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  • feedwordpress 16:13:43 on 2017/02/03 Permalink
    Tags: , administrative assistant development, assistant and executive, , , ,   

    8 Killer Tips for a Successful Executive and Assistant Partnership 


    There is no greater relationship in the workplace than that of an executive and assistant. I can honestly say that because of my experience as an assistant for 20 years and as an executive for 27 years.

    While the world is a much different place today, there are core strategies for a successful executive and assistant partnership that do not change. That is because they are the interpersonal side of the partnership. Whether your team relationship is just beginning or has matured, you will benefit from these tips.

    1. Communicate, communicate, and communicate! Of course, there are many pieces that fall under communication. When I coach executive and assistant teams, they think they do a good job of communicating. But when I dig into to when, how, and what they communicate, they fall short. Rarely do executives communicate what happened in yesterday’s meetings to their assistants or take the time to explain the scope of a project. The beauty of ongoing verbal communication is you keep the work flowing, reduce errors, prevent chaos, flag issues before they arrive and make working together more enjoyable.

    2. Discuss and implement consistent processes. In last week’s Monday Motivators™, I said the magic formula for a stellar executive and assistant team is People + Processes = Success. I wrote an entire 80+ Page Guide incorporating the main processes executives and assistants need to have down pat, such as: regularly scheduled meetings, calendar management, meeting preparation, e-mail management, project management, travel, follow-up systems and prioritization. An executive and assistant will be much more productive when they have proven processes in place and consistently use them. That is the key—consistency. While we have occasionally gotten off track at our office due to seasonal events like our Annual Conference for Administrative Excellence, we get back on track as soon as possible.

    3. Provide status updates to each other on a regular basis. This would occur during daily huddles or throughout the day. Assistants… don’t wait for your executive to ask you the status of a project, task, follow-up item or other requests. And executives should give their assistants status updates on projects, important presentations and meetings, travel and upcoming business initiatives.

    4. Work to improve performance and job satisfaction. Even the greatest of executive and assistant teams work to improve their team performance and their processes. Life changes, things change, business changes, technology is constantly changing. We cannot afford to be stagnant or accept that the way we do something today is the best way. If you want to be a truly successful team, you need the mentality of “continuous improvement.”

    5. Welcome feedback from each other. Whether feedback is about performance, processes, each other’s role, or a situation, be open. A strong executive and assistant team knows that feedback is important. Yet I often see assistants who are afraid to approach their executive about something. I also see executives who aren’t completely comfortable giving feedback to their assistant outside of the annual performance review.

    6. Implement quarterly strategic meetings. The business world is largely structured around quarters. For this reason, I recommend scheduling a more in-depth strategic meeting at the beginning or end of each quarter. The purpose of these meetings is to:

    • Update one another on projects coming up.
    • Debrief one another on projects that have been wrapped up.
    • Discuss projects still in the works.
    • Share victories (personal and professional).
    • Re-establish priorities.
    • Re-commit to deadlines.


    7. Be comfortable with uncomfortable conversations. It’s ok for an assistant and executive to disagree on how they think something should be done or how a situation might be handled. Recently in an executive and assistant coaching session, I asked the assistant to talk about one thing she would like her executive to either: start doing, stop doing or do more often. The executive was in the room with us. This was a team who had already been working together for many years. The assistant said, “I want you to start talking to me more often.” While that seems like a simple request, one might wonder why the assistant kept quiet about this for so many years.

    8. Compliment each other on a job well done. We all love to get a pat on the back. Sometimes assistants don’t feel valued. An executive needs to compliment their assistant from time-to-time on a job well done. On the other side of the desk… executives are humans and they also like compliments (even if they don’t say so.). An assistant can compliment her/his executive on a great presentation; graciously handling a difficult situation; or taking the time to talk with a stressed employee. Remember positive reinforcement encourages a person to continue the same good behavior in the future.

    Well, I hope you like my 8 killer tips! They work extremely well, especially when done in conjunction with each other. Wishing you a great week.

    Joan Burge

    P.S. I will be in Chicago April 24, 2017, to kick off Administrative Professionals Week with a full day workshop for assistants called Building a Star Partnership! This workshop is sponsored by Shure Inc. and will be held at the corporate theater in Niles, IL.

    The post 8 Killer Tips for a Successful Executive and Assistant Partnership appeared first on Office Dynamics.

  • feedwordpress 14:00:43 on 2017/01/30 Permalink
    Tags: , assistant and executive, , , , , , , , , ,   

    Executives and Assistants Working in Partnership — The Magic Formula 

    executive_assistant_trainingThe most important team in the workplace is that of the executive and his or her administrative assistant. Just think about it…. they work together more closely than any other team; the assistant is responsible for running her executive’s life in addition to her own job; most executives rely heavily on their executive assistant to get the job done, be the gatekeeper, information flow manager, department liaison, decision maker, sounding board, organizer and Chief of Everything Officer.

