How do you become a good administrator?

Administration is a part of most industries these days. A good administrator or administration team can be the difference between the success and failure of a product or service. But what makes a good administrator compared to a bad one?

A good administrator is organised, methodical, and thorough. Good administrators are typically very good at reading, writing and/or typing, and communicating with others. They have a critical role in keeping a team or business on track to achieve success. They are great at processing information.

So, those are a few things that make a good administrator. But there’s more to it than that. A good way to think about how to be a good administrator is, rather than think about the role of administrator, think about the skills of administration. What skills and tasks does an administrator do and what can they benefit from being good at?

Practise reading and writing

A large amount of administration is based on reading and writing. So, if you aren’t good at it practise. You need to be good at reading to take in information and you need to be good at writing to express information. These are vital skills when it comes to communication.

A good way to think about this is think about reading in terms of processing. Reading doesn’t have to just be reading words. You have to read all sorts of things: numbers, symbols, implied meaning, graphs, data, and more.

You could think about writing in terms of creating. It isn’t just using a pen or pencil. It’s using a keyboard, creating a presentation, producing a flow diagram, making a spreadsheet, and other ways to present information.

In short, practise taking information in and sharing information out.

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Practise typing (and get fast)

In most administrative roles these days you are probably going to be required to type. So, practise typing and get fast. This doesn’t mean that you have to be able to work at this pace all the time. It just means that when you need to type fast you know you will be able to. You will basically be creating yourself a cushion and some breathing room when it comes to being able to complete tasks and meet deadlines.

The aim overtime is going to be able to touch type. If you can touch type you can essentially type without looking. If you can do this you will put yourself in a good position to process and manage your workload comfortably without feeling the stress or pressure.

Have a good telephone voice

Not every administrator is going to need to use the phone, but the majority are. Having a good telephone voice and being able to communicate with people over the phone is just another thing that is going to help you be able to do your job more easily.

Here is a link to a specific JAWS Job Search article on having a good telephone voice.

The main things are take conversations one step at a time, be clear and relaxed, and work with the person you are talking to to make progress.

Be organised and systematic

When you are an administrator you will often have to handle multiple processes and tasks at once. So, you need to be organised. You need to be systematic. Because then you create a work flow for yourself that allows you to be versatile, adaptable, and able to switch from one thing to another easily.

Some examples of how to be organised and system could be:

  • Keep your work station and office in order – making sure everything has a home. (Many people will call this having good house keeping).
  • Have a specific way that tasks need to be done. If you are part of a team share this with them and establish a ‘best practise’. You can even create documents that outline processes so that new members to your team can more easily learn how to do things or other members of staff can pick up jobs if someone is off on holiday or with sickness.
  • Use established systems. Put things in alphabetical order. Recognise that colours have meanings and are used in various environments in particular ways; for example, red means danager, green means positivity.

There are a whole bunch of ways to be organised and systematic. The most important aspect of this is to make sure that others are aware about what you are doing and why. In order to develop collective and team understanding you need to share and collaborate.

Stay on top of your emails

Create folders. Create subfolders. Where possible create automatically filing of emails. It’s going to make handling communication that much easier.

The worst thing you can do is ignore your emails because it just means they are going to pile up.

There are loads of functions you can use to track and manage them too. Colour code them. Flag them. Learn the short cuts and tracking systems of your email software so that you can get the best out of it.

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Manage the diary

It doesn’t matter if your diary is on paper or on the computer. If you have a diary that needs sharing on a computer keep it up to date so your colleagues can work more collaboratively with you.

In a fast paced or even a slow paced environment time is precious. Time is a window of opportunity that you can take advantage of. And the best way to do that is to plan and plot how you are going to spend it.

Make notes

Making notes is great. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. As humans there is only so much information we as individuals are capable of storing. Not only that, but it takes a lot of skill and practise to learn how to store lots of information. So, make notes.

Get a note pad. Use your phone. Use a software on your computer. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to make notes. Just make good quality notes that you can go away from and come back to later and they still make sense.

A good administrator definitely makes notes. Making notes is actually a great way to support the development of your memory as well.

Set targets, make a checklist

Lots of the time we think of targets being linked to things like sales, signups, or finances. But targets can be used in relation to all sorts of things.

As an administrator it’s useful to set targets in relation to things like completing tasks.

A typical way that an administrator will set targets is by making a checklist of tasks. Then you rank the checklist in order of priority. Now you have a clear vision of your targets and what you need to achieve. Usually, the target is linked to completing the task within a timeframe.

The skill is to balance the urgency of the tasks vs. how long it takes to complete. That is a good way you can prioritise workload.

Manage priorities

We’ve spoken about setting targets. So, let’s look at some other priorities that we might have as administrators. For example,

Are you getting enough sleep?

Are you eating and drinking well?

Are you stressed?

We are not robots. We need to look after ourselves and maintain our health and well-being. So, make time appropriately inside and outside of work to take care of yourself. You cannot even consider to perform your job well if you aren’t looking after yourself, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Your healthy and well-being should be your number one priority.

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Focus on tasks and see things through

As explained previously, as an administrator you will often have several tasks that need to be worked on. So, you need to organise and prioritise your time. But in addition to that you need to see things through.

Don’t start a task and then switch to something else; unless you can absolutely justify doing that. Recognise that some tasks need to be completed in order to keep your organisation functioning and flowing. They may take a lot of time, sometimes several hours. But they need to be done.

So, stay focused and compete the task you are working on.

Manage those around you

Finally, in any role, but especially that of an administrator you need to manage those people around you. As an administrator you will often be doing work that someone else is relying on you to complete.

Do your best not to get distracted. If people are trying to take you away from a task you are working on just explain to them that you would appreciate some time and space to focus and do the work you need to do.

Most people are often very understanding and when something is pointed out to them they will give you the time and space you need to get your work done. If they don’t, then just pass this information onto your line manager or HR.

As well as that, remember that people have good days and bad days. People express themselves in different ways and cope with problems differently. You don’t need to take abuse from anybody, but at the same time do your best to recognise that sometimes people will be angry at the situation rather than you. Not everyone has the same skills and ability to be able to process information and channel their emotions in a way calm and productive way. Developing and working on your emotional intelligence is a skill that has to be practised.

Ultimately, everyone is there to work as a team. Remember to focus on working with people and not against people.


Born in Wolverhampton. Raised in Wolverhampton and Exmouth. Educated in Wolverhampton, Exmouth, and Kingston. Living in Exeter.

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