Typing, Internet Research, Data Entry...Commodity Skills and a Bare Necessity

What is work? A job you do every day? If you try to decompose it into smaller pieces, what will you get in the end?

You are a project manager. Your job is important: both to you and your clients. Well, let's try to be honest with others and yourself - after breaking down your busy schedule into smaller pieces and peeling off all the "muy importante" stuff, all that remains can be described as simple typing (or email-writing), telephone calls and maybe some internet research. That's it. By the way, these tasks are outsourced to providers from third-world countries for the price as low as $1/hr.

Hm...But a front-desk assistant who performs exactly the same duties receives on average from $10 to $15 per hour. So what will be the suggestion? Whether a project manager should receive the wage of the front-desk assistant or whether the poor front-desk assistant should go and find some other place to work since his/her services are worth that much (or rather so little).

The main question here is - why some people get way more money for pretty much the same services they render? What is the core difference between a project manager and a secretary? Again, we are trying to divest of all the company-specific and personal factors and consider an abstract manager and an assistant (aka secretary)?

A manager has more power to decide certain things, so even if one compares a phone call that is taken by a secretary and by a manager - the latter will certainly be able to resolve the situation more efficiently. Where does this power stem from? Perhaps from the knowledge of a specific business. Why specific? Because if you place a completely new manager into any business - he/she will be rather worthless without prior training. While a skilled secretary can take up the position and is expected to fit right in, from day one. Nobody will want to train a secretary to type, answer phone calls, etc. While training is definitely an integral part of every manager's orientation period. Fair enough.

So in general be it a secretary or a manager - all of them start their jobs with somewhat equal amount of prior skills. The difference between them may lie in communication. Or rather in the way you communicate the importance of your services to your boss. If you manage to convince your supervisor of your uniqueness and necessity for the company - here's the manager position for you. If you are shy enough - the secretary's desk is the right place for you.
I'm not trying to say that managers and assistants should get the same salary or that someone is smarter than the other...

My first point was about the most essential and often looked down upon duties like typing (with decent speed), data entry, Internet research, Office apps use, etc. These are actually the skills that even a top official should master. Because giving orders is only part of the management process. A nicer part. The other one is rather prosaic, but it shows that you can do what your subordinates do. But you also know and can do more. That's what you get paid for.