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  • feedwordpress 14:30:26 on 2020/04/30 Permalink
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    Working in Tandem with Your Leader 


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    Working in Tandem With Your Leader

    One of the most common struggles amongst administrative professionals and their executives is a disconnect. Over the last 30 years, we have heard every disconnect scenario assistants have experienced: the executive does not touch base; the executive and assistant have different communication styles; the executive is unorganized with his or her thoughts and doesn’t effectively relay details, etc.

    Working in tandem is hard enough when you are in the office and things are “business as usual.” Throw chaotic times such as national disasters, economic crises, and massive organizational changes into the mix and disconnects can become efficiency-killers.

    So how can you as an assistant avoid further disruption and work in tandem with your leader to achieve goals?

    In this Working in Tandem with Your Leader blog, we are going to cover the 3 steps you need to take to be on the same page as your leader, such as:

    1. Verbal communication
    a.) Daily huddles
    b.) Preparing for conversations and leading the next steps.
    2. Written communication
    a.) Word selections
    b.) Email message crafting
    3. Communication expectations
    a.) Discuss and agree on a process
    b.) Prioritization
    c.) Staying visible/demonstrating your value

    At the end of this blog, there is a helpful video that goes into detail on each of the steps above. If you are ready to better yourself and your career as an Assistant, read on. 

    1. Verbal communication with your executive 

    You must get your executive to realize the importance of dedicating time to verbally communicate ongoing details with you. You do this by sharing the many benefits he or she will gain. 

    We all know that during chaotic times, things are moving quickly. Decisions are made on the spot, and they are changed on the spot as well. Information is rapidly gathered and needs to get passed on. Emotions are high and they can impact actions and decisions. Do you see the complexity of this? 

    Texting, IM’ing, or sending emails is not good enough. When we text, usually we are in a hurry. It does not feel the same to type on our phone as it does when we sit at a keyboard. Often text messages are incomplete and can be left to interpretation.  

    However, when you can sit face to face or even video chat, it helps efficiency tremendously. Instead of wondering what your leader is asking of you, the context of their tone and if they are getting frustrated over miscommunications, you, the assistant can drive the conversation and get results (more on this below). 

    For years, Joan has talked about executives and assistants having daily huddles. They are a strategic way of maximizing your executive’s availability and allowing you to move forward with projects rather than waiting for the green light. Joan shares an example from an assistant and her advice in the article above. Before each huddle, you will want to make sure you:  

    • Prepare for your conversation. Your highest priority items should be discussed first. You do not want to waste your executive’s time as it will be minimal. 
    • Listen deeply. 
    • Repeat what you thought you heard to get clarification.   

     

    2. Written communication with your executive

    Normally we feel hurried and therefore might not take the time to think about what we need to say or re-read what we wrote. In doing so, we may misrepresent the subject, cause worry or extra work. To avoid this, below are some guidelines to follow. 

    • Carefully select the words you use. One word could change the entire meaning of something. 
    • Don’t blow something out of proportion and yet do not understate the urgency of something. 

    Our 5 Ways Better Writing Can Boost Your Credibility at Work blog gives a few examples and solutions. 

    Additionally, before writing your message, think about the goal of sending the communication. Do you need to get your executive’s immediate attention? Are you confirming something with your executive? Is it time-sensitive information?

    To effectively achieve each goal above, I recommend you use the words below to start the subject. 

      • URGENT 
      • IMPORTANT
      • TIME SENSITIVE
      • FYI

    Just make sure your executive is aware and agrees to the process so there are no unintentionally rude tones picked up. 

    3. Defining executive expectations

    As an assistant, what do you expect from your executive to be able to function at your optimum during unique situations? Give this area a lot of thought as it will lay the foundation for the following step: communicating your expectations to your executive.

    When you communicate your expectations, it opens the discussion for processes and efficiencies. This is the time to:

    • Evaluate which processes you need to keep in place, such as your daily huddle.
    • Determine which processes or habits can be dropped (for now). 
    • Create new processes to meet current needs.
    • Streamline existing processes. 

    After you have discussed the above it is time to prioritize. There are many moving pieces and they may be coming at you faster than you can tolerate. You might feel like you want to give up; you might feel overwhelmed, uncertain, and fearful. This is natural. By asking your executive which projects are most urgent to him or her, you can begin to number them accordingly and your days will feel more manageable. 

    That leads us to our next area – staying visible to your executive and demonstrating your value. During one of our past webinars, an assistant mentioned a concern she has is “staying in the mind of her executive” so they don’t forget her. 

    When you have reached a point of self-sufficiency, this is understandable. Here are 3 ways to stay in sight, so to speak, and in the mind of your executive:

    • Send your executive a daily update or even just a hello.
    • Add value by forwarding any pertinent information you read or see that impacts your industry.
    • Look for areas of your work where you can streamline processes.

