Improving Office Management Skills
Whether we like it or not, administrative and office management tasks will follow us for the rest of our careers. These skills are applicable in any job, hence why it is crucial to develop them. Admin and office management skills are widespread and adaptable, which makes them extremely useful in pursuing a number of careers.
Admin and office management skills refer to efficiently organising, managing and administering the office and workplace environment. This includes both personnel, office equipment and software systems. To break it down, these tasks can include organising department objectives and policies, recruiting and employing staff, being in charge of overall communications, managing meetings, producing agendas, taking care of financial budgets and filing systems, to name a few.
As in many jobs, individuals working in this field need to deal with a certain level of bureaucracy and ordinary day-to-day tasks. In fact, even a high-ranking diplomat such as Madeleine Albright has to spend a lot of time doing paperwork and research. This requires the person to be responsible, accurate and patient. As such, developing admin and office management skills can be very useful when diplomats need to keep track of emails with high stature individuals, organising visits, handling departmental or project budgets and managing staff. This also demands having excellent time and information management skills, to be able to strategically prioritise and manage a large and diverse workload.
There are many tips and tricks on how to develop these skills. The most obvious one would be to go through a general overview of administrative systems and office procedures. This can be done through a number of ways, such as learning how to use relevant softwares (Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for example), to going over an office manual. Learning about specific procedures and operations will maximise efficiency and enhance consistency and accountability within the organisation. Learning to be organised is a soft skill that requires practice. Keep a colour coded system on digital diaries, for example, when arranging meetings so that you can stay on top of the most important meetings that require further organisation, such as preparing agendas, to chasing other delegates to confirm the meetings. Below is an example of such a visual system.
Another important skill in administrative and office management, is the managing of budgets. Every organisation in the world is constrained by a certain budget, being able to accurately record office expenditure and judge the amount of resources needed is crucial. This skill can be acquired by being clear about your goals, planning for various scenarios and tracking everything. Here, software knowledge will definitely come in handy - spreadsheets can make the process easier and less time consuming.
In addition, knowing how to write well and quickly is a skill particularly important for careers in this field. This is essential, since diplomats are regularly faced with analysing, interpreting and producing forecasts on international policies and trends. Knowing how to type fast and efficiently can be a game-changer and there are many free online websites that offer the chance to practice.
All in all, being able to master these skills will not only allow you to excel in administration and office management in the context of diplomacy, but also help you improve other competencies such as leadership, judgement, decision-making and managing performance.