One of the many challenges I often hear from Assistants is that their Executives and the broader organisation do not understand the role and work that Assistants undertake. Assistants are renowned for completing their tasks and ensuring everything runs smoothly. This often means that Executives don’t see the work that goes into ‘making things happen’. A side effect of this challenge is that Assistants can often feel undervalued and underutilised. Assistants get on with the job, but there is so much more they can do, and they are often unchallenged and underemployed. Feeling undervalued and how to make a change.
I know I certainly felt that in my Assistant career. At times, I felt very undervalued. My skills were not taken into consideration, nor my experience and education. It left me feeling discouraged and unmotivated.
In my case, I felt undervalued for many reasons, and I know that many Assistants will relate to that feeling at the moment. Many of us are still working from home, and we don’t have that instant contact that we once had in the office, where you could see the work that needed to be done and put yourself forward for projects and tasks. Or you could make the problem disappear and move on to the next challenge.
I was an Assistant during the financial crisis in 2008, and although I was not working to my total capacity, I didn’t want to rock the boat or put my head above the parapet when so many people were losing their jobs. Instead, I did the work that was asked of me to the best of my ability, but I didn’t say I was unmotivated.
In the long run, it didn’t serve me well. I was bored, and it took quite some time to get out of the rut I was in and actually use my skills again and rebuild my confidence. It took me a while to play catch up and work again at my full potential.
What to do when you feel undervalued in the Assistant role?
I know this will resonate with a lot of Assistants. I hear it a lot. Assistants who have done everything right have a lot to offer but, for various reasons, are not fulfilling their potential.
So, what can you do when you feel undervalued and how to change?
When you feel undervalued, taking stock of where you are in your role and what you are doing is imperative. Make a list of all the tasks you do, and then list all the tasks you would like to work on. It is worth looking at your job description when you joined the organisation. Are you working on everything you were told was part of the job? Once you have analysed where you stand, you have the information to decide about your future. Our guide for new Assistants covers some areas that Assistants should be responsible for in their day-to-day work.
Is there more to do in the role and the organisation?
Once you have your list of tasks you want to work on, now is the time to look for things to do proactively. When you feel undervalued, you have to take some personal responsibility and carve out work that you enjoy, motivating you. I know it can be tiresome asking for work, but especially now, everyone is overwhelmed, and a proactive person who takes on additional responsibilities will be appreciated.