Teach Your Executive How to Work with You

Today, I thought I’d take a little different spin and share with you an excerpt from a chapter in my newest book for assistants, Joan’s Greatest Administrative Secrets Revealed.

In my early days as a secretary I didn’t know how to teach my executives how to work with me or what I needed. However, at 26, thanks to an awesome executive, I learned how a strategic partnership should work and I taught every executive after that how to work with me. Here are a few quick tips.

  • Ask for challenging assignments. Sometimes executives just don’t think to give you challenging assignments. Or often they are thinking about the time they will have to spend to teach you. I’m here to tell you, I often asked my executives to give me more, teach me, and that I would handle it. This is a huge benefit to you because you grow your skill set. You become a more valuable asset because now they are relying on you for that task or piece of the project. It also keeps you from getting bored at work, which is the worst thing to happen!
  • Maintain your processes even during busy times. You and your executive should have clear processes on every aspect of the typical tasks that need to be performed. For years I have coached executives and assistants how to implement processes on everything from daily huddles to debrief meetings, managing email, travel planning, and holding quarterly strategic meetings. What often happens is when work or business gets really crazy, processes get put aside such as regular huddles. That is when I notice the most problems occur. So first, you must have excellent processes in place. Second, stick with your processes. Or if you get off schedule because of heavy executive travel, get back on schedule as soon as possible.
  • Demonstrate what you can do for them. Don’t always ask for permission. For example, maybe you can think of a better way to spruce up your executive’s PowerPoint presentation. Don’t ask if it’s okay to change it, just change it. Show it to him. Let your executive see what you are capable of doing.
  • Communicate your desire to help and be a business partner. Don’t wait to be asked to the party. Let your executive know you want to create this partnership and the benefits both of you will derive from doing so. Now not every executive or manager will want this partnership. If you support multiple managers, you won’t have the time to build strategic partnerships with each of them. I can safely say, though, that today’s progressive leaders want to have a partnership. They have a more modern approach, which is the perfect opportunity for you to speak up.

This week, look for ways to teach your executive how to better work with you.

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executives and assistants working in partnership

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