    I have been very fortunate to have coached hundreds of executive and assistant teams over 26 years. I just finished a powerful 3-day executive and assistant coaching project with a large financial firm in Minneapolis. In addition to a formal executive training session on how to maximize the time and talents of your assistant, I privately worked one-on-one with 10 executive and assistant teams for 90 minutes each session. It was amazing and valuable!

    There are so many facets of the executive and assistant partnership that I’d like to spread my tips and advice over 2 or 3 blogs. Regardless of which side of the desk you sit, I hope you find this informative and will share this with your assistant peers, executives and managers.

    Today, let’s focus on my magic formula: People + Processes = Success! For an executive and assistant to work in tandem, they need the “people” side of the relationship and they have to have the absolute best processes and use those processes consistently. Consistency is the key word. Assistants will tell me, “Yes, I meet with my executive once and awhile.” That is not going to bring the highest level of efficiency and productivity to your team. Star executive and assistant teams meet/speak on a regular basis. This is how they keep the work and information flowing. The people side includes excellent, ongoing, regular communications (and I don’t mean texting and IM). I mean talking in person whether at the office, on the phone, or via Skype or Facetime. Of course, there are many facets that fall under communications but here is one of the most important secrets I will share with you.

    Communicating Expectations and Perceptions

    To prepare for my one-on-one coaching sessions with the executives and their assistants, each person had to complete our Office Dynamics Administrative Skill Competency Assessment. The executives completed the assessment on how they viewed their assistant’s performance; the assistants completed the assessment on how they viewed their own performance.

    There were 12 main competency areas, including appointment coordination, manager support, meeting preparation and coordination, and office communications. Under each main competency, there is a list of behaviors performed by stellar assistants. In all, there were 83 behaviors the assistants were rated on.

    Here is the interesting but not surprising part to me: 9 out of 10 executive and assistant teams were not on the same page in 48 or more areas! That means that 9 out of 10 teams were not viewing the assistant’s support or meeting the executive’s expectations in the same way. This is not unusual. I see this all the time.

    A key area of miscommunication, poor communication, and mistrust between executives and assistants is around the topic of expectations and perceptions. Many executives have a difficult time honestly and adequately expressing expectations of their assistants. In truth, they often don’t have the awareness or tools to do so. They believe they don’t have the time. These executives either know they don’t feel as supported as they would like, or they’ve come to believe that this is all there is—that their assistant is only capable of so much.

    As a result, assistants are left frustrated, wondering how they’re doing and what they’re missing. Often, assistants misinterpret signals regarding what’s needed. They don’t fully understand their role and receive little useful feedback. Most under-leveraged or under-performing assistants falsely believe they’re meeting expectations.  Others are well aware deficiencies exist but unable to determine exactly what they are, and how to improve.

    In short, executives and assistants aren’t on the same page.  This leads to resentment, anger, and lack of motivation on both sides. Understanding the written job description is not enough for Assistants to be successful. Most Human Resource professionals agree that a well-written job description still only accurately describes 50% to 75% of the actual job.

    Two-way communication is required to build a true partnership.

    Executives must gain the self-awareness to know what they need and want from their assistants. They must honestly, promptly, and clearly articulate this information. Without communicating, the executive is cheating his assistant out of important information that she needs to do the job well.

    Assistants must gain the self-awareness to know what they are delivering and whether or not that matches expectations. They must listen and inquire. They must learn to be a conduit of information. Without communicating, the assistant is cheating her executive out of the support experience he deserves.

    The idea is to work together as a team, running the ball down the field toward the same goal. Picture a football game and the players on the field. In a partnership, the assistant is helping the executive run the ball down the field rather than sitting on the sidelines just cheering him on. The assistant has skin in the game. In order to make this happen, the Assistant must understand the “score” of the work, the goals, and what qualifies as a touchdown in the executive’s eye. All of this requires exceptional two-way communication.

    As you approach this week, I’d like to challenge you to get more face-to-face or phone time with your executive or assistant.

    • Identify the top 3 – 5 day’s priorities (because they are constantly changing).
    • Discuss the day’s calendar but not just who or what is on the calendar. Executives need to give their assistants more context around each meeting so the assistant can increase her awareness. This allows the assistant to be more proactive.
    • Look at next week’s schedule and discuss what needs to be prepared this week to be ready for the following week. Does your executive need items from other people? For executives: what do you need your assistant to help you with to prepare for those meetings?
    • Debrief yesterday’s meetings that the executive attended. What action items came from each of those meetings? These would go on the executive’s or assistant’s to do list or follow up list.

    Please be sure to check our blog in the next few weeks as I will provide valuable and life-long strategies on how to create a rewarding, productive executive and assistant team.

    We are also having a FREE WEBINAR on Building A Star Partnership and you can register here.

    Joan Burge

    P.S. I will be in Chicago April 24, 2017, to kick off Administrative Professionals Week with a full day workshop for assistants called Building a Star Partnership! This workshop is sponsored by Shure Inc. and will be held at the corporate theater in Niles, IL. Learn more here.

    The post Executives and Assistants Working in Partnership — The Magic Formula appeared first on Office Dynamics.

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