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  • feedwordpress 21:39:58 on 2020/01/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , Work Environment   

    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.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:40:12 on 2019/08/13 Permalink
    Tags: , , Work Environment   

    Do You Have an Internal Admin Site or Hold Lunch N Learns Where You Work? 


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    tips_for_administrative_assistants

    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.

    Admin on SF Peninsula asks:

    Looking forward to your replies!

    Do you have an internal admin site where you work? Or maybe you’re thinking of creating one?

    I co-designed one at my company and am interested in collaborating with you.

    An internal admin site is the main company site with all the links that admins find useful for their jobs centralized in one place.

    Additionally, I am considering starting a monthly Admin Lunch N Learn at my place of work. My current vision would be to rotate topics and have a combination of speakers coming in. Topics related to the administrative profession would be discussed. Admins and outside speakers would have the opportunity to share their skills, experience, knowledge, etc.

    If you have been a part of, or have attended anything such as these, I would like to connect with you to discuss.

    I’m looking forward to your responses!

    Admin on SF Peninsula

    The post Do You Have an Internal Admin Site or Hold Lunch N Learns Where You Work? appeared first on Office Dynamics - Executive And Administrative Assistant Training.

     
  • feedwordpress 12:00:13 on 2019/08/06 Permalink
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    Set Healthy Boundaries at Work 


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    An important component to self-management versus stress-management is to set healthy boundaries in the workplace. In this article what kind of boundaries and with whom.

    As administrative assistants and executive assistants, you can often feel like setting boundaries might get you fired or your leader will think you are not a team player. Some people think when I’m talking about setting boundaries, it has to do with sexual harassment in the workplace.

    Boundaries can be set any time, any place, on anything, and with any person. I’ll give you a perfect example. I was at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas waiting in the security line and was in line to pass my carry on through the screening process. (Keep in mind; I travel quite frequently for business, so I know what I’m doing.) I was quickly placing my laptop in the bin, folding my raincoat up, taking off my shoes, and putting my purse on the conveyer when all of a sudden, this young woman who had been in line behind me, stepped right in front of me with 2 suitcases and placed them on the conveyer. She still needed to take off her shoes – and she didn’t know she was supposed to take off her jacket.

    You are probably thinking, “So what?” So what? It was rude that she thought she could just jump in front of me especially when she wasn’t ready. It was not as if she said, “May I go ahead of you?” I nicely told her that she couldn’t cut in front of me. Of course, she looked at me in shock and made a few comments. (I will spare the details of our back and forth dialogue.) She finally took her items and moved behind me and told me to have a nice day.

    A boundary in the office for an administrative assistant can be as simple as addressing a coworker or manager who constantly steps into your workspace and takes your desk supplies without asking and doesn’t return them.  If that bothers you, say something.

    Another boundary you might need to set is your accessibility after hours to your leader as far as emails go. This is becoming problematic for assistants all over the world. As I travel and talk to hundreds of administrative office professionals ranging from administrators to executive assistants, I’m hearing them say they are spending too much of their personal time (evenings or weekends) managing and/or responding to emails from their leader.  One administrative assistant said that her manager did not expect her to check business emails or take action on non-work hours.  But she wanted to get a jump on things or was curious as to what was going on or wanted to read emails on Sunday night to be prepared for Monday morning. The problem is… she started responding to her leader’s emails and taking action steps if required. Today, she is frustrated because she spends 50% of her weekend working. I told her, “You created the monster.”  It wasn’t required of her and while she thought nothing of it at first, it snowballed and now she will have to say something to her leader.

    • First, do not create situations that you will later regret.
    • Second, people will act as we allow them to. If you don’t say something when something isn’t right, then the person assumes it is okay.
    • Third, professionally communicate when setting boundaries yet be firm.

    Healthy boundaries are good for you and those you work with.  It teaches them how to work with you in a way that stimulates win-win situations. You enjoy your work environment and are more enjoyable to work with. You are confident, peaceful, in control (not walked over), respected, like a peer or business partner and viewed as a leader. Consider what types of boundaries you might need to implement this week.

    Learning Highlights
    You will learn: 

    • How to evaluate your current communication and boundary-setting style so you can build on your strengths and address areas for improvement.
    • Why assertiveness in the workplace matters, especially for assistants, how it benefits you and what it really means. (Hint: It is often totally misunderstood!)
    • How to recognize and minimize the risk involved so your message is received and your professional image remains intact.
    • How to appropriately set limits, voice your ideas and opinions, and articulate your needs using thoughtful, diplomatic communication techniques.
    • 7 essential action steps for becoming a more assertive assistant. (You will hear examples and learn specific language to use in common challenging workplace situations.)

    60% OFF until 8/9/19 – Use code: HEALTHY

    The post Set Healthy Boundaries at Work appeared first on Office Dynamics - Executive And Administrative Assistant Training.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:00:38 on 2019/08/05 Permalink
    Tags: , Work Environment   

    How to Develop a Strong EA Group in a Company – 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.

    Katrien B asks:

    We are a start-up company with offices in EMEA and in the US. In EMEA (HQ) we have 2 EA’s and in the US 3.

    As EA we encounter numerous challenges in working together due to different times zones, but we do our best to let our executives shine.

    I would like to develop a strong EA group in the company as I believe this is important to our role, our business, as well as to our own professional and personal growth.

    We should be able to build a relationship of trust, help each other with a servant’s heart (as we do towards our execs) and show the importance of our role.

    To enhance good collaboration and communication I set up virtual coffee meetings with all EA’s.

    The first meeting was good as a “get to know each other better in an informal way” although one EA did not find it important to attend.

    For our second meeting, there are no topics…
    I prefer not to cancel the meetings as that may seem as if they are not important.

    How can I stimulate other EA’s to be more active and communicative?

    How can I build a relationship of trust and understanding with them?

    Due to different communication styles and cultural differences misunderstandings happen. EA’s in EMEA (as I am) often feel bad because of the language style of our peers in the US. Some do not feel the same way about the EA role.

    How can I make other EA’s aware of the importance of our role during this virtual coffee?

    How can I stimulate them to attend? 

    It saddens me that some don’t care.

    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

    The post How to Develop a Strong EA Group in a Company – Ask an Admin appeared first on Office Dynamics - Executive And Administrative Assistant Training.

     
  • feedwordpress 15:20:02 on 2019/07/11 Permalink
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    My Boss is Leaving: How Can I best Help her Transition Out? – 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.

    Alice S. asks:

    My beloved manager/leader/friend is leaving our company at the end of July.  Her departure is going to be shocking to her peers and direct reports.  She is well-loved, unique in her approach and will be missed.  My question is, how can I help make her transition smooth?  What things should I focus on?  Processes to create or follow?  I’m anticipating a lot of stress around this for our company once they find out next week, and want to help her prepare for it.  I almost don’t know where to begin. In over 20 years of experience, this is a first for me.

    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

    The post My Boss is Leaving: How Can I best Help her Transition Out? – Ask an Admin appeared first on Office Dynamics - Executive And Administrative Assistant Training.

     
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