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


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    administrative_assistants

     

    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.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:00:00 on 2020/01/16 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Self Development   

    Be a Trailblazing Assistant 


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    Your office environment is a mix of workers and trailblazers, and the two have nothing to do with titles. Workers tend to know their job and only their job. They work with their heads down. They show up but show little interest in understanding the business as a whole and working to further the vision of the organization. They may be really good at what they do, but the overall value they bring to the company is lacking because they’re not part of the bigger picture.

    Assistants who are trailblazers are valuable team members who understand the business, work for its best interest, and strive to succeed in every interaction and every project. They ingrain themselves into the culture of the company. They are constantly willing to go above and beyond to work for the best interest of the company. These assistants are the team members who elevate to a higher level and are invited to become members of the executive team. They truly serve as value-added partners. That means they never work on autopilot. They are constantly awake, aware, and engaged at work. Because of the way they work, they are able to consistently provide benefit to the organization. Here are some great ways you can show you are a team member who can add value:

    Demonstrate discipline.

    It can be easy to get distracted at work, especially for those assistants who work in an open office space. You may become bogged down in unimportant tasks and overlook critical ones. Don’t let that happen! Work with focus and discipline.

    Streamline your job.

    Always strive to develop innovative and effective ways to accomplish tasks and assignments. Doing something one way simply because you’ve always done it that way means you’re not working to improve. Take some time to think about each task you do and see if you can improve the process. The goal should be efficiency and effectiveness.

    Understand your company’s brand and always work to further it.

    As an assistant, you are in a prime position to do so. Demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to become familiar with the objectives of your company and that you know how to contribute to its betterment will truly set you ahead of the pack.

    It’s time to ask yourself a question: Am I a worker or a trailblazer? If you’re ready to blaze your own trail, look at Joan’s newest eBook, Earning Your Place on the Executive Team.


    The post Be a Trailblazing Assistant appeared first on Office Dynamics - Executive And Administrative Assistant Training.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:30:40 on 2019/11/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , Self Development   

    Administrative Assistants Broaden Your Skillset 


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    administrative_skill_setsAt our recent Annual Conference for Administrative Excellence, I surveyed 350 attendees about the topics they would like me to address at future conferences or training events. I wanted to know the areas the assistants were interested in growing and learning about.

     

    We had each attendee write their idea or ideas on an index card; we collected the cards; and I read every single card, some of which had more than one topic listed. From the index cards, I created a chart.

     

    What surprised me after looking at the list was that many of the requests had to do with the typical administrative skills or tasks such as: managing multiple managers, dealing with difficult people, managing stress, calendar management, and troubleshooting. I hardly saw requests for advanced competencies or areas of interest.

     

    As we get to the end of this year and are on the cusp of a new decade, I want you to seriously give thought to your career. Make some time for you! Assistants are great at taking care of everyone else and not making time for themselves. While this is admirable, it’s not cool! If you want to be viewed as a strategic partner and considered an extension of the management team, you need to make time to look at your own development.

     

    Here is my advice in step order.

     

    1. Over the next few months, make time to consider where you need to grow in 2020. Break it into two main areas:
      1. Soft skills
      2. Hard skills (be specific)

     

    When it comes to figuring out your soft skills, enlarge your vision; don’t just look at the tasks such as meeting planning or calendaring. For example, what are the skills you need to be excellent at meeting planning?

    • Excellent communication skills
    • See the big picture
    • Attention to detail
    • Analytical skills
    • Critical thinking
    • Persuasion
    • Problem solving
    • The ability to execute

    These will give you a clue as to the skills you need to develop.

     

    1. What is your learning preference? Do you prefer live classes or online? Think about how you learn BEST not necessarily what is easy and convenient. I surveyed our administrative conference attendees about their preference, and I was pleasantly surprised to see live classroom training still far outweighed live webinar, online courses, and blogs/articles. Personally, I prefer live classes or conferences over online.

     

    1. Take into consideration your budget. However, there are exceptions. Your organization may not have a budget for your training but that does not mean you can’t take training. Learn to invest in yourself. It is the best investment you will ever make.

     

    1. Research learning opportunities. When I started Office Dynamics 30 years ago, there was not one training company solely devoted to administrative and secretarial training. Today, there are hundreds of options for assistants to learn and grow.

     

    At Office Dynamics, we offer A – Z when it comes to programs, courses, materials, and events. We have learning tools that accommodate every budget. Find what is right for you.

     

    Word of Caution: While there are hundreds of choices for administrative assistants today, do your homework. Everyone out there does not know what to teach assistants. Some have never even been an assistant. Be a good researcher and get accurate information. Also, ask for referrals.

