ASSOCIATION OF 

ADMINISTRATIVE PROFESSIONALS

NEW ZEALAND INC.

Te Kawarangi


Blog

  • 14 Mar 2019 8:30 AM | Alison McKessar (Administrator)

    Group Election of Officers meetings are coming around again so I have re-published my blog about why you should put your hand up for a position on the Group Management Team (GMT).

    Unfortunately, many groups run with a bare minimum of GMT members where only a few do all the work to keep the group functioning and delivering meetings and events for all its members. Eventually, this can be exhausting. There is some truth in the old adage that many hands make light work and the more people on the GMT, the less work that needs to be done by any one individual. This is especially helpful when we are all working in a voluntary capacity and most of us are already in very demanding jobs.

    The group needs you!

    It goes without saying that the most obvious reason is that a group cannot survive without a GMT. At the least, it needs a President, Finance Officer and Membership Officer. In the ideal world, there should also be a Vice-President, Meetings Coordinator, Admin Officer, Sponsorship Coordinator and Newsletter/Social Media Officer and a couple of general members who can do ad hoc tasks and pick up projects such as helping to organise Administrative Professionals Day.

    Gain new skills

    Joining the GMT may give you an opportunity to try your hand at a skill that you don’t get in your day job. For instance, I know people who have taken on the finance role because they don’t have any accounting functions in their work role. It’s amazing how many PA/EA roles these days require you to do some basic accounts work, such as budgets and reconciliations, and taking on the Finance Officer role is a great way to gain these skills. The same can be said of many of the other GMT positions, such as minute taking, project and event management, leading a team, etc.  As National President I have been lucky to attend many professional development and networking opportunities and am learning so much. I make a point of sharing any new information with my manager and colleagues, as well the National Executive Team (NET) so that many people benefit in turn.

    Transferable skills

    I think it would be safe to say that every position on the GMT provides you with meaningful transferable skills to enhance your CV. As noted in the paragraph above, tasks such as project and event management, basic accounting, budgeting, minute taking, running a meeting, leading a team, problem solving, report writing, planning, working to deadlines; they’re all things that turn up in position descriptions. Having these things on your CV already may give you the edge over your competitors for your dream job. I know people who have acquired great jobs because of the skills they learnt on the GMT.

    Boost your CV

    Every skill and relevant experience that you can add to your CV, or discuss at your next performance appraisal, adds to enhancing you as an employee. It may mean you are considered for a new work project, or increase your chances of a pay rise or new job. In addition, being actively involved in your professional development association not only shows that you are serious about your career and professional development but also indicates that you are a motivated individual who is prepared to ‘muck in’ and get things done.

    Self-confidence

    Taking on a role with the GMT is a safe place to stretch your administrative muscle. There will be others on the GMT, or within the group, who can mentor you in your learning new skills. If you take on a role you already have experience with, you could be the mentor for someone else who is learning. Of course, there is that amazing feeling of a job well done and the satisfaction that you are giving back to your Association. There’s also a lot of pride in knowing that you are helping the group to tick along. The feeling of fulfillment I get when the NET comes up with a tangible solution or brings an idea to fruition is exhilarating, especially when it's something that will directly benefit AAPNZ members.

    Camaraderie

    There’s nothing quite like being in a team of people working towards a common goal. You will meet every month and get to know the other team members really well. I, and I know of several others, have formed life-long friendships with people I worked alongside on the GMT. I looked forward to GMT meetings where I could spend time with these people, working hard for the beginning and then having a laugh together over coffee/wine and a snack. I look forward to the NET meetings in the same way. Yes, there’s a massive agenda with some rather challenging topics, but we make sure there are chocolate biscuits and lots of laughter to get us through. There are several ways you can make meetings feel less onerous and building friendships is just the start.

    These reasons are just my musings on why being on the GMT is a good idea. If you speak to your current or past GMT members, they may have other things to add.

    So, if you are thinking about it, or even haven’t been thinking about it until now, be brave and put your hand up and get that nomination form in! Join your GMT and contribute to your professional Association. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

  • 12 Dec 2018 8:53 AM | Alison McKessar (Administrator)

    So, what happened with the survey information you provided for the WASummit?

