“Manage my business”
I recently met with an executive and asked him a simple question, “What makes an exceptional executive assistant?”
He said, “She or he knows how to manage my business.”
By business, he meant HIS business not the company’s–his priorities, his responsibilities, his everything from emails to calendar to meeting goals and expectations.
The next day I was speaking with an executive assistant I used to work with who I consider an exceptional assistant. She was preparing to interview for a role with an C-Level executive who has a reputation for being difficult due to his communication skills and lack of organization. My colleague and I discussed how she might best support someone like this manager and it evolved into this post because whether you are trying to be a more proficient assistant with a current manager or going to work with a new manager, there are two areas of focus that will improve your mutual success.
I am a firm, FIRM, believer that the best executive assistants can be measured by their degree of resourcefulness.
Someone who is resourceful knows how to find the answer and the best solution, and this equates to identifying the next steps necessary to meeting a deliverable. Someone who is resourceful can take a small amount of information and run with it. Being resourceful means the assistant has strong relationships with co-workers, knows who does what, understands the company’s policies and processes, and can anticipate needs and outcomes of his/her manager’s business.
In fact, whenever I’ve been interviewed for a role and have been asked, “How do you gain trust with a new manager?” I always answer, “I make learning the company’s resources, both in process and in people, my priority so that he/she can ask me to take care of something without worrying about the when, how, and what needs to be done to accomplish the request.”
Resourceful steps you can take whether you are supporting a new executive manager or want to improve the relationship with your current manager:
- Dedicate time each day for integration meetings to learn the resources. If you are new, ask your manager if you can dedicate the entirety of your first week to Mission Resourcefulness:
- Schedule your own meetings with key personnel, department managers and their assistants, process owners, and the IT team. Find out how everything works and who does what, and by all means,
- Take notes in these meetings. Show these people you value their time and they can rest assured you you won’t need to call them back in one week to ask the same questions.
- Take any online training courses your company offers.
Next to knowing your resources, identifying the best way to stay organized is key. Each manager works and communicates differently. The tools you used to stay organized and on track with a previous manager may work for you, but it may not work with the new manager. It’s not just about your responsibilities, it’s about his/her responsibilities and the team’s responsibilities and this is where project management tools often become the best manner of staying on target with deliverables, due dates, and shifting priorities with more than one person on the team.
Here are a few tools I recommend. Most are free. I encourage you to carve out some time to check these out and see if one will work best for you and your manager:
And the below is a how-to YouTube video for MS Entourage. It’s impressive.
Do you have tips you want to share on gaining trust with a manager or staying organized? Don’t hesitate to chime in. Also, are there any specific topics you’d like me to address?
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