Tell Me Again - What Is It That You Do?

April 7, 2021


Does your HR Department understand your role? Does your job description even reflect what you do every day? Do you even have a job description? With Administrative Professionals month upon us, Admins the world over are in the spotlight. How long have we struggled in our industry to create awareness and understanding of what it is we actually do, to gain recognition and to show to executives and the business world the value that administrative professionals bring to the bottom line?

Research done by the World Administrators Summit (WA-Summit) came from our survey of around 3000 Admins across the globe and we published the International Position Titles Report. The input showed that there are over 160 different job titles for administrative professionals and many job titles mean different things dependent on your employer, sector or country.

One of the biggest factors causing ambiguity and confusion about the role of the administrative professional is poor position descriptions/job descriptions (PDs/JDs). Far too often, PDs/JDs written for administrative professionals fail to fully grasp the complexities of the roles and the numerous ways in which the administrative professional supports their executive/manager. In many cases, existing PDs/JDs are completely out of date, describing little more than the simplest routine, everyday tasks that have been performed by administrators for decades.

Inaccurate PDs/JDs too often contribute to a lack of understanding of the depth of the administrative professional role, which in turn leads to undervaluing the administrator in the organisation, ill-advised rationalisation of the administrator role in some organisations, equally ill-advised offshoring of business support functions and a general failure to make the most of the potential of the administrator.

So it’s no surprise that the outside world is confused about the role of the Administrative Professional. The Delegates at the WA-Summit determined that more clarity was needed, not just for Admins themselves, but also for Executives and HR Managers, so the Skills Set Matrix was born.

Created by a WA-Summit international task force, the Skills Set Matrix is a unifying framework that describes five levels of work, identifying the skills and tasks that fit each level, as you move from reactional tasks through transactional to strategic tasks. It shows career progression from entry level to the highest echelon. It shows what professional development you need to take you from one level to the next. This ground-breaking work has never been done before in our profession and we are very excited about the next steps.

Delegates at the 2018 WA-Summit have now given their feedback on the draft report of the Skills Set Matrix and it will be presented as final at the 2021 WA-Summit on 8th & 15th May. Once the report has been endorsed by the Delegates, we can start to share the Skills Set Matrix with the outside world. You will be able to see where you fit within the profession. The information will help you to determine a pathway for yourself, whether with your current employer, or elsewhere. The Skills Set Matrix is also to assist your Executive, your HR department and Recruiters to better understand the roles filled by Administrative Professionals, the structure and range of tasks within those roles and show a clear career pathway for those who wish to progress.

This framework is not intended to change position titles within your organisation or your country. It is aimed at clarifying what you do as an administrative professional, how you support and contribute to your employment. Now that’s something to shout about.


About the World Administrators Alliance

The World Administrators Alliance (WA-Alliance) is a non-profit trade association, representing Administrative Professional Associations, Networks and Individuals from across the globe. Our aims are to guide, influence, develop and elevate the Administrative Profession as well as to build a global community to enable Administrative Professionals the world over to speak with one voice. The WA-Alliance was established in 2020 as the new governing body for the WA-Summit and all its activities and opens for membership in 2021. There are three membership categories:

  • Administrative Professionals Associations and Networks from around the World.
  • Individual Administrative Professionals who (yet) have no Association or Network in their country.
  • Business Partners (All those affiliated to the development of the Administrative Profession, e.g. Trainers, Training Companies, Educational Institutes, Publishers, Professional Development Organizations).


About the World Administrators Summit

World Administrators Summit (WA-Summit) is the most prestigious international gathering of leaders for the administrative profession globally. The first WA-Summit was held in 1996 and was organised every two to four years. Now a bi-annual event, the WA-Summit brings together the best and brightest minds in the administrative profession today and provides the international platform for peer-to-peer discussion regarding relevant topics that potentially impact those working in the administrative profession. The WA-Summit is not a conference, but a working meeting at which delegates from around the world develop credible outcomes that are shared globally. The outcomes from each summit also contribute to our World Action Plan entitled Administra, a set of guidelines for Administrative Professional Associations, Networks and Individuals. The 11th World Administrators Summit will be a virtual event, held on 8 and 15 May 2021. Around 60 delegates from 27 countries are expected, collectively they represent more than 200.000 Administrative Professionals. The 12th WA-Summit will be a face-to-face event, held in Nashville, Tennessee, USA in July 2022.

By Helen Monument, Interim Chair, World Administrators Alliance

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