Managing Your Manager & Staying Organized

“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.

Be Resourceful

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.

Project Management

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:

https://todoist.com

https://www.wunderlist.com/

https://www.onenote.com/

https://trello.com

And the below is a how-to YouTube video for MS Entourage. It’s impressive.
https://youtu.be/CwASqTuMQcI

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?

Happy Working.

Teri

Goal Setting for Assistants Teri Case

 

 

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Filed under Communication, Executive Assistant Competencies, Goal Setting for Assistants, Judgment, Resourcefulness, Uncategorized

One Way To Increase Your Manager’s Productivity

Ready! Set!  8 – 12 – 4 — FLEX!

Have you ever noticed how many meetings are scheduled to prepare for other meetings?

How many times have you heard your manager or a co-worker say, “I have so much to do, but I’m going to be in meetings all day.”

Unnecessary meetings and a lack of time to focus on goals and responsibilities is one of the number one reasons milestones are missed. Short of declining the meetings and looking like you, or your manger, isn’t a team player, how does one address this problem?

With calendar management.

After years of experience supporting an executive, I began blocking his/her and my calendar as follows:

Monday – Thursday
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.: FOCUS
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.: FOCUS
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.: FOCUS

Friday
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.: FOCUS
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.: FLEX

FOCUS times are exclusively reserved for your manager to do his/her job and get stuff done, and therefore, make progress on milestones and goals. This is not time for meetings. It’s time designated for focusing and preparing for everything on his/her plate.

With technology and ‘open door’ calendars where we can and should be able to send invitations for meetings, some people, including other assistants, might be frustrated at these unavailable blocks of time. Your boss might even look at you like you’re crazy when you suggest the blocks. “How will it make me look? Like I’m not working!” he or she will object.

But here is why they are wrong and why it works.

  • It sends a clear message when your manager is available.
  • It sends the message that the departmental goals, and therefore, the corporate goals are the prize, and work needs to get done in order to reach the established milestones.
  • It sends the message to your manager’s direct reports that they, too, should mirror and establish times to focus.
  • It sends the cultural message that your manager wants his team to FLEX and get as much work done as possible every Friday afternoon so they can enjoy their weekends and come back refreshed the following Monday and accomplish even more.
  • It says, “You’re smart, you use your time wisely, and you are focused on the corporate goals.”
  • It says, “This is how goals happen.”

So talk to your manager, and make this suggestion. Give it a trial period. This simple change in calendar will increase productivity and team satisfaction.

Let me know how it goes, or if you need any help at admin@evolvingea.com.

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Filed under Accountability, Calendar Management, Communication, Executive Assistant Competencies, Leadership, Problem Solving, SMART Goals, Uncategorized

SMART Goals (Performance Objectives) For Assistants

Why Assistants Should Want Them

Performance objectives are important for three reasons. One, they establish clear performance expectations between the assistant and supervising manager. Secondly, they are used to determine year-end bonuses and merit increases. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, performance objectives allow each assistant to identify areas for training, or exposure opportunities in areas he/she is interested in. Bottom line, establishing performance objectives helps YOU establish YOUR career path. Maybe the career path is to be the best executive assistant in the world, or maybe you want to move into a different department, or maybe you want to move into meeting planning–whatever your ideal career path is, performance goals can be a roadmap that you build upon year after year to help you reach your longterm career goals. And they can document you making a difference and adding value.

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Why “The Evolving EA”

Evolving EA Thumbnail

As an assistant for the past twenty years I have experienced a wide range of expectations with regards to the role and performance in the role.  While some of this was simply management “style,”  it is also clear that the role has been evolving.  The changes are sometimes reflected in the different titles; Secretary, Assistant, Administrative Assistant, Administrative Assistant I/II/III, Senior Administrative Assistant, Executive Assistant, Senior Executive Assistant, Executive Assistant to the CEO, Executive Coordinator, Business Administrator, and so on and so on. However, I have found that a comprehensive assessment of the role and its evolving place in the workplace has been lacking.

At any given time, an Executive Assistant can be someone who has been an assistant for forty plus years, or a recent college graduate with less than a year of experience. The following reasons might skew both the manager’s and functional team’s expectations of an assistant’s capabilities and therefore, create inconsistencies in responsibilities and even stereotypes:

  • managers who do not know how to leverage an assistant
  • co-workers lack of understanding of your supervisor’s expectations
  • the disparity of performance of assistants within an organization
  • varying expectations depending on geographical location
  • different skill set needs, or requirements across different industries
  • the performance of his/her previous assistant
  • unspecified competencies, skills, or responsibilities

Whether I’m screening a phone call, meeting a guest, or coordinating a meeting, in all interactions I am dealing with the person’s (manager, guest, consultant, co-worker, peer) single perception of what and who an assistant can be, and how an assistant can contribute to and impact department and corporate goals – one person  might think I am only capable of, and responsible for, answering phones, setting up meetings and greeting guests. Another person might understand that I am a user of all processes, touch all departments, understand the company from the ground up, and in fact, might know more about the inner workings of the company than most employees. And when roles are being eliminated and unanticipated gaps in process created, the responsibilities and slack are being picked up by assistants. Assistants are wearing more and more hats. The role is constantly evolving.

 

Our Mission

Evolving EA Mission

 

The Evolving EA™ website is about the assistant and for the assistant. Our goal is to provide a resource for assistants to become more proficient in the role and/or move above and beyond the role if so desired by focusing our time and energy on our core Executive Assistant Competencies: initiative, judgment, leadership, change management, communication, