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How to Best Utilize Your Executive Assistant

September 29, 2014

No doubt you have worked hard to climb your way up the corporate ladder. Probably at times throughout your career, you wished there would be two of you to accomplish what you needed to do. And then, you made it to the leadership ranks and voila…an executive assistant appears! This is a dream come true. An extension of yourself. Someone to help you free up more time to be strategic and coach your people. But in the work I do as an Executive Coach, I can tell you that this Executive Assistant Fairy Tale sometimes ends up being just that and the time of the leader and the EA is not utilized as well as it could be. As such, I’d like to share Potential Unlimited’s Top Tips to Working With Your Executive Assistant for Maximum Impact!

1. Get Personal. Any good leader-executive assistant relationship is never 100 per cent professional. It becomes a unique relationship filled with mutual respect and love.  Take the time to learn about this person who works closely with you. Ask about her family life and interests. Be sure to share personal information about yourself too. Of course you don’t need to fill your days listening to each other’s problems, but the more you know about each other, the more connected your relationship will become.

2. Carve out Boundaries. Creating boundaries with your EA isn’t something to leave to fate.You need to reflect on what your boundaries are and communicate that clearly to your EA. He or she needs to know what you want, what your preferences are and how to best help you get what you need.  This can change from time to time so it is a good idea to sit down once a year and talk to him or her about exactly what you need.

3. Respect. Your Executive Assistant could be one of the most meaningful people in your life. But sometimes, we treat those who are the closest to us with the least respect. Remember, this person has the ability to make or break your career just as you have the same influence on that person. Treat them very well. Show them respect in front of other colleagues as well as behind closed doors. Taking the time to thank them and recognize them will pay spades.

4. Delegate. Write down a list of the things you need to accomplish today. Now delegate 60 per cent of that to your team members and EA. I am hearing gasps. Your role is to lead and be strategic. Chances are you are working on things that are chewing up your leadership time.  Figure out your hourly wage (based on the number of hours you are in the office). Is it really worth it for the company to be paying you $100 an hour or more to work on planning a lunch or double checking the menu? Let go of control for your sake and for the sake of your EA.

5. Speak Your Mind.  If your EA is proceeding in a way that isn’t working for you, don’t just remain quiet and try to carry the extra load yourself. If it is not a big deal than yes, let it go as it is and DON’T change it yourself. But if something isn’t working for you, you need to tell him.

6. Be Flexible. Executive Assistants work very hard. Their roles can be demanding. There may be times when you are travelling and can give them a few hours off as a special reward. You need to be respectful about your company’s culture but there are lots of creative ways you can show your EA that you appreciate her. Being a leader means thinking about retention of good people on the team.

7. Ask Their Opinions.  Executive Assistants are extremely knowledgable. They hear the ‘word on the street’ from the staff at your organization, but they are also privy to leadership conversations and projects through their work with you. No other person at your organization will be able to flow so seamlessly through both levels. As such, ask them their opinions on projects. Get their thoughts.  They will appreciate that you care about their ideas and will have some great input. Tell them which of their ideas you have incorporated so she/he can understand the contribution they have made.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Gary & Marilyn Greenham permalink
    September 30, 2014 7:31 pm

    Well done!

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