    The future of work questions fed into the New Zealand presentation on technology and the future for admin. We had a whopping 142 responses to this questionnaire! Thank you!

    There are only 24% of NZ administrators who are worried about the future, with the clear majority in the 41-50+ age bracket. Thirty-seven percent are excited with 35% feeling confident. This is excellent news. Other countries are not faring quite the same and there is a lot of angst about how technology, AI especially, will affect the profession. Case in point, one of the delegates from Spain had recently been laid off due to technological advances.

    It is pleasing to note that no-one believed that the role would disappear or be performed entirely by machines. Just over half (54%) think that the role will be combined with other roles and the remainder see the role collaborating with technology or being completely different.

    Three quarters of NZ administrators report putting in an effort of 7-8 (with 10 being the highest) towards developing new skills to assist with work in the future. There is also significant effort going into sharing information, building new networks, finding new ways to work smarter and new ways to contribute, learning the technology, undertaking training and being innovative (all areas where AAPNZ can help!). Where the effort is more spread (ie, less effort) is in the areas of reading about digitisation, AI and technology, engaging in social media, participating in mentorship programmes and benchmarking against other administrative professionals.

    The takeaway from the survey is that NZ administrative professionals certainly need to make more of an effort to educate themselves about technology – read every article you come across about it! I will try to include more such articles and links in the National President newsletter in future.

    With regard to the workplace harassment questionnaire, we received far fewer responses. The results show that 95% of NZ administrative professionals have witnessed workplace bullying during their career, with 68% reporting that they had been the victim of bullying.

    For sexual harassment, half of respondents had witnessed this behaviour, with half also having been the target of such unwanted attention. 

    Respondents were asked to rate how big a problem workplace bullying is in New Zealand (with 10 being the highest). The average came out at a 6, which is actually pleasingly low. It helps that NZ has fairly robust legislation in place for the protection of people at work.

    A total of 59% of respondents agree that the trauma of bullying lasts forever, with 32% agreeing that the trauma lasts for several years.

    Respondents were asked to suggest three anti-harassment initiatives they might introduce if they were the CEO. Of course there was a large list of activities, although there were some common themes:

    • Communication
    • Counseling
    • Reporting of incidents
    • Open door policies for staff to talk in a safe environment
    • Training for both staff and managers
    • Workshops on bullying
    • Zero tolerance

    We also surveyed members with regard to the identity and image of the profession. The statistics for respondents generally reflected the make up of the AAPNZ membership, in that the majority were in the 41-50 and 50-60 age bracket. Respondents were well educated with 30% having achieved a National Certificate or Diploma and 16% with degrees.

    Respondents were asked to provide words that come to mind when thinking about the administrative profession. There were 73 different words, although as expected, there were some repeated ones. These were: professional (16 times), undervalued (9 times), organised (6 times), skilled/multi-skilled (5 times), go-to person (4 times) with reliable, supportive, helpful, efficient and confidential each mentioned three times. Personally, I think this displays a really positive self-assessment of the profession in New Zealand!

    Respondents overwhelmingly perceived their role as being extremely valuable (68%) or valuable (25%) – a total of 93%. This portrays a good, healthy self-esteem. The perception of management for administrative professionals was also relatively positive with the majority (43%) reporting that they believed management felt their role was very valuable and 17% reporting as extremely valuable. However, 32% rated management’s perception as only somewhat valuable which does raise some concern. In terms of the perception of other people within an organisation assistants believe they are not seen as being as valuable as they believe they actually are. The category of ‘somewhat valuable’ was selected by almost half (45%) of respondents. Having said that, the extremely valuable (13%) and very valuable (25%) were not too far behind.

    Results from the feelings about the image of the profession were very positive. A total of 70% agree or strongly agree that the profession has a good image. Seventy-two percent agree or strongly agree that there are significant differences in the way the profession is viewed in different countries (which is the case, given what we heard at the WASummit) and 90% agreed or strongly agreed that there are significant differences in perception within different industries.

