Last month the IAM was invited to attend the Environment Agency's National Secretaries Training and Development Day. This was the third national meeting of those who support their management teams throughout the 12 geographical areas they operate.
For many administrative professionals, a key part of their role is to reach and find solutions to changing circumstances to ensure the smooth running of the organisation. IAM general manager Andrew Jardine, offered an insightful presentation about problem solving (you may be interested in this blog post about problem solving).
One of the event organisers, Sue explains "many organisations, with the added pressures that modern working life bring now, operate as efficiently as possible. But this also means there is little flexibility left to deal with the unexpected. So when everything is going well the great work that keeps everything running smoothly can often be overlooked. But when this is disrupted it is often down to the quick thinking and organisation skills that are often found within administrative professionals to fix the situation. I believe this is when administrative management staff come into their own and when their skills are put to the test under the watchful eye of grateful colleagues".
The agency has been holding these meetings, not only as an opportunity to share best practice, but to recognise the value of their administrative employees and to help build confidence.
She explains that "without effective systems, an organisation cannot thrive. Administrators use their skills and working practices to enable leaders and specialists to deliver their roles well. Administrators need to be proud of what they achieve each day and recognise that they perform a vital role in their business...and maybe when appropriate, gently remind those around you of how many hours you have spent "adding value" and making colleagues lives much easier".
Prior to the event, we caught up with her to find out a little more about her career. She started in administrative and customer service roles, before moving as an office junior and later joining the Environment Agency. After studying a Diploma in Administrative Management with the IAM she secured her first team leader role, before moving into management. Throughout her career she has been responsible for a number of departments and is currently the Area Environment, Planning and Engagement manager.
Her main responsibilities now involve working with other leaders within their area to deliver priorities, managing issues and risks to agree approach and response, reviewing area performance to ensure corporate objectives are met and to look for opportunities to work in partnership with others. "I am surrounded by scientific and other specialists. It is important to do the job well, but it is also important to do the job well, but it is also important to be seen as a professional in my own right. That is why I strongly believe in continuous development and the credibility provided by my membership of the IAM".
You may also be interested in one of our member profiles.
81 per cent of large organisations that were hacked in the last year stated that the actions of their staff aided the attacker. In their latest whitepaper, QinetiQ (Protecting your organisation from itself; The threat from within and how to mitigate it), draw on the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills survey which stated that "People are the main vulnerabilities to a secure enterprise. Respondents believe that inadvertent human error, lack of staff awareness and weaknesses in vetting individuals were all contributing factors in causing the single worst breach that organisations suffered". Companies not recognising the insider threat to cyber attacks and security issues is becoming increasingly highlighted.
It states the need for cyber security is understood but there is a major gap between knowledge and action. The whitepaper goes on to highlight another survey conducted by the Department for Culture Security Breaches, despite over half of those surveyed stating they sought guidance on cyber security only 29% of businesses polled had formal cyber security policies in place or have cyber security risks documented in continuity plans.
The paper outlines that assessing the security culture within your organisation is crucial and how behaviour is similar or different across the organisation.
"Training can be crucial here to instil the reasoning behind such processes, but equally, the tenets for a good security policy can be applied to work security systems; they aren't easy to understand or implement, they may well fail". With this in mind, engaging employee's in the process of assessing and implementing process and policy may also help to develop a better culture and one that recognises the risks and how to ensure best practice of keeping information safe.
Have you had experience of a cyber security attack in your organisation? What do you think organisations could be doing better?