     

    1. Write a plan. This is the hard part and most people (of all walks of life) don’t want to take the time to write a plan. Yes, this is the most difficult part. However, once your plan is in place, it is easy. You can break down your plan to quarterly or monthly if that makes it easier.

     

    1. Find an accountability partner. An accountability partner is someone who will tell you what you need to hear and nudge you when you get complacent.

     

    1. Execute! Don’t make excuses. We all are busy and can easily say, “I’m too busy. I don’t have time for this.” Or a popular one for assistants is, “I can’t leave my desk. My executive just won’t function without me.” Believe me, they will be fine, and, in fact, they will appreciate you even more.

     

    Make a commitment now to yourself. You deserve it!

     

    Joan Burge

     

    P.S. Some of the requests I saw from the survey that I liked were career pathing, diversity/inclusion, garnering respect, A. I., leading admin groups, and marketing yourself.

    The post Administrative Assistants Broaden Your Skillset appeared first on Office Dynamics - Executive And Administrative Assistant Training.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:15:32 on 2019/09/04 Permalink
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    6 Ways for Assistants to Gain Respect 


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    A powerful, but underutilized, way for administrative and executive assistants to gain respect and be taken seriously is to exude executive presence. Forbes.com define executive presence as the ability to project gravitas–confidence, poise under pressure and decisiveness. Furthermore, communication—including speaking skills, assertiveness and the ability to read an audience or situation—and appearance contribute to a person’s perceived executive presence.

    When you create executive presence, you are taken more seriously in the workplace and your voice is more clearly heard. Executive presence is a combination of business expertise, competence in a chosen profession and ability to build or connect with others. You do that by:

    1. Delivering information in “headlines.” In my World Class Assistant™ course, attendees will ask me what this means. Just think of a newspaper. We see headlines, right? So, when you are communicating with executives or managers, keep it short, simple, and to the point. They don’t have time for the back story.

    2. Communicating with passion and energy. You get people’s attention when you do this. A goal in communicating is to get people to listen to us. Maybe our goal is to get them to buy into an idea or try something new. Even daily, you can speak with more liveliness. I notice when I speak with more energy, I actually feel energized!

    3. Speaking up. Use strong and clear language. You can do this in a way that does not make you appear to be aggressive.

    4. Using a confident tone. It’s very hard to convince or persuade someone when you come across as hesitant just by the tone of your voice. I recently worked with a CEO of a top Fortune 500 company and coached his assistant. The CEO told me he does not like it when his assistant does not sound confident about something when he asks her a question. The example had to do with a meeting whereby the assistant did not sound sure of the information when questioned by her executive.

    5. Engaging people in conversation. Don’t wait for people to ask you question or start a conversation. We project confidence when we reach out to others and initiate conversation. You will be amazed at how positively people will respond to you when you pay attention to and show an interest in them.

    6. Learning to read your audience or the situation and adapt as necessary. It’s just like what I must do as a speaker and trainer. If I am good at my craft, I pay attention to my audience. I don’t just keep going ahead with what I want to say without noticing how my audience is responding. Your audience may be one or two people. But if you are to be successful, you need to be aware of what is going on with the other person and adapt, if necessary.

    In my World Class Assistant™ course, attendees get to practice projecting executive presence. We do this on the third (last) day of class. They present as a team and discuss the benefits they derived from attending the WCA course. To make it real, the assistants pretend they are presenting to their executives. Each person in the group demonstrates their newly learned skills.

    I hope you will practice the above-mentioned techniques. I am positive you will see results.

    training_for_executive_assistants

    “Of all the programs offered by other training companies that I’ve attended, World Class Assistant™ was much more comprehensive and intense. This program is head and shoulders above the rest! It continues to help raise the bar.”

    – Jennie Forcum, CWCA

    Our World Class Assistant™ course typically sells out so act fast!  In order to deliver a cutting edge, unique experience, we intentionally keep class sizes small.  Don’t spend too long on the fence.  You’ll miss the opportunity of a lifetime!

    Learn More and Register Here.

    The post 6 Ways for Assistants to Gain Respect appeared first on Office Dynamics - Executive And Administrative Assistant Training.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:30:42 on 2019/09/03 Permalink
    Tags: , , Self Development   

    How Can I Start a Group for Administrative Assistants? – Ask an Admin 


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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 individuals problem but we know some of you might. Please read the question and comment below.

    Emily K. asks:

    I live in a town close to admin groups (like Meetup or non-profit groups) but each is at least 1.5 hours away. I would like to start something similar in my town. How would I go about starting a group that will be more than just me, sitting in a coffeehouse by myself?

    Does anyone have any experience putting together and administrative group? Please comment below.

    The post How Can I Start a Group for Administrative Assistants? – Ask an Admin appeared first on Office Dynamics - Executive And Administrative Assistant Training.

     
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