During my 20-year career as an administrative professional, I was fortunate to experience working relationships with numerous managers, executives, and Presidents in various industries. However, there were only three executives that impacted me, my career, and proved to me that an assistant and executive can truly have a synergistic relationship. I also learned what an assistant needs from an executive to be successful and to get the job done in stellar fashion.
Since 1990, I’ve been sitting on the other side of the desk as founder and CEO of my own company which provides training and consulting services to assistants and executives. I have had more than eight assistants work for me over the years and know the difference between an assistant who just gets the work done and one who truly is my strategic business partner. Both have impacted my success and productivity negatively or positively. I have been able to soar with the right administrative business partner and so can you.
In today’s fast-paced corporate world, many executives rely on the newest technology to advance their objectives and help the company grow. Between e-mail, virtual assistants, palm pilots, high-speed Internet connections and a host of other technological marvels, many managers mistakenly believe they are more independent than ever – making their own travel plans, faxing their own letters and scheduling their own meetings. In reality, these independent executives have lost sight of the one asset that can truly impact the company’s bottom line: their administrative assistant.
In order to make the most of your administrative assistant and advance your company’s mission, you need to treat your assistant like a business partner and develop their skills on a daily basis. Only then will they have the know-how and confidence to make decisions and take charge of challenges that arise during the day.
No matter how advanced your office becomes, your assistant and administrative team will always prove to be your greatest asset. Not only will they pick up the slack in your absence, they’ll also stand by you during the toughest business challenge. When you encourage your assistants to become true work partners by unleashing their creativity and broadening their scope of responsibility, you will become more productive and your company will grow.
It Starts With Perceptions
It begins with changing your thinking about the role if you are still thinking like the ‘70s, ‘80s, or even early ‘90s. The new generation of assistants is eager to learn, ready and willing to jump in and get the job done, long to have a great working relationship with the person they most support, and want to use their talents. They want to be trusted, challenged, and empowered. Even assistants who have been in the field for 25+ years have plans to work for several more years and have aspirations of topping their past performance.
When you change your perceptions of this role, your work life will change. You will be doing more of the things you like to do and were hired to do. Your time will be spent on things that make a difference and impact the company’s bottom line. And you will definitely reduce the stress in your life. A star assistant is worth her or his weight in gold! It’s up to you whether you want to invest in this relationship.
To Do or Not To Do?
I see far too many executives and managers performing tasks and taking on projects that their assistant is quite capable of doing with a little bit of guidance or training. Even with something as small (or as big) as managing their e-mails. Before we explore how to determine what to delegate, let’s look at . . . why you are not delegating certain items.
- Some reasons that I hear from executives are:
- I’m a perfectionist and my assistant won’t do as good a job as I would.
- I’ve bad past experiences with other assistants.
- My current assistant has let me down.
- I’m too busy so I don’t even think about delegating.
- I’m too busy to turn it over properly.
These are legitimate reasons and I would agree with some of those same experiences as I’ve had them with past assistants in my office. The bottom line is that as a time-compressed executive you need to let go.
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