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  • feedwordpress 14:00:43 on 2017/01/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Multiple Managers,   

    Executives and Assistants Working in Partnership — The Magic Formula 

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    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.

  • feedwordpress 09:38:11 on 2016/12/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , from idea to action, how to communicate with your executive, how to communication with your boss, how to get information from your leader, , , , Multiple Managers, new skills for assistants, , , , , ,   

    Revolutionary Ways Assistants Can Get Information from Their Managers 

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    The theme for our 23rd Annual Conference for Administrative Excellence was The Revolutionary Assistant. Our conference was held in October 2016 in Las Vegas. We had 450 assistants from 11 countries attend.

    Our team-building activity for 2016 was called Compression Planning®: From Idea to Action and Results Faster. Annette Brown who is a certified McNellis Compression Planning Instructor hosted the session with my assistance.

    We were really excited about this activity because the main goal was to get assistants to come up with revolutionary solutions on time-old problems such as managers not making time for their assistants; managers not providing sufficient information to their assistants; handling constantly changing priorities; getting support for training and development.

    The concept I loved most about Compression Planning is to move “it” from the conversation to the action. For more than 4 decades assistants have been complaining about the same issues (I mentioned above). When I was an assistant 40 years ago we complained about not getting time with our executives; we complained about not getting enough information from our managers; we complained about not getting support for training.

    And yet here we are 40 years later and I still here the same complaints from assistants. We have to stop having these same conversations over and over. The idea is to come up with revolutionary answers that will create change and therefore create better conversations.

    Our team-building session was 2 hours long and we just touched the surface. I can’t possibly share everything with you about Compression Planning.

    But what we did promise our attendees is that we would share the 4 main issues we covered during the session and provide all the answers our 450 attendees developed. The 4 main topics to be addressed were:

    1. Revolutionary ways to get the communication and information you need from your manager.
    2. Revolutionary ways to approach your leader to get their undivided attention and more one-on-one time with them.
    3. Revolutionary ways to handle constantly changing priorities and increasing work volume.
    4. Revolutionary ways to gain true manager support for your ongoing professional development.

    I will write one blog for each issue and we will provide the 25 ideas for each topic that our attendees developed. By the way, all 450 attendees did not work on all 4 issues. We broke the room into quadrants and a section of the room worked on 1 of the 4 issues.

    Let’s take the first topic/issue regarding managers and executives not providing enough information to their assistants. First I’d like to give you some background information. In 2015, Jasmine Freeman sent out a survey to our webinar attendees and asked them to identify one thing that was standing in the way or was a barrier in their relationship with their manager. We received 700 responses!!! Wow. That was huge. And I read every single response. I realized that 80% of the assistants could resolve their problems if they would communicate with their executives or if they would have courageous conversations with their executives.

    From the survey responses, I created a chart to show our conference attendees the types of issues assistants were having around their executives and communications.

    communicationSince there is a long list of ideas, I have pulled what I consider the top 4 and will expand on them. Then you will see the entire list.

    #1 Idea: Establish and protect regular 1:1 time with manager.

    This is the #1 solution according to my 46 years’ experience in the profession on both sides of the desk!! I have coached over 200 executive/assistant teams. When I instruct them to have daily huddles as the solution to 80% of their issues, they always get back to me and tell me that is the best lesson I taught them….ever!

    You might be wondering what you would discuss in meetings with your manager.

    Here are some ideas:

    Daily Calendars Technology is not perfect and neither are humans. It is easy to place a wrong time or wrong date on a calendar. Or because so many leaders are independent, they place events on their own calendars and forget to inform their administrative partner.

    Accuracy in scheduling is extremely important. Leaders are TOO BUSY to have hiccups in their schedules. Plus it is embarrassing to the leader or the administrative person who set the schedule.

    Many administrators are now handling their leader’s pre-read meeting materials by printing, reviewing and flagging them as appropriate. Many administrative professionals are doing research, preparing outgoing pre-reads and filtering e-mail note strings for their leader in preparation for a meeting. (Gone are the days when administrators simply reserved a conference room and readied it for the meeting!)

    Discuss E-mail Communications When it comes to e-mail management, there are various approaches. Some leaders want their administrative partner to read all their e-mails and take action on those e-mails. Another approach is the leader who wants to manage all his or her own e-mails and forward specific e-mail to their administrative partner as appropriate.

