Executive Assistant Advice

Executive Assistants That Want To Go Above And Beyond But How? – Ask an Admin


Welcome to another question for Ask an Admin. This is where the administrative assistant and executive assistant can submit any question they have and their peers will answer the question based on their previous experience. We believe that there are many different ways to approach problems, difficult tasks, and situations so we thought this would be a great way to provide you a place to share your input as well as receive input from others. So, executive assistants and administrative assistants from around the world, let’s help each other out!

This week Chris B. asks:

I am in an office of approximately 300 and there are 5 admins.  I am the only one who arrives early every day and works the full day.  I am the only one who looks at the bigger office picture and ensures meeting rooms are cleaned/ready; supplies (like copy paper) are always available; know how to handle unexpected guests and vendors; and a variety of other office manager-type things that come up in a standard day.  However, I am not the office manager but a peer to the other admins.  I am consistent and reliable and there – so a lot of things come my way that belong on their desks.  For example, if one of their teams has a meeting at the start of the day, I’m the only one there early and I will get pulled in to take care of the room and technology set-up, have to answer the door and guide guests, get catering/coffee set-up, make last-minute copies or edits, etc.  Their leaders are comfortable relying on me to ensure things are done with professionalism.    Besides feeling taken advantage of and recognizing there is a big disparity between what is now expected from me versus peers – what is the best way to have this discussion with my leader?  I do not want to disparage my peers, nor diminish their work, however, I do want this to be seen as a differentiator between me and the others.  Basically, how do I get seen as providing an exceptional level of service above and beyond my peers without calling them out or making it seem like a complaint?

Wow. That is a tough one. How does an executive assistant, who is already going above and beyond get noticed by the higher-level employees without calling out their peers? Well, Office Dynamics friends and family, let’s help Chris B. out! What can Chris do?

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26 thoughts on “Executive Assistants That Want To Go Above And Beyond But How? – Ask an Admin”

  1. What worked for me was utilizing the One Note function during yearly evaluation and sending it to my boss. I use the tabs as separate functions and explain what has been done under that specific tab. This way it is demonstrated what was done to complete each task (especially the tasks that is not in your job description.) When your boss sits still (which is evaluation time) and actually read everything that has been accomplished for the year, it makes a big difference. The boss might even re-evaluate your position that could result in a promotion. The boss sometimes forget some of your accomplishments. A lot of supervisors don’t mean to forget all you have achieved to make the office operate streamline. That’s why it’s good to remind them. It sounds like you also have an effective relationship with vendors to set up events which is another important action that your boss don’t have to deal with. A Professional Portfolio is another option to give to the boss before the performance evaluation is complete. I know this sounds far fetched, but patience will manifest a positive result.

  2. Elizabeth Blatchford

    I agree with the others above to approach a conversation with your boss from the standpoint of what you have accomplished, rather than highlighting the failures of others. Based upon the additional work you have taken on, you may want to pitch a move to an Office Manager or Administrative Lead/Manager (with a raise, of course). Do your homework about salary and duties and come with only facts.

    1. victoria christin

      Sometimes tooting your own horn does not work. I find myself in the same position as Chris B. When I have brought suggestions about being the office manager because of the extra things I am expected to do, I get answers like “I don’t think there is such a job description in the company.” I have a department of sixty employees and I am the “go to” person when is something needs to get done. I coordinate moves, purchase of supplies and equipment, meeting scheduling, department meetings, guest presenters, etc. I am also in charge of events such as outings for summer and holiday lunches. The best thing to do is to keep on doing what you are doing and hope that they are paying attention. It is rewarding to know that the conference rooms are clean when people go in even if they are not so clean when they come out.

      1. Melissa Hunter

        Your answer depresses me. It sounds like your company does not value your contribution, and you did not push to be recognized. Continuing on and hoping for recognition does not work, you really need to push and advocate for yourself, or you will never get anywhere.

  3. I would present this to my executive as a positive of what YOU are doing. Avoid making it look like you are ratting out others for what they AREN’T doing. Always spin it positive for you while avoiding putting others in a negative light.

  4. I think the real question is does Chris want to continue doing these tasks if she is acknowledged for doing them?

    If the answer is yes, than she should definitely talk with her boss. I would approach it during one of our 1 on 1 meetings with my boss. “I have been consistently doing these tasks in the absence of the other admins. I’m happy to do it, but wanted to be sure it was ok with you that I’m directing some of my time and energy away from my tasks to ensure these things get done”. This shows respect for your job duties, your boss’ needs, and also lets him/her know that you are being regularly depended upon to do other admin’s work.

