Showing Appreciation to Workplace Un-Sung Heroes

Althea DeBrule

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Millions of Un-Sung Heroes are born every minute! They are found everywhere—on street corners, in our homes, offices, and communities—wherever there are people in need of rescue. These special people, whose positive actions and initiatives are performed to benefit others, are not famous or in the news for what they are doing; but their efforts affect, enrich and touch countless lives.

Every business has these Un-Sung Heroes. They are the receptionists, secretaries, and administrative professionals we rely on daily to keep the wheels of corporate America turning.

The role of the office professional has changed significantly as reliance on technology and office automation has increased. Downsizing or organizational restructuring has led secretaries and administrative assistants to assume a wider range of new responsibilities that were once the property of management and senior professional staff.

How to Identify the Un-Sung Heroes in Your Office

Un-Sung Heroes are easy to recognize, but just in case you can’t find them in your office, here is a simple way to help you spot their contributions.

  1. You frequently go to them for coordination of office administrative and support activities.
  2. They are walking libraries of information you need to service your clients.
  3. You often rely on them for training and orientation of new staff members.
  4. You would be lost without their expertise in researching on the Internet and operating and troubleshooting new office technologies.
  5. When they are absent the office just doesn’t seem to run smoothly and efficiently.
  6. You haven’t a clue how to make your own travel arrangements; they do this with dexterity and ease.
  7. They are walking desktop publishers and proposal and presentation writers.
  8. They’ve taught you so many important things as well as how to be self-sufficient and get your own coffee or tea.
  9. They are excellent team players who understand the value of being flexible and working with others to share their expertise.
  10. Let’s face it, without their assistance you would not be able to perform your own job efficiently and resourcefully.

If you were able to spot at least one of these behaviors, you have caught a glimpse of a real live Un-Sung Hero. Your task, if you choose to accept it, is to show your appreciation for all their efforts and hard work.

Every April, we celebrate National Administrative Professionals Week, which was originally created in 1952 as National Professional Secretaries Week to emphasize the importance of secretarial work and to encourage more women to become secretaries. Included in this week-long celebration is National Secretary’s Day—a special holiday to honor, acknowledge and express appreciation for secretaries throughout the United States. Over the years as men became secretaries, the role changed significantly to that of an administrative support function. As a result the name changed to Administrative Professional’s Day.

It is customary to give a politically correct gift (cards, gift certificates, flowers, etc. ) or to take the administrative professional to lunch. However, don’t wait for the next holiday to acknowledge the many contributions your Un-Sung Heroes make.

Going forward, develop a positive recognition habit and commit to finding at least one thing each week you can do to thank your administrative professional.

Althea DeBrule, entrepreneur and seasoned human resources executive, has focused for more than 30 years on helping people achieve their career goals. Creator of The Extreme-Career-Makeover™ and a founding partner of RADSGroup Organizational Consultants, she is recognized for her bottom line and practical application of career development and management strategies in a way that penetrates hearts and compels action. She speaks and teaches with inspired talent, humor and contagious zeal at management conferences and leadership retreats nationwide, and has been featured in CFO Magazine, Strategy@Work, Human Resource Executive Magazine. Althea is the author of Bosses & Orchards, a compelling and candid book about how to make your work relationship with your boss succeed. To discover how you can take your career to a new level, visit


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