    Your daily huddles are the time for leaders and the administrative partner to update each other on e-mail communications, whether it is a status update or clarifying new actions to be taken.

    Department Issues This is a good time to discuss any departmental problems that need your leader’s attention. Administrative professionals are often privy to information within the department or are aware of potential personnel issues. These should be brought to the attention of their leader before a situation escalates.

    Status Updates Provide your leader with updates on projects, meetings, items you are working on, and any other pertinent information. Leaders do not like to have to ask the status of projects and tasks. (Nor do they have the time.) A Star-achieving assistant initiates status updates.

    Upcoming Travel Find out about upcoming trips so you can anticipate schedules and prepare necessary travel materials. At least bi-weekly, you and your leader should review the calendar for upcoming events as far as three months out.

    Follow-up Items Bring to your leader’s attention information requested from staff that you have not yet received. You can also let your leader know whose work you have received.

    Special Projects Find out what special projects your leader is working on or has coming up in the next few weeks. Ask if there are any portions of the project you can work on. Is there any research that needs to be done? Will information necessary for the project be coming from others inside or outside the company? If so, can you start assembling that information? Are presentations, graphs or charts required? If so, how many?

    Time: Investment or Expense?
    It might initially appear as though these meetings might involve a tremendous amount of time, but they don’t when you meet on a regular basis because things don’t have a chance to build up. In fact, it keeps everything flowing smoothly, reduces chances of missed details or tasks falling through the cracks, eliminates chaos and reduces last-minute crunches. Whether you view time spent as an investment or an expense can often be based on the filter with which you view time in general.


    #2 Idea: Develop confidence to not accept “one word” answers.

    This is when you ask your executive something like, “Can I help you with something?” and they say, “No.” Or you might ask, “Do you have everything you need for that meeting?” And they say yes. Imagine asking instead, “What else do you need to be fully prepared for your meeting?” Or “What are we missing that would be vital to you having a successful meeting?” By changing a question, you change the answer you receive.
    So if you want more information and you want to be in the know, then you need to ask different and better questions. Then you’ll get more of what you want.


    #3 Idea: Participate in leadership meetings.

    Often when I tell assistants they should sit in on their executive’s staff meeting or other leadership meetings, they ask how they will ever get their work done. Or they will tell me they are too busy to get away from their desk.


    Well, that is not thinking like a strategic business partner. If you are your executive’s business partner you need to learn and hear as much as you can about the business and what is going on with their work, team and project.
    I attended such meetings when I was an assistant. Yes, it was to be away from my desk but I always found it time well spent. I learned so much. I especially learned about upcoming assignments, projects, events and meetings. I heard the actions my executive delegated to others in the meeting. This allowed me to be more proactive; be better at following up on assignments and deadlines; anticipate workloads; anticipate barriers; and take the initiative. Your executive cannot possibly keep you up on everything they are exposed to. So it is your job to insert yourself so you can get the information you need.


    #4 Idea: Train manager on how to utilize admins (you).

    Great idea. If you don’t tell your manager that you aren’t getting the information you need, they will continue doing what they have always done. This is because they will assume they are doing a good job at communicating with you.
    Do yourself and your manager a favor by letting him or her know what you need in order to be more successful which ultimately makes your manager more successful in their work.
    Teach your manager to have daily one-on-ones with you. I did that when I was an assistant and my managers loved our morning touch bases. It was a great way to start our day.


    As you read the rest of the ideas generated by attendees at our Annual Conference for Administrative Excellence, ask yourself the following:

    1. Have I tried this? If yes, did it work? If it did not work, why didn’t it work? Do I need to use a different approach? Maybe it wasn’t good timing.
    2. Is this a truly revolutionary idea? I have not thought of this or tried. Be willing to try it and give the idea sufficient time.
    3. Since you can’t do everything at once, pick the topic 5 ideas that you like and might be different from the approach you have used in the past.
    4. Then determine your strategy for implementing that idea.

    Revolutionary ways to get the communication and information you need from your manager.