    Unpredictable situations that dramatically impact the workplace, affect productivity, and communication will occur. However, with the right skills, you will be able to continuously work in tandem with your leader.

    Our Survival Tactics Series for Chaotic Times assistant webinar series provides actionable information on this and more.

     

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  • feedwordpress 15:30:00 on 2020/03/31 Permalink
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    Administrative Professional’s Day: Best Gift for Your Assistant 


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    When I worked as an executive assistant, I was always flattered on Administrative Professional’s Day when my leader would generously give me a gift in recognition for my service and hard work. It made me feel special and truly meant a lot to me. Now as an executive myself, I’ve had the opportunity to experience both sides, and I have a much different suggestion for recognizing your stellar assistant today.

    That’s right. I would like to address the leaders and executives out there and give you a word of advice. This year for Administrative Professional’s Day, reconsider the bouquet of flowers and rethink the gift cards. Yes, they are appreciated, but to put it bluntly, your assistants are hungry for more. More enrichment. More skills. More preparation. And quite honestly, you’re going to be asking more of your assistants in the coming years, so it behooves you to ensure your administrative team is prepared and well-equipped for the future.

    What is my suggestion instead of traditional gifts? Provide them with continuing education and professional development opportunities. Consider sending your assistant to a workshop, conference, or designation course. A stellar event can be transformative for an administrative assistant. If you pick the right event, you’ll see your assistant come back more confident, capable, and eager. As an executive myself, I believe this is a wise investment because:

    1. You’ll become more efficient without needing to lift a finger. A top-tier assistant can make your life easier. When a team member begins to work more effectively, everyone around them will reap the rewards.

    2. You’ll have the chance to watch someone grow. You likely hired your assistant because you saw potential in them. Next, you need to supply the water to someone you felt was a good seed. Now watch what happens.

    3. It allows you to invest in the business as a whole. As leaders, we’re always looking for the most bang for our buck. If you consider the perspective that an investment in your administrative assistant equates to an investment in the growth of your business, the dollars and cents add up.

    Take a look at the Office Dynamics website to see all of the events and conferences we host throughout the year. This is our industry, and we know it inside and out. I can assure you that sending your assistant to one of my events will yield many more dividends than any bouquet of flowers ever could.

    The post Administrative Professional’s Day: Best Gift for Your Assistant appeared first on Office Dynamics - Executive And Administrative Assistant Training.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:27:26 on 2020/03/18 Permalink
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    Survival Tactics for Administrative Professionals During Chaotic Times 


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    Disasters and chaotic times dramatically impact our personal and professional lives. And while, with time most situations improve, reoccurrence in the future is inevitable.

    How do you manage external responsibilities, such as children and family, keep up with workload demands and safeguard yourself from difficult times in the world? Adaptability.

    At Office Dynamics International, Secretaries, Executive Assistants, and Administrative Assistants alike have approached us on skills, tactics, and traits to implement in order to achieve agility and survive the pressures of today’s society.

    The Administrative Professional Adapting to Working From Home

    Working from home has become a new reality for many US workers. Some of the biggest challenges experienced are isolation, time-management, and communication barriers among staff members. What’s more, as schools shut down across the US, working parents must juggle company and family priorities simultaneously.

    Working from home for an unknown period of time is uncharted territory for many. How do you adjust your routine for maximum productivity and efficiency? What should you do to deal with isolation and your sanity after being home all day with children, spouses, and pets?

    Working from the office is just as complex. Earlier this month you may have been scheduling business trips, events and negotiating with vendors. Fast forward to now; you’re vigorously putting out fires, redoing your Executive’s calendar, receiving cancellations and making them too. Business priorities have shifted, tensions are flaring and expectations are doubling each day. 

    Additionally, financial uncertainties caused by company closures and layoffs impact more than the economy, your livelihood as you know it is at stake. It takes the right mental attitude to navigate through these personal and professional complexities.

    Survival Tactics Series for Administrative Professionals

    Joan Burge has created a micro-learning series called Survival Tactics for Administrative Professionals During Chaotic Times. Receive pertinent, palpable information in 30 minutes, 2 times a week for 3 weeks.

    • Embrace a Warrior Mindset
    • Working in Tandem with Your Leader
    • Timely and Effective Communications
    • Being Resilient During Turbulent Times
    • Riding the Wave of Change
    • Self-Management and Personal Care

    While professional, financial and familial stressors will present themselves through and through, you’ll be equipped with in-demand tools to address them, and at times people, whilst maintaining your patience and decorum.

    The post Survival Tactics for Administrative Professionals During Chaotic Times appeared first on Office Dynamics - Executive And Administrative Assistant Training.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:15:00 on 2020/02/13 Permalink
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    I’m a Bored Executive Assistant – Is It Time to Move On? 