    If the answer is no, she doesn’t want to continue doing them, than I would have a meeting with the other admins and let them know that up to this point I’ve been happy to cover these duties, but that I can no longer do them. If they don’t know how to get the meetings together, teach them. Casually mention to their supervisors that you’ve been happy to help but you’ve now fully trained their admins who will be taking over these responsibilities.

  5. Juliana Gardiner

    Right, all you need to do is to keep up the good work. You might think no one notices but you will be surprised that someone is watching. Your faithfulness will be a perk for promotion. You don’t need to run anyone down. in addition, whatever you are doing now will add up to your marketability when there’s another opportunity in your company or you have to move out. You are doing the right thing, don’t be discouraged, just keep it up.

  6. I would suggest you keep doing what you’re doing based on the fact that you do enjoy it. Try to let go of the fact that other’s aren’t doing whatever they are supposed to. You can let your manager know what you are doing without calling anyone else out; as someone else said, just stick to the facts of the situation without the emotion attached to it. I’ve found in my many years of experience that the more you do & the more you know, the more you are looked upon as a reliable & trustworthy person in the workplace. Besides laying it out to your manager in a meeting, you can say little things in a casual manner like ‘I made sure the copies are on the table in the conference room for your next meeting’ or ‘I got the webinar already set up so all you have to do is…xyz..’. Good luck!

  7. I too have had similar experiences and I think the majority of the time leadership is oblivious to the fact that you have taken on “others” responsibilities. They are busy and not paying attention to what you do to help things run smoothly, as long as things are handled they are happy. However, I do think you should keep a log of your daily activities so when it is your review time, you can have data to backup your accomplishments. We are supposed to all “help out” however, that does not mean get taken advantage of. I believe you can present your facts without tattling or complaining and just say it like it is.

  8. If you have an office manager, I would meet with them to discuss your duties and the other admins duties. If there isn’t an office manager, then you should be that person. I believe that you have demonstrated that you have the talent and drive. Bring that up to your manager about creating the office manager position. Good luck.

  9. I would have in mind your goal in bringing this to your supervisor’s attention. Do you want a raise, promotion, title change? I would also keep the focus on what you are doing – present the facts of how you are reliable, organized, and have been taking on extra work to ensure these things are done. If your supervisor then asks why you would have to take on the work, you can answer, but stick to the facts – that you are often the only one there when this work needs to be addressed, and so on.

  10. Chris,
    It sounds like you are going above and beyond covering for other assistants, and being a reliable source for others in the office. Many Admins choose this profession because helping others is a key motivator. Sharing your observations with your leader is a start. Do you and the other Admins have regular meetings to discuss business needs and priorities? If not, this would be a good way to understand each other’s roles and responsibilities. Do the other assistants understand how to perform their roles fully, for example ensuring their leaders and teams are prepared for guests and meetings, including getting the meeting room and any techology ready? This may be an opportunity for you to share your knowledge and any tips and tricks. Practicing teamwork, assertiveness, and gaining support from your leader and the other leaders to help the other Admins support their teams fully may make everyone more productive, and then you can step in to cover when another Admin is out of the office. I wish you well with getting the recognition you have earned, and making positive changes to balance your workload.

  11. You are in a difficult position because once you start doing certain tasks then it becomes expected rather than a one-off. I would suggest that you first make the attempt to bring these issues to the other Admins and let them know that you are being tasked with things that are over and above what you are expected to do already and you also need to learn how to say ‘No’ – Saying no can be a very difficult thing to do but is also sometimes a necessity. Your manager also needs to be aware of what you are doing as well as it may very well start to affect your own duties.

    1. I recently was on a webinar with Chrissy Scivicque, Eat Your Career.com and this was one of the topics that was brought to the attention of the audience.

      How to Prepare for Important Career Conversations fits right in to this topic.

      Document your achievements-capture details of what you have worked on. Identify or capture results.

      This will come in handy when it is time for your review and are asking for a raise.

      1. Sheri I was on that same Webinar and I found that documenting is the best idea ever. I have five different spiral notebooks based on projects I am working on that do not have an end date. I also have one notebook and I write down everything I do that day so if there ever is a question as to why or when or what I have it documented.