    • Develop trust
    • Communicate your style preference for receiving information
    • Align schedules to have time to talk
    • Consolidate emails/list
    • Train to manage
    • Attend management executive and assistant retreat together
    • Shared calendar
    • Assistant copied on email
    • Utilize internal SM and messaging apps for knowledge sharing
    • “Stand up” meetings
    • Establish and protect regular 1:1 time with manager (courageous conversations with manager first)
    • Develop compression planning sessions with administrative professionals and management
    • Develop technology to assist with mind reading and increase efficiency
    • Ask for feedback session on both ends
    • Establish guidelines for communication by learning their communication style
    • Set-up meeting detail template
    • Creating a timeline to gather information you need to continue the work
    • Schedule daily meetings to discuss action list accommodating executive schedule
    • Schedule daily briefings in a flexible type of communication with a trial run period
    • Identify high priority issues and bring them to attention and insert agenda into calendar
    • Utilize color-coding to prioritize emails and calendar
    • Utilize communication applications like Slack, Asana and Trello
    • Prepare executive for success for real time updates
    • Utilize apps, texting, have your cell on your person
    • Protect downtime for executive
    • Adding buffer times to meetings
    • Schedule recurring 1:1 meetings with your executive
    • Establish equality
    • Getting a seat at the table

    Special Note for 2016 Conference Attendees:

    I’d like to present a few challenges to you:

    1. After you see this information, would you share the revolutionary thinking with other assistants? Maybe use your network to share.
    2. Share the top 3 things you learned with your manager.

    Best of luck!

    Joan Burge

    P.S. If you want to learn Compression Planning and see everything we did at our conference session, you can purchase our 2016 Conference on Demand. Plus you will receive 10 other fabulous sessions with our amazing speakers.

    The post Revolutionary Ways Assistants Can Get Information from Their Managers appeared first on Office Dynamics.

  • feedwordpress 09:49:15 on 2016/11/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , challenges in the workplace, , , Huemor, , , Multiple Managers, perspective, , supporting multiple managers, working with multiple bosses,   

    Opposites Attract: 3 Benefits of Having 2 Bosses In The Workplace 

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    Having two bosses can sometimes feel like a good cop/bad cop situation if they’re not on the same page or if they employ different styles of leadership. That might be effective in accomplishing their goals, but it’s not always the best approach for keeping employees happy and productive. But having two founders at the top doesn’t always mean chaos or mixed messages. With the right dynamic, it can create a rich, creative environment for employees.

    It would be easy to let our founders speak for themselves about the dynamic of a partnership leading the way at Huemor, the UX agency we work at. They have clearly-defined roles (Mike handles new business, Jeff runs creative and production), they make decisions, hires, and investments together, and they’ve got a singular goal for the future of Huemor. All in all, they’re making it work and we keep growing. And most of our 16 person team has been around since almost the beginning (when Mike and Jeff were working out of a family member’s basement), new clients are constantly coming aboard, and projects are getting bigger and sexier.

    But that’s the easy way. The better way — the juicier way — is from our perspective as employees who report to Mike and Jeff. That’s where the good stuff is. In fact, sometimes it’s not unlike trying to get Dad to say yes to something Mom already said no to, like when whoever’s going on the beer run is angling to fill the fridge with a specific brew — Jeff likes Sam Adams and Brooklyn, Mike likes Blue Point and Shipyard; they’re both always willing to hand over their company card.

    Beyond employee happy hours, their partnership drives the way we work. So it makes sense to show you two benefits of that and, just to be transparent, one challenge.

    Two Bosses Can Bring Balance

    First, it’s nice to have two bosses because there’s a built-in safety net. Their roles balance the needs of the business, so even at our busiest times, we’re not letting anything slip through the cracks. Two sets of eyes are better than one when keeping watch and they’ve learned to support one another in a way that they can put their full focus into their halves of the business. It leads to better direction for employees, more thorough attention to detail in our work, and peace of mind for our clients.

    The Benefit of Multiple Perspectives

    Second, Mike and Jeff have fairly different personalities. Mike likes to say they’ve been married longer than Jeff and his wife have been, and there are times it shows. They don’t bicker, but they certainly bring different perspectives to the table, drawn both from their instincts and their experience. One of our mantras in the office (which literally hangs on the wall) is “Encourage dissenting opinions: discussion is good.” Different perspectives intersecting make our work more creative and more memorable so having two bosses who challenge us and each other works out surprisingly well.

