1. DON'T MAKE AN ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT A MANAGER MINUS THE TITLE, cautions Richard Thornton, Blue Cross of Greater Philadelphia vice-president of human resources and chairman of the Administrative Management Society's panel on job titles and salaries for office personnel.

An administrative assistant should act as a highly skilled secretary who relieves a top executive of routine administrative detail. Although she may be held accountable for accomplishing project duties, she should not have line accountability. That, says Thornton, confuses the organization and puts the assistant in the unfair position of having management responsibility without the title, authority, and salary.

2. DON'T ASSUME THAT THE WAY YOU FIRST STRUCTURE THE ROLE IS PERMANENT. "A growing company is by definition a changing company," notes Thomas Faulhaber, a Boston-based consultant to smaller companies. "An administrative assistant's job may need almost continuous redefinition as the company grows, as the executive experiments with delegating responsibilities and as he tests the capabilities of his assistant."

A chief executive who now had no second-in-command will eventually need one. Unless an assistant can grow into the role, says Faulhaber, be prepared for the time when you will have to transfer some of her responsibilities to your new manager. Think ahead to what role your assistant may play at that point and discuss possible options with her: for example, remaining your personal assistant, working with the new manager, or moving on to a position such as office manager or advertising coordinator.

3. DON'T TREAT AN ASSISTANT AS A PROFESSIONAL ONE MINUTE, A "GOFER" THE NEXT. "Asking an assistant to handle an important account and in the next breath asking her to get you a cup of coffee is a sure way to sabotage a productive working relationship," says Joan Sackett, a Warwick, R.I., consultant who teaches an American Management Association course for administrative assistants. Avoiding such mixed signals is a two-way proposition contends Sackett. "An administrative assistant is usually a woman, and most often a highly motivated woman who is anxious to please and eager to take on responsibility. Unless both she and her boss are mature and honest about what each expects and thinks fair, she may end up feeling overworked and dumped on -- and never say a word."

4. DO GIVE AN ASSISTANT A SALARY THAT'S A FAIR MEASURE OF WHAT SHE'S WORTH TO YOU AND YOUR COMPANY. The roles and the salaries of administrative assistants are still evolving. Most assistants are considered hourly workers, but there is a trend toward viewing them as salaried employees as their responsibilities increase. The mid-range for 18,000 employees with the title of executive secretary or administrative assistant was $15,600 to $17,000, according to a nationwide survey taken in January 1981 by the Administrative Management Society. The AMS suggests that its figures, like those from any salary survey, be combined with other factors such as benefit programs and working conditions in making a salary decision.

5. DO DEFINE AN ASSISTANT'S DUTIES AS CLEARLY AS YOU CAN -- AND LET HER KNOW WHETHER SHE'S DOING THEM TO YOUR SATISFACTION. While this is a "golden rule" for managing any employee, it's particularly important for an administrative assistant since the acts for you, not on her own authority, notes Joan Sackett.

"She's really going to flounder unless she knows when she's doing a good job of acting in your stead. Avoid pulling punches: She needs to know when she's done something well, but she also needs to know when she hasn't. If she can't take constructive criticism, she really isn't suited to the position."

6. DO LOOK FIRST WITHIN YOUR COMPANY FOR AN ASSISTANT. The perfect person may be sitting right in your office, but because she's never thought of herself in an assistant's role, isn't sure what the title means, or doesn't know you want an assistant, she may never speak up on her own. Pass the word that you're looking, then talk to possible candidates individually, urges Sackett's partner, Elaine Berke, a specialist in management development.

If you do find you must go outside the company, when you advertise state the qualities of the person you want as specifically as possible, and ask applicants to write a letter explaining why they think they are a good match.A letter will give you the opportunity to judge how well each person communicates in writing, a skill that's often an important part of the job.