Do you feel your assistant is a rock star? Does your assistant make a difference in your day? If so, awesome! If not, don’t worry or run to find a new rock star assistant. You may have your diamond in the ruff sitting outside your office. To start, here are a few tips that will help strengthen your partnership with your assistant.
How does your assistant measure up? Top executives know the importance of having a rock star assistant.
What do top executives of the world have that helps make them… that top executive? An assistant that understands the executive, the organization, and the position and can take all the pieces of the puzzle, put them together, and make a true difference in an executive’s life. A rock star assistant isn’t the power BEHIND the throne, the rock star assistant is the power WITH the throne.
How does your assistant measure up?
Most executives have an assistant to help them out, but what makes a truly great assistant?
What makes one assistant stand out over another?
An assistant that has your back and is that partner. This EA knows what is going on, what is important to you and your goals, and your company. This assistant knows what you are working on and how and what they can do to help you achieve your goals. Your success is their success.
Miracle Worker/Mind readers. Of course, there is no such thing as a mind reader, but a good EA takes what they know (from email, meetings, one on ones, general organization knowledge, common sense) and anticipates what is going to be important in the future and helps you prepare or take action before projects even get started. A great EA can see possible crisis situations and be able to shift directions quickly and address daily issues as well as emergencies. A rock star EA gets things done where you don’t have to worry about the how’s. Everything has a solution, a rock star assistant will have that mindset set of, “ok this can be done, now to figure out the how.”
Manage and maximize your time. There is more to maximizing time than just maintaining your calendar, handling your email, and managing meetings! (Though your assistant should be awesome at all those tasks!) A rock star assistant will protect your time, jump in when someone is manipulating your time in the break room, or if a project is coming up on a deadline, block out some do not disturb time! Your assistant will know your projects and their abilities, so can jump in and take over a task or research projects that let you free up time for more important work. A great assistant will analyze your meetings and time-consuming tasks and help you utilize your time for maximum efficiency.
ROI! Your rock star assistant saves your company money! Your time is money. For every hour your assistant saves you, that is adding real value to your company’s bottom line. Your assistant frees up time so you can work on important projects or strategies. By taking over email, phones, and just being a good gatekeeper, your assistant can save you, easily 2 hours a day. Now add helping to prepare for meetings, running to get a signature from a worker, taking over a report, picking up a coffee or lunch, those hours add up. You know what you make, you know what your EA makes. How much does your EA save if they save you 10 hours a week? What about 20 or more hours a week. This number is actually pretty substantial! This doesn’t even take into account the mental ROI of not worrying about tasks!
Do you feel your assistant is a rock star? Does your assistant do all that was mentioned above and then some? If so, awesome! If not, don’t worry or run to find a new rock star assistant. You may have your diamond in the ruff sitting outside your office. Many times, as an executive, your world, is so busy and you are just doing what you always have done. Most assistants have a personality of wanting to help and make a difference in their executive’s life. It just takes some extra communication and initiative to get your assistant to the next level!
To start, here are a few tips that will help strengthen your partnership with your assistant.
Effective communications. Communication goes both ways. Your assistant should have clear communications to you and you should be clear in what you want and expect from your assistant. Listen and respect your assistant’s thoughts and input. Let your assistant get to know you. They should know your likes, preferences, goals, the organization’s goals, what projects are important, as well as people who are important. Your assistant isn’t a mind reader. How can your assistant support and take tasks off your plate if they don’t have a good understanding of what is important?
Empower your assistant. Give your assistant the tools and support and let them become experts in supporting you, let them handle your calendar, email, projects, and requests that take you away from your more strategic and important tasks. Give them the encouragement and power to keep you on track, informed, and moving towards your goals. Have your assistant create goals that directly tie into your goals that tie into the organization’s goals (success turns into win-win-win!). Your assistant will want to make a difference, give them the power to do just that!
Build a relationship of trust, respect, and integrity. You want to be confident your assistant will perform their job in a way that positively represents you. Your assistant should reflect your values and should be able to represent you when needed. Trust and respect are both earned. Building a strong partnership with your assistant means showing your trust in your assistant. Your assistant may make a mistake. Supporting your assistant showing some respect, allowing them to learn from the mistake can help build that relationship. Many executives just react and reprimand. Show your respect and build that trust with your integrity! (Of course, if your assistant doesn’t learn from mistakes… that is another issue!)
Encourage problem-solving. I would love to say bringing solutions not problems is a trait everyone has, but it isn’t! It is easy to bring a problem, but solutions are much harder. A simple way to get your assistant solution-oriented is to sit down and let your assistant know, if your assistant brings a problem to you, you want them to bring a possible solution as well. Let them know it may not be “the” solution, but you want them to start thinking proactively. Over time, your assistant will get better and better at providing solutions and if they have your trust will be empowered to take action and for many problems, just handle them!
If you are getting a new assistant or have an assistant that isn’t quite that rock star… (yet!) I have two online training courses that can help you on your way:
Giving Your EA the Ammunition to Be Your EA Rock Star
An executive’s time is precious, this is a 20-minute program that walks an executive through a set of questions to communicate and let your new (or current) EA know you, your goals, and many of the points in this article. This is a 20-minute investment to empowering your assistant and gaining more hours in your workweek.
Executive Assistant’s Path to Partnership
A six-week hybrid course/coaching program, that is quick and to the point (up to 2 hours of “training” time with the rest of the week concentrating on implementing each week’s topic). The mission of this course is in 6 weeks your assistant will build a personalized action plan to increase effective communication, anticipate needs (aka, be that “Mind Reader”) and become that vital part of the executive team, and emerge as a true asset and trusted partner to you and the organization.