By Chally Kacelnik
Admin is vastly undervalued in organisations. By this I mean both administration staff and administration processes. It’s often seen as low skilled or inconsequential work, when really it’s finely detailed work that keeps everything moving. It requires a lot of concentration, detailed knowledge of processes and systems, and often lots of institutional knowledge.
Years ago, I was working on a review of one client organisation’s customer-facing processes, to one manager’s bemusement. As far as he was concerned, the customer service officers’ job was to “just answer the phones”. No wonder the customer service officers weren’t thought of when it came to the annual office Christmas party – there was no coverage for them, so they so never got to participate. That’s really symbolic:
- Of the lack of value placed on these workers and their roles
- How they weren’t seen as doing the real work of the organisation and therefore weren’t seen as deserving of those real moments of celebration
- Of a view that customer service itself was off on the side, belonging to this team, rather than the core thing that the organisation had to deliver, something touching all teams
No wonder also that admin and customer-facing staff often report being yelled at or mistreated in ways that people would never dream of doing to workers seen as higher status.
If you’re not foregrounding admin people and work in your organisation, make a conscious effort to do so. They enable everything an organisation does.