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5 points to know about your employer

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You can own all the skills of a successful admin pro but, if you don't understand how they fit within the organization, you're just spinning your wheels. Here are five things you should know about your organization and how they will help you succeed:

1. Key players. Paying attention to the names and faces on your organization's Web site, in its internal
communications and in news articles serves you in multiple ways. You'll know how to handle that unexpected VIP call to your boss and be able to introduce yourself during a chance encounter in the elevator.

2. Recent personnel changes. Who was who can be almost as important as who is who, because it expands your network. You may not know whom to contact in accounting about a lost invoice, but Guy, who interned there before joining your department, probably does. When the entire marketing staff is off site for a meeting, do you know which VP recently headed that department and might be able to answer an urgent question?
Don't just pay attention to formal announcements, but take an interest in your colleagues and their backgrounds.

3. Mission statement. Internalize your employer's stated goals, and you'll have directions for prioritizing and solving problems, as well as ammunition to support your own objectives. Example: "This communication seminar I'd like to attend will help me better respond to our customers, one of our organization's top three goals."

4. Competitors.
Because you're always discreet, your loose lips will never reveal your employer's secrets where they might be overheard by a rival (who could be anywhere). Knowing who and where the enemy lies also will keep you from making other missteps, like scheduling that top-secret merger session in the hotel across the street from your competitor's headquarters.

5. Financials.
Pay attention to how and when the dollars flow through your organization, in budget and market cycles. Then, time your requests and pitches for new ideas to those fluctuations and show that you're sensitive to the bottom line by noting when you can delay a purchase. Example: "We'll need three of these items within the next six months, and we can save $50 if we buy them now. But if money's tight, I'll wait."

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