    The results were more spread for the question of whether respondents believe their organisation has a good understand of their role. Fifty-eight percent agreed or strongly agreed with 20% feeling neutral and 17% disagreeing. Managers’ appreciation of contribution scored better with 75% agreeing or strongly agreeing.

    Salaries was another question that showed a spread of opinion. Twenty-six percent of respondents disagree that they are being paid appropriately for their skills, with 23% feeling neutral. Thirty-five percent of respondents agree with only a quarter strongly agreeing that they are adequately remunerated.

    Pleasingly, 77% of respondents are proud to tell people they’re an administrative professional. 

    With regard to the career path and position descriptions survey, we had a total of 45 responses. The most common job role/title for administrative professionals in organisations within New Zealand is Office/Team Administrator (33%).

    Respondents stated they were required to work a reasonable number of hours (93% agreeing or strongly agreeing). They felt they had the skills to fulfil their responsibilities (91% agreeing or strongly agreeing) and they believed their work is appreciated (78% agreeing or strongly agreeing).

    Administrative professionals said they were happy with their opportunities for professional growth (67% agreeing or strongly agreeing). They felt they understood the skills needed to advance (76% agreeing or strongly agreeing) and believe administrative professionals can advance in their current organisation (35% agreed or strongly agreed). The small percentage indicated in the last result might indicate the difference in employer; public sector vs private business.

    Leadership (64%), Management (62%) and Business technology (49%) were the top three skills respondents wanted in order to continue their advancement.

    Seventy percent of respondents felt satisfied with their career progression so far. Fifty-seven percent intend to continue their career with their current organisation, whilst a slightly larger number (64%) indicated they may need to change role/employers to advance their career.

    Respondents indicated that actively engaging their manager in discussions regarding their career goals (53%), developing a career plan (51%), and seeking clarity on next possible career steps (49%) would improve or accelerate their career development.

    Fifty-two percent of respondents indicated their job description accurately showed the skills needed for the job, 51% indicated it gave them a precise idea of what was expected, whilst 40% said their job description did not help them with succession planning or career progression.

    An alarming, but not surprising, 82% of respondents indicated their organisation did not have a career ladder for their role. Results indicate that 50% of respondents felt more engaged because their organisation has a career ladder for them whilst 50% indicated they may need to change employers to climb the career ladder. This was the only question that had an even split in responses for and against, with a large number indicating they were neutral.  This completely contradicted the previous outcome and perhaps indicates a big difference between public sector employees and those in private business. 

     

  • 8 Oct 2018 9:24 AM | Sherie Pointon (Administrator)


    "In today’s culture of de-cluttering and enhanced social responsibility, I can’t think of a gift more personal and satisfying than the opportunity to donate to a charity (or charities) which resonates for you."

    Alison McKessar, National President of the Association of Administrative Professionals NZ didn't want the usual 'clichéd' thank you gifts for their national conference and AGM this year.

    And she says they found the perfect gift in The Good Registry's Good Gift Cards.

    The Association of Administrative Professionals NZ Inc (AAPNZ) held its 2018 Annual National Conference and 45th Annual General Meeting at Te Papa in Wellington in August.

    "Many of the presenters we had were seasoned professionals who, no doubt, will have received countless clichéd thank you gifts in the past. We didn’t want to give out bottles of wine that might not be consumed (what if we gave them Sauvignon Blanc, and they only drink reds?!) and we certainly didn’t want to gift things that might cause issues with luggage weight or questions from Customs for our international visitor," Alison said.

    "Early on in the planning of our conference, our 1st National Vice-President suggested The Good Registry as a great alternative to unwanted thank you gifts. I instantly loved the idea and had seen it done at another conference I’d attended. Not only did it save us from trying to decide what to buy people that was meaningful but we got to support whichever charity was close to our presenters’ hearts.

    "When I gave away the first Good Gift Card to our presenter and explained how it worked, I could hear the noises of surprise and approval from our audience. Every presenter who received a Good Gift Card expressed what a fantastic gift it was; so much more personal than a bottle of wine or bunch of flowers could ever be."