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    Ask an Admin was created by Office Dynamics to help administrative professionals with their problems through the help of their peers. We don’t always have an answer to each individual’s problem but we know some of you might. Please read the question and comment below.

    EA with Brains asks:

    How to approach this situation?

    I work for a C-level executive who gives me tasks to do even though I’ve asked my executive if there’s anything I can do to assist with project-related work. I’m bored and not sure if it’s time to search for another job. I’m over 50 and may not get a match in salary (I’m highly compensated).

    Thank you!

    Please share your thoughts and advice in the comments below.


    Want to learn more about Ask an Admin and how to submit your own question? Click here

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    The post I’m a Bored Executive Assistant – Is It Time to Move On? appeared first on Office Dynamics - Executive And Administrative Assistant Training.

     
  • feedwordpress 21:39:58 on 2020/01/21 Permalink
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    The Vanishing Executive Assistant—NOT! 


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    I would like to address the recent article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on January 18, 2020 by Rachel Feintzeig regarding The Vanishing Executive Assistant.

    First, I have been entrenched in the administrative profession for 50 years. I worked in the profession for 20 years before starting Office Dynamics in 1990. Office Dynamics specifically focuses on training and development for administrative professionals of all levels. I have written 5 books for assistants, educated 300,000+ assistants, have worked with 70+ Fortune 500 companies, and coached 300+ executive/assistant teams.

    The article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is showing a small piece of what is transpiring in the profession. I am happy this article got published because it demonstrates the flaws in how people think about the administrative profession and how companies are overlooking these vital contributors.

    The writer immediately points out that technology and automation have chipped away at duties like papers to be filed and landlines to be answered. Yes, thank goodness for that because assistants have brainpower that goes way beyond those basic duties. And yet assistants help file digital documents and manage calls through their cell phones, so the skills required for these tasks haven’t completely gone away.

    Next, the article says that new generation leaders are content to schedule their meetings and book flights. The issue with this is that leaders should not be doing so. They are not paid the big bucks to manage a calendar and book flights. Leaders are hired to impact the bottom line, build strategic plans, and lead people. On top of that, these leaders don’t do a very good job of managing their schedules because they don’t have time to look at their calendar from a holistic perspective. A great executive assistant looks at the entire calendar for a month—what happened last week? What is going on this week? What types of meetings are scheduled—are they high level with stakeholders? Which meetings can get canceled and which meetings absolutely must take place? What is coming up on the calendar for the next three weeks? Managing a calendar takes brains; it should not be done on autopilot.

    Regarding the big reduction in positions mentioned:

    1. According to federal data, 1.6 million secretarial and administrative assistants’ jobs have been eliminated. I am curious if this data is accurate because there are over 40 titles today for the administrative profession. They range from administrative coordinator, department coordinator, marketing assistant to executive business partner.
    2. Of course, the numbers have gone way down because of technology which led to companies thinking “Let’s have an assistant support more than one person.” The problem is some companies have gone too far by expecting one assistant to support a group of 30 or 40. This really does not give the assistant an opportunity to be a true assistant.

    Often referred to as a dying breed, let me explain.

    • What is dying is the way the work is being done
    • What is dying are the old stereotypes
    • What is dying is the boxed job description that limited secretaries from their full potential
    • What is dying is being the office mom

    Thank goodness!

    This is a very exciting time for the administrative professional. Their role is expansive. Executives want strategic business partners, which by the way, was acknowledged 20 years ago and now is being referred to more than ever. Executive assistants are running meetings, making hiring decisions, giving presentations, negotiating contracts, managing budgets and are considered co-leaders.

    Regarding the assistants referred to in the article who are 50 and older having difficulties finding jobs. I have read and agree that ageism exists in the workplace. Yet, I personally know several assistants in their 60s and 70s who are landing very good jobs. In fact, one executive assistant I know landed the best job of her career at the age of 70! She received the biggest salary of her lifetime with all kinds of perks. She is living it up. I can attest, though, that this executive assistant has never stopped learning, growing, and staying fresh. She attended many of our live workshops and assembled a powerful career portfolio. This executive assistant updated her look and has stayed on the cutting edge.

    One reason why assistants might have difficulty finding a new job later in their life is they aren’t looking at all the skills they utilized during their administrative career. They are solely looking at the titles they had and so are the potential employers. The executive assistant should look at the skills utilized during their career and market those instead, such as managing projects with competing deadlines, prioritizing multiple tasks and schedules, executing corporate plans, effectively communicating directives, implementing their executive’s plan, developing processes, planning events and the list goes on and on. Many of the skills I learned as an executive assistant gave me a strong foundation when I started my training business and have carried me through leading a global company for 30 years.

