Will April 25th be much like any other work day in your office, or is it a day when colleagues extend extra recognition to you and other assistants?
Administrative Professionals Day 2018: What’s it all about?
I love writing for an international audience, in no small part because Weekend Polls such as this one provide opportunities for all of us to benefit from insight of one another’s experiences.
This weekend, for example, I’m once again asking for your views on Admin. Professionals Day. It’s officially celebrated on April 25th this year but, in fact, the period from April 22nd to 28th is proclaimed Administrative Professionals Week (APW).
If you’re one of my readers from a country other than Canada, South Africa or the USA, you may wonder what the fuss is all about. It won’t be a surprise to many of you to know that I’m in the same camp. Take a minute to do an online search for national days marking careers in accounting, health care and so on. You’ll typically find a focus on professional development, and not imagery or advertising for chocolates, cards and flowers – however appealing they may be.
Developmental opportunities as a tangible benefit
I do, however, view the potential for developmental opportunities as a worthwhile outcome of such a tradition. As mentioned in an earlier post, I’ll be one of a few trainers you know who will be presenting at APC Canada’s 19th annual conference in Toronto next week.
IAAP, the International Association of Administrative Professionals, has sponsored Administrative Professionals Week (APW) since 1952. Yes, you read that correctly, and I wonder how many of you were even around at that point in time!
In 1952, IAAP was known as the National Secretaries Association. It launched this celebration in part to attract people to the career. IAAP is among a number of bodies and individuals who advocate recognition of Admin. Professionals Day and Week through provision of professional development.
I like the fact that IAAP members across borders are using the occasion to offer celebrations that are wrapped around educational seminars. If you’re based in either downtown or suburban Chicago, for example, you may gearing up for a full day of events on May 5th. The IAAP Joint Chicago LANs are hosting a Teamwork and Technology Full Day Seminar. This is just one example, and there are many more.
People in other countries celebrate EAs and PAs through awards competitions
While celebrations will occur in North America next week, practices can vary from one office or company to another.
Assistants living in other continents are more likely to turn to awards and recognition programs to celebrate talent. In England, the Manchester PA Awards is an incredibly impressive example of peers recognising “support professionals who have exceeded expectations and exemplify hard work, dedication and passion within their roles.”
I’ve not yet attended one of the Manchester PA Awards events, but I have presented to an impressive group of these Mancunians, and respect the Manchester PA Network’s focus on professional growth.
Take a look at their website, and you’ll see that these Brits have 13 award categories for individual and team excellence. They even have an award for business leaders, and another to recognise one of the UK’s many other strong networks!
Again, this is just one example of assistants helping elevate the career and one another.
What employers think
I know some executives/principals who genuinely want to express appreciation for the skills and dedication assistants bring to the role. Some mark the occasion with support of professional development, typically initiated by the assistant or a group of assistants. Others offer up cards, flowers, chocolates or lunch as a gesture of appreciation – or they’ll ask their assistant to organise such tokens of appreciation for a team of staff.
Some executives, however, take a different view. They may dislike being told when or how to express their appreciation for a job well done. Others simply treat the event as they would any other work day.
Greeting Card Companies’ Perspectives
I’ve written in past years about my frustration with what I consider patronising messages and imagery contained in greeting cards designed for the event. Suffice to say that cards run the gamut from sincere to sincerely stupid.
The Future of Admin. Professionals Day and Week
Might all be better served by a shift from the very well intended but sometimes patronising greeting card mentality to one that reflects the evolution of this career into a profession? Are you pleased with flowers and greeting cards, or would you prefer to increasingly direct focus to advocacy and professional development?
This leads us to the focus of this Weekend Poll:
What Do You Think of the Celebrations Associated With Admin. Professionals Day?
Please take a couple of minutes to complete the poll below. As always, I look forward to hearing what you have to say and will publish results next week. This builds on my 2016 and 2017 Weekend Polls on the same topic, and I’ll provide year-over-year comparisons in the results. A wee note: since I’ll be in front of three audiences of you or your peers during the week, it’ll be late in the week before I publish these results.