    Alison said their international keynote speaker, who had flown from Dubai for the conference, was totally blown away.

    "She said that it was the best thank you gift she’d ever been given and she would be investigating whether similar businesses existed in other countries." 

    "For AAPNZ, and for me in particular, the knowledge that we were thanking our presenters with gifts that would benefit other people or animals and organisations provided a real sense of accomplishment and ‘paying it forward’. The fact that the gift card recipients could choose from many different charities also made the gifts so much more personal and important for them, too."

    • You can find out more about The Good Registry's Good Gift Cards, and why they are the perfect gift, here - or buy one right now, here
    • AAPNZ Inc is a not-for-profit, voluntary national association that provides professional development and recognition to people in administrative roles. There are hundreds of different titles for those who work in administrative-based roles and these include executive assistants, personal assistants, administration managers, co-ordinators, receptionists, call centre operators, accounts staff, school secretaries, industry trainers, etc — anyone involved either full- or part-time in administrative roles, in any industry. Administrators from all types of businesses in New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and even other parts of the world, join AAPNZ Inc for opportunities to learn and grow in their role, develop contacts and get a better understanding of how important their role is to any business.
    • Photo courtesy of Kylie Cornwell, norma and me photography 

    This article first featured on The Good Registry blog, and the AAPNZ Conference has also featured in The Good Registry October Newsletter.

       
  • 10 May 2018 10:17 AM | Alison McKessar (Administrator)

    I came across this article from the Harvard Business Review about enhancing the experience of networking. If you dread networking, I would recommend you make yourself comfortable and have a read (make sure you get to the very last question - it's a beauty!). Alternatively, these questions are a great way to break the ice at a Group meeting – Group Presidents: try choosing a question or two for the start of your meetings!

    Eight questions to ask someone other than “what do you do?”

    By David Burkus (best-selling author and Associate Professor of Leadership and Innovation at Oral Roberts University.)


    We’ve all been in the awkward situation of meeting someone new and having to build rapport quickly — at networking events, industry conferences, charity events, dinner parties, and other social-professional situations. If you’re like many people — especially most Americans — you break the awkward silence with a pretty standard question:

    “So, what do you do?”

    But that question might not be the best way to build rapport with someone else. In fact, it may be best to avoid talking about work entirely.

    Research findings from the world of network science and psychology suggests that we tend to prefer and seek out relationships where there is more than one context for connecting with the other person. Sociologists refer to these as multiplex ties, connections where there is an overlap of roles or affiliations from a different social context. If a colleague at work sits on the same non-profit board as you, or sits next to you in spin class at the local gym, then you two share a multiplex tie. We may prefer relationships with multiplex ties because research suggests that relationships built on multiplex ties tend to be richer, more trusting, and longer lasting. We see this in our everyday lives: The work friend who is also a “friend friend” is far more likely to stick with you should one of you change jobs. And it goes the other way, too: People who have at least one real friend at work report liking their jobs more.

    Which brings us back to the problem of using “So, what do you do?” as your opener.

    Assuming you’re already at a work-related networking event or meeting another person in a work context, the question quickly sets a boundary around the conversation that the other person is now a “work” contact. It’s possible you might discover another commonality and build a multiplex tie, but it’s far less likely to happen in that conversation.

    Instead, consider beginning your introductory questions with something deliberately non-work-related and trusting that the context of the meeting will eventually steer the conversation back to work-related topics. Toward that end, here’s a few questions you could start with that will leave you more likely to find multiple commonalities and turn your new contacts into a multiplex tie — and maybe even a friend:

    What excites you right now? This is a question that has a wide range of possible answers. It gives others the ability to give with a work-related answer, or talk about their kids, or their new boat, or basically anything that excites them.

    What are you looking forward to? This question works for the same reason, but is more forward-looking than backward-looking, allowing others to choose from a bigger set of possible answers. 

    What’s the best thing that happened to you this year? Similar to the previous two, but reversed: more backward-looking than forward-looking. Regardless, it’s an open-ended question that gives others a wealth of answers to choose from.

