers

Recognition Efforts

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