Working Transitions

The Death of the Administrator? Redeploying valuable skills within your organisations

The future of the workplace is big news.  You don’t have to look far to read about which skills are going to be highly valued in the digital age and which professions are going to be left behind.

We spoke to some of our associate coaches to get their views  - working daily with our clients and their employees, they are at the forefront of the changing workplace.  Without exception, our coaches told us that administrative and clerical skills are going to be less in demand in the workplace of the future.

The Administrator, once the cornerstone of any organisation, has been hit with a double whammy – firstly, digitalisation has bought with it a wealth of new software and programmes that automate many of the jobs that would previously fall within their remit.  Secondly, employees across almost all organisations have a much wider skillset than in the past.  Not even 20 years ago, many large organisations would not equip their sales people or senior managers with a  computer – there was little need – secretarial and administrative staff were often the only ones in the office with the skills required to create professional written documents, spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations.  Now, even the most senior of leaders are highly connected, capable and tech savvy with the ability to perform many of these functions themselves

What does this mean for the administrator?  For some, it will no doubt mean a more interesting and specialised role – with many of the more ‘mundane’ day to day tasks automated, the administrator’s time will be freed up to focus on tasks that require a higher level of capability.  However, the likelihood is that administrative headcount will, at some point, need to be reduced – there simply won’t be the need for as many man-hours.    What does this mean for your organisation?  If you currently employ a large bank of administrators how can you ensure that you retain talent and utilise what is undoubtedly a wide and varied skill set? Highly organised, attention to detail, excellent communication skills, the ability to work under pressure – administrators have some enviable credentials that could make them a very welcome addition to another area of the organisation.

How can you ensure that you retain talent and utilise what is undoubtedly a wide and varied skill set?  

Raise the issue

Where possible, share information and details of any potential restructure as soon as it’s viable. Nothing is more damaging in the workplace than ‘chinese whispers’ – if employees feel that decisions are being made without their involvement they will feel alienated and disheartened and their first instinct may be to ‘fly the nest’.

If managers of affected departments have not been through a change process before consider whether coaching or training in this area may be of benefit.

Keep it positive

For many, the process of redeploying into a new role or considering a change in direction can be a really positive experience. If your organisation has been through a similar process before, success stories from previous redeployees who are now successfully settled in an alternative role can be reassuring and inspiring. Think about incorporating these into your communication strategy.

Enabling employees to identify and explore their transferable skills – either through coaching, workshops or online tools – can be empowering and equip individuals for success in an alternative role within the organisation. Make sure too that hiring managers truly understand the value of transferability and how to properly assess skills at interview.

Introduce supporting measures early

A supportive and proactive approach to redeployment is key to ensuring that the people that you want to keep see an internal move as a viable option. Ensure affected employees are made aware of the available support as early as possible and allow them time to understand, digest and fully utilise the package on offer.

Ensure that the support package is tailored to the workforce and offers support that will benefit all affected employees. Group workshops, seminars, individual sessions, telephone coaching, online tools – there’s lots available – whatever you decide to offer make sure it’s properly targeted to your workforce.

It’s also worth reviewing the process for internal applications – ensure this is as simple, clear and streamlined as possible and that every available job vacancy is properly communicated.  In times of stress a convoluted, difficult to navigate system can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back!

Plan ahead

Don’t just think about redeployment and skills development when you’re going through a period of change. Encourage a strong culture of internal mobility where employees are actively encouraged to move between departments  and experience different areas of the organisation. Encourage work shadowing and strong  inter-departmental communication as the ‘norm’. Not only will all employees have a far better understanding of internal opportunities within other departments but the whole organisation will benefit immeasurably from the increase in communication


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Working Transitions
18 May 2017
Supporting effective and successful organisational change


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