James Adonis writing the article claims that the receptionist is often the first point of contact, the initial impression experienced by clients and business associates. It's a crucial role.
He notes that many companies have ceased calling their receptionists 'receptionists'. They've instead adopted fancy titles such as 'Brand Ambassador', 'Director of First Impressions' and other identifiers closer to the cringe-worthy end of the naming spectrum. I'm more accustomed to the term Executive Assistant or something similar.
James Adonis goes further and sites best-selling author Seth Godin who has written in the past that an average receptionist is "basically a low-tech security guard in nice clothes", making sure visitors don't steal things or barge in unannounced.
On the other hand Godin claims that a top quality receptionist has a job expanded to include building relationships with guests, promoting the organisation's accomplishments, and making people feel special by offering snacks such as freshly baked cookies (biscuits).
The question James Adonis asks is what to pay the receptionist. He checked out Fairfax Media's MyCareer website, receptionists earn an average of $45,000 a year, which is roughly 40 per cent less than the average full-time worker's income.
But its known today that a good one is worth much more and can earn into the six figure sum as their roles are more often than not being able to second guess the boss. The working relationship becomes a professional expression of non-sexual intimacy and herein lies the ultimate confusion association with such a role. Just watch the movies or today's social media!
My wife of 36 years was a receptionist in a solicitor's office from the time she left TAFE (in her day the Secretarial Business School) and one of her many duties was keeping an eye on the supply of the various stationary requirements. Running out was not an option. It was a job that required a level of competence, know how, influence, meaning and trust within the office with both the clients and her working colleagues.
Delma says today that those years working as a receptionist in a small country town provided her an insight into running a family (in our case 4 children) and ensuring that all the supplies for the shopping cart as well as clothing, shoes, bathroom and all kept within a budget came in very handy.
In my years founding the Sports and Leisure Ministry (Chaplains in Professional Sport) 1982-2000 (18 years) and travelling across the nation on appointment negotiating the benefits of a Sport Chaplain, often the first task was to get past the receptionist whose skills in deflecting are second to none.
Church and Mission Receptionist
There is no receptionist more highly skilled though - than those engaged in the Church or Mission situation:
Consider the skills they need quite apart from the office supply task:
â€¢ Keeping mum the many astonishing / unbelievable things one hears
â€¢ Determining what might be fact or half truth or false
â€¢ Keeping the Pastor protected from the predatory (opposite sex)
â€¢ Knowing when to back off in recommendations
â€¢ Having gained nous when to advise something's not right
â€¢ Handling the pushy or over eager volunteers
â€¢ An ability to adjust the diary and daily appointments
â€¢ Knowing when to shut the door at home from work
There is no greater place to tell lies and half truths than in the church or mission office as others assume that what is being said is white and shinning. But that is far from the reality of the situation having spent 36 years in such circumstances.
If I have learnt anything in Christian ministry is that most of what I hear have agenda's attached. This is a skill developed usually after some painful mistakes and a good receptionist likewise learns this kind of intuition.
As in commerce and industry, when you get a good receptionist, hold on to them, pay them well, show respect but at the same time, it is imperative they recognise that their desk is not the decision making desk and herein lies another article for another time.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html