    In reference to assistants not having time to bond or create relationships with their executives, that is true. They are managing a lot of moving pieces. Yet everyone in the workplace has gotten away from something that is critical to building rapport and creating long-lasting relationships. It’s what I refer to as “Human Moments.” Automation and technology are good to a point but is also destroying families, relationships, communities, and marriages.

    I talk with thousands of assistants and managers who think they are communicating with each other because they text or email each other all day. This is not communicating. When an executive and assistant have a daily huddle in person or on the telephone they have opportunities to clarify what they are saying, build context around a task (like scheduling a meeting); they can forecast what’s on the horizon and anticipate obstacles.

    I am disappointed that the writer did not interview more companies. Her article mainly focuses on the Ernst & Young model, which is to hire younger people with college degrees, pay them half as much while supporting more people. This implies that being an executive assistant does not take brains and that simply is not true. Today’s assistant is a cognitive being. While there are some assistants who only take orders and do the tasks, they really don’t understand the scope of this role.

    I have worked with these young college people and they are wonderful. They are enthusiastic, engaged, and tech-savvy. But they don’t know how to be an executive’s business partner, nor do they understand business protocol. In 2019, I was hired by a large financial firm in San Francisco to develop and facilitate a boot camp for 5 young assistants with college degrees. I asked the executive, “Why are you requiring college degrees for your executive assistant positions?” The executive responded, “Because the kids coming out of high school today just aren’t at the knowledge level that we used to see.”

    Several former assistants at Ernst & Young say they had an inkling their roles might be in jeopardy when the firm required them to pass a series of tests on PowerPoint and Excel. Being an excellent assistant is not just about PowerPoint and Excel. This is a huge misconception that society has embraced and projected. Being an executive assistant is a high touch job. Our company, Office Dynamics, focuses on developing interpersonal skills. For 30 years our research with executives, HR, T&D, and assistants continues to place interpersonal skills and the fundamentals at the top of the desired list.

    If a company only thinks a good assistant is someone with great technical skills, they are completely missing the boat and it is no wonder they are eliminating their administrative positions. They clearly do not understand what this role entails and it is a shame because there is this fantastic group of individuals who are eager to support the management team. Not “just anyone” can be an executive assistant.

    “Helping run executives’ lives—have faded away.” Yes and no. I know several executive assistants who are on call 24/7. They choose to have this role. It is their life mission and passion to support their CEO in running a business and managing their life. I have been on both sides of the desk, remember? 20 years as an assistant and 30 years as a CEO. Believe me, there are many things I do not want to do that my executive assistant is quite capable of handling. I want to focus on what I do best.

    McKinsey Global Institute said up to 10 million women across 6 mature economies will switch roles by 2030 as office support jobs disappear. If companies do the right thing and see the executive assistant’s role as they should, they will not eliminate so many positions. As many assistants leave the profession, new ones are joining every day. These young assistants are savvy, hungry, and want to help move an organization forward.

    The WSJ article stated that Dana Muldrow said she has embraced life without an admin but admitted she felt unsure what tasks to assign her. This is another area that needs to change. Managers and executives don’t know what to delegate or how to work with an assistant. It isn’t the assistant’s fault that their talents aren’t being utilized. This is also why my company has been teaching executives for 30 years how to maximize the time and talents of their assistants.

    I wish that Rachel would have included stories about the amazing companies who are creating career paths for their administrative community, purposely recruiting graduates to come into the profession, training and developing their assistants, and even implementing succession planning. This is because when a C-Suite executive needs to replace or add an assistant, they don’t have time for someone to get up to speed. They need an assistant who can jump in, take the reins, and be their business partner.

    Higher demands are being placed on executive assistants to expand their skills and develop business acumen, leadership, executive presence, problem-solving, and strategic planning. UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business is now offering a program for executive assistants that mirrors their executive leadership program. The cost is about $30,000.

    There is an amazing Admin Awards program now for assistants. It is referred to as the Academy Awards for Admins and is held in 5 cities. Southwest Airlines is a major sponsor.

    As of today, on LinkedIn these are the stats for titles related to this profession:

    • Administrative Assistant – 9,905,134
    • Executive Assistant – 5,765,649
    • Administrative Professional – 4,395,025 results

    That is almost 20,000 Million in the profession and that doesn’t include everyone. That is a pretty impressive number.

    Titles will change and so will responsibilities. The numbers may or may not continue to decrease. But one thing I know for certain is that there will always be executives who need an administrative business partner. And there will always be individuals who will thrive and make this their Career of Choice.

    Please feel free to leave comments below and be sure to share this to spread the good news about the administrative profession.

    Joan Burge

    January 21, 2020

     

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    The post The Vanishing Executive Assistant—NOT! appeared first on Office Dynamics - Executive And Administrative Assistant Training.

     
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