If you’re a manager, encourage your administrative staffers to earn career-boosting credentials and avoid stagnating in their current jobs. The more skilled, independent and nimble your staff is, the higher your office productivity will be — and the better you will look.
In addition, you will likely improve morale and discourage staffers from seeking jobs elsewhere.
To help your staffers ascend, research appropriate career tracks for them. Many responsible federal jobs only require relevant experience, not necessarily college degrees. Appropriate fields for aspiring administrative staffers without degrees include administrative officers, procurement, property management, equal opportunity, human resources, information technology and website development.
Research mentoring and training funds — available in-house or from private vendors and professional organizations — to help pay for relevant and degree-track courses. Potential training sources include the Federal Acquisition Institute, the Defense Acquisition Institute, the Graduate School, defense and intelligence agencies, and leadership training sources catalogued on the Office of Personnel Management website.
Because of ongoing shortages of acquisitions officers, training or experience in acquisitions and contracting, including as a contracting officer’s technical representative (COTR) or as an assistant COTR, are useful credentials.
Likewise, experience and certifications in project management are career-boosting credentials. And just about everyone can benefit from training in communications skills, social media, time management and congressional budget processes.
Speak directly to your staffers about their career prospects. Perhaps during performance evaluations, explain that feds must usually do more than just reliably fulfill their job descriptions to land promotions. Rather, they must go beyond the call of duty and exceed their job descriptions, without showing a sense of entitlement for promotions.
Discuss with your staffers their interests and strengths. Remind them that the more intensive, specialized experience they gain, the more likely they will be to become the “go to” people for their specialties.
But by the same token, the broader an administrative professional’s skill set is, the more likely he will be to stand out from the pack of one-trick ponies he may compete against. So, assure your staffers you will try to offer them assignments and training that not only enhance their credentials in their specialties but also expand their skills and address their weaknesses.
Encourage staffers to identify, design and volunteer to lead or co-lead needed projects and to identify training opportunities and detail assignments that would help them qualify for their target jobs. For example, advise your employees to identify committees on which they could serve to broaden their knowledge of your agency’s management strategies and expose them to other feds — and help them grow their reputations.
Also, emphasize the importance of learning about the substantive policy and management issues addressed by your agency.
More ways to help your staffers advance:
• Nominate them for awards, as warranted.
• Build promotion potential into new jobs.
• Suggest that employees earn advanced degrees or degrees in high-demand fields from vocational schools.
• Provide opportunities for administrative staffers to train others and earn supervisory experience.