    It’s Not All Sunshine and Rainbows

    If I made it sound like it was all glitter and cheer, I’d probably be lying. So I won’t. It’s worth mentioning that there are times they can drive one another crazy (frankly: not always a bad thing, from the perspective of an underling…). Jeff tends to be happiest when the office is focused and, ya know, getting stuff done. Mike’s never happier than when he’s riding around on a scooter distracting everyone and keeping things light. Deadlines are deadlines and they’re certainly a force to be respected, but sometimes a distraction is exactly what’s needed. Other times, when you’re in the zone, you don’t want to be derailed. Putting on headphones and ignoring the boss probably isn’t the best advice for everyone, but it’s ok around here. Like the best relationships, it’s a give-and-take between Mike and Jeff and between them and everyone else: they challenge us and we challenge them.

    As the holidays approach, we’re wrapping up our biggest year yet. Something must be going right.

    Author Bio: Pete Shelly is a digital strategist at Huemor. Follow Huemor on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

    The post Opposites Attract: 3 Benefits of Having 2 Bosses In The Workplace appeared first on Office Dynamics.

  • feedwordpress 18:15:21 on 2016/10/27 Permalink
    Tags: #keeplearningkeepgrowing, , better business partnership, , , executive assistant partnership, , executives and assistants working in partnership, , , , Multiple Managers, , , , , webinar replay,   

    Webinar Replay Helping Your Executive Maintain a Competitive Edge 

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    Helping Your Executive Maintain a Competitive Edge

    Our webinar replay for Helping Your Executive Maintain a Competitive Edge is now available for viewing.

    Leverage your skills and help your Executive achieve his or her goals by creating a positive reputation both inside and outside the organization.


    Learning Highlights

    As an attendee, you will learn…

    • What “being competitive” really means (for you and your Executive) and why it’s so important to long-term professional success.
    • The 7 key categories of competitive strength you can offer your Executive and how to incorporate them into your daily activities.
    • Simple strategies to engage your mind, think ahead and manage perceptions both internally and externally.
    • Specific actions you must take now to help your Executive leverage your skills and abilities.
    • Learning how to illuminate your Executive’s shining star will be a great reflection on you!


    Watch the replay right here. 

    helping your manager maintain a competitive edge



    In our monthly webinars, Joan speaks for about 40-45 minutes and she then opens it up to a Q&A. Questions can also be added here, in the comments section. We would love to continue this conversation with you.

    Program Notes

    Pre-webinar, review page 1 of your handout to learn how to get the most from this webinar.

    #1 Know Your Industry

    Resources shared in the comments & mentioned by Joan

    #2 Be a Professional Agent of Your Company

    #3 Follow Up

    • While you were out email updates
    • Follow-up systems such as Outlook Tasks, Gannt Chart within SharePoint, Evernote and more (what are you using? Share in the comments.)

    #4 Get to Know Who’s Who

    • What tools are you using for creating an org chart (Joan mentions adding photos to them, share below.)

    #5 Be a Master of Time

    #6 Raise the Bar

    #7 Stay Current on Technology

    More resources shared on the handout.

    • Join us on Facebook for Live Broadcasts and more.


    We also offer a certificate to all who view this program. See below for more information.


    Finally, we offered this special for those of you who view the program. It expires soon so take advantage now… Build a Better Partnership Bundle.

    build a better partnershipRetail value is $186, it’s available until Friday, November 4  for only $50.

    The Build a Better Partnership Bundle Includes:

    • Managing Your Executive’s Day ($99) – On Demand Online Program
    • Executives & Assistants Working In Partnership: The Definitive Guide to Success ($47) – Spiral bound workbook
    • Transformative Strategic Business Partnerships with Your Leader ($39.95) – MP3 Download
    • The Gatekeeper’s Guide – Downloadable PDF
    • Comprehensive Travel Planning Guide – Downloadable PDF
    • Executive Training Videos – Online Access

    Thanks for taking the time to view this month’s free webinar. To join the conversation, please add your comment below.



    Upcoming Webinar

    boost your writing skills

    The post Webinar Replay Helping Your Executive Maintain a Competitive Edge appeared first on Office Dynamics.

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