Modern-day etiquette for admins

Jorie Scholnik is an assistant professor of student development at Sante Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., as well as an etiquette associate at the Protocol School of Palm Beach. We connected with her recently to learn how administrative professionals can best conduct themselves on the job.

APT: How important is business etiquette for administrative professionals?

Scholnik: It is important for ad­­min­­is­­tra­­tive professionals to understand and apply business etiquette, especially considering that this person is often the first point of contact for new clients or customers. Administrative assistants can set the tone for how a business provides customer service. This means they need to follow email and phone etiquette, too.

APT: What recent changes to business etiquette should experienced admins be aware of?


Difficult People D

•  Email: Make sure to greet recipients by name and spell their names correctly, create a relevant subject line and include all attachments. Know when to include people in email and know when “reply all” isn’t necessary.

•  Phone: Always say your name when answering the phone, notify people immediately if they are on speaker phone and ask permission before placing someone on hold.

•  Social media: Be aware that you are a reflection of the company; never complain about bosses or co-workers, upload only appropriate pictures and avoid social media during working hours.

APT: What business etiquette ad­­vice would you give young admins who are just getting started in the working world?

Scholnik: Young administrative professionals need to avoid office gossip. Once something is said, especially if it’s through email, it can never be taken back. You can create only one reputation, so conduct yourself in a professional manner, show up on time, dress appropriately and be open to feedback. It’s also important to understand company culture. For example, know when it is more appropriate to email and when it’s appropriate to walk over to someone’s office. Administrative professionals should also make the time to attend company events so they can network with higher-ups.

APT: Are there specific etiquette guidelines for admins that differ from other employees in the office?

Scholnik: Administrative assistants can be the “hub” of the office—everyone knows this person, interacts with him or her on a daily basis, relies on him or her to help with tasks, etc. Therefore, admins need to respond to emails promptly, communicate well and respect everyone in the office. I think it’s important to not play favorites and have a positive attitude toward all employees.