    Where did you grow up? This question dives into others’ backgrounds (but in a much less assertive and loaded way than “Where are you from?”) and allows them to answer with simple details from childhood or to engage in their story of how they got to where they are right now and what they’re doing.

    What do you do for fun? This question steers the conversation away from work, unless of course they are lucky enough to do for work what they’d be doing for fun anyway. Even then, it’s understood as a non-work question and the most likely answers will probably establish non-work ties.

    Who is your favorite superhero? This might seem random, but it’s one of my favorites. Occasionally, asking this question has led me to bond over the shared love of a character, but more often you’ll find a shared connection or two in the reason for why the other person chose that particular character…or why they’re not really into superheroes.

    Is there a charitable cause you support? Another big, open-ended question (assuming they support at least one charitable cause). It’s important to define support as broader than financial donations, as support might be in the form of volunteering or just working to raise awareness. You’re also really likely to either find shared ground or find out about a cause you didn’t know about.

    What’s the most important thing I should know about you? This one is effective for similar reasons as many of the above, plus it gives the broadest possible range from which they can choose. It can come off as a little forthright, so when to use it depends on a lot of contextual clues.

    Regardless of which question you choose, the important thing is to ask a question open-ended enough to allow others to select non-work answers if they choose. Doing so will increase the chances that you didn’t just turn a stranger into a new contact on your phone, but that you actually made a new friend.

    Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua, suggests these additional questions. I am loving the last one!

    David / River / Adele / Martha / Storm [insert person’s name] – what a great name! How did you come to get such a nice name? Let’s face it, when given the opportunity and an attentive audience, most of us will happily gab on about our name and its origin. It’s a topic where we’re definitely on home ground, in the driver’s seat, well within our comfort zone.

    So [insert name] what keeps you awake at night – this is an excellent question as it can be interpreted either personally or professionally. It might lead into a very deep chat about personal anxieties and fear or it might focus on how the other person is going to break into that new account. Either way you’ve affording the person the opportunity to choose how much or how little to share with you.

    Can I introduce myself? I’ve challenged myself to go out and meet new people – this is a great conversation starter that hints at the awkwardness we all feel in networking situations. Asked in this way it becomes an invitation to share in the awkwardness and that, in turn, takes the awkwardness out of the situation.

  • 11 Apr 2018 9:38 PM | Sherie Pointon (Administrator)


    Click on the article to open a pdf version.

  • 11 Apr 2018 9:25 PM | Sherie Pointon (Administrator)

    On Saturday, 17 February, the National Executive Team held its face-to-face meeting at the Grand Mercure on The Terrace in Wellington.

    The Grand Mercure Wellington has recently been refurbished and it shows. Reception is beautiful with lovely couches and chairs.

    The hotel is easy to find and offers valet parking. We met in The Boardroom on the 2nd floor. The plus sides of this room are that it’s very private and has its own heat pump (or air conditioning as we used it for) with a remote. The room is an internal one so does not have any windows. You could argue that this is a downside, however it does allow for total concentration on your meeting. The decoration is tasteful and the chairs are very comfortable. I suspect that the hotel gym may be above the Boardroom as there were the occasional thumps and bumps. Just outside the door, you can look down on the hotel pool which looked lovely. Overall the room certainly met our purposes, although if you use it for an all day meeting, make sure you get out and about at lunchtime. It’s perfect for a half day where you need privacy and focus.

    One of the standouts about the Grand Mercure is its staff. Everyone we dealt with was really helpful and cheerful, especially in the restaurant. We nipped up to the café to order morning coffee and they offered to bring it down to the Boardroom so we didn’t have to wait around. I might add that the coffee was good, too. They also offered to bring us a lunch menu so that we could pre-order what we wanted and not have to wait at lunchtime. The food was divine and the wine list was good (as was the wine).

    The view from the restaurant, Forage, was an angle on Wellington I’d not had before and as such was really interesting.

    I was jealous of the three NET members who got to stay the night. The rooms looked beautiful and I’m assured they were very comfortable with gorgeous linen on the bed. The view was also superb.


     

     


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