  12. Thank you Chris B. for sharing. I’m faced with a similar situation and would like to hear from others on possible solutions.

  13. Well I’ve found in my many years of doing this type of work in several different industries that most managers good or bad have no idea what we do in a day. So my first thought is your leader doesn’t even have a clue that you are covering for other groups in the mornings. I would ask what my leaders expectations were as far as assisting the other Managers and admins. If they expects you to help out wherever needed then your kind of stuck outside of bringing to their attention how often you are covering. However, if they don’t have an expectation that you help they need to understand what your being asked to do regularly. Does the group of admins have any meetings where you could pose the question to them to find out why they are expecting you to cover for them. I know it seems obvious but maybe they have no clue it’s putting the burden on you that it is. Maybe they think their people are able to handle it with out help. I know that personally when I am not readily available I give my managers as many of the tools/help sheets as I can to cover so they are less likely to have to bug the others for minor things. Another help is that in our conference rooms we have don’t panic signs that help everyone work through technical issues. We have pictures to show what plugs into what based on if your using the tower or a laptop. That eliminates lots of questions and last minute issues. Every once in a while there is something weird that we help with but it’s definitely not the norm anymore.

    1. HI Mindy,

      I am very interested in seeing what your don’t panic signs look like. We just moved into a new office building and brand new conference rooms with lots of technology….I think it would be great to put together our own don’t panic signs.

  14. Your extra effort is most likely not going unnoticed. Do you have a performance review/evaluation where you could bring this up? That seems to me to be the easiest way to talk about what I’m doing right without bringing anyone else into it. You could describe these responsibilities in detail as you have done here and emphasize that you are doing this on a consistent basis.

  15. Wow! I would say you show a great amount of leadership and are an example to others already! It appears your followers are waiting for direction. You can ask bosses about making your role formal and delegating tasks to those you are already leading. If your company is ignoring this it is time to move on to a place that will allow you to be yourself and reward it– one who takes initiative. You are valued as the one all depend on, is this what you want? They focus on you not the others. People around you will not change and step up. Actually it hurts but you are allowing this to continue. I agree. I have stepped back and no one is catching those dropping balls but me. You are a gem. Learn how to value yourself and your rare qualities. People have different reasons to work, you see it as a career, they probably don’t.

  16. I would include all of the above in my performance review and I would ask for an “exceed expectations” rating. I would ask for a promotion and a salary increase. If your manager or your employer does not value your contribution, I would find a new job and apply for a higher level position than what you have now.

  17. You need to be able to demonstrate what you do. Document what you do, have a written record of the extra things you are expected to do.. Request the team members you help send you a thanks email outlining what you did for them.

    Take those records in when you have a discussion with your manager, show that you are a Value Added person and have the proof to show it. That way, you are not disparaging your co-workers, you are just showing your value to management.

    Chances are good your manager already knows your value, but it’s good to have records yourself.

  18. I understand not wanting to call them out, but that’s exactly what you need to do. Let your boss know what you are doing, that the others need to step-up and handle on a regular basis. Tell him/her that you’re more than happy to help out as-needed, but this shouldn’t be the norm. The department admin needs to step-up and do their job. Offer to do brown-bag lunch and learns, to train the other admins. And speak to your executive about them being held accountable for their duties, as you’re accountable for your own. You could even mention that you’re bandwidth is being used by their responsibilities that you’re doing for them, which ultimately takes away what you could be doing for him/her.

    1. Kayla, I respectfully disagree …. in my experience, any time we call out the performance of others, WE are the ones who are seen as complainers. I most definitely think that Chris needs to approach this with her manager from the “this is what I have done” standpoint. Let the manager come to the obvious conclusion that she is the “go to” person in the office.

  19. When I started reading your post I completely thought to myself, this is me writing this, at my place of employment I feel exactly the same way, and like you I’ve gone above and beyond and have not gotten the recognition and or support from my supervisor. I also do not know how to address the subject. I wish I could help you, but I also don’t know how and I will be looking forward to other Admins’ answers which may shed some light into this most unfortunate situation that affect many of us in the field.

  20. Ask all those people who you aren’t normally supposed to support for a note of recommendation for your files. Explain that you are compiling them in advance of your performance review, but that you aren’t looking for anything too extensive, just an acknowledgement of how you helped them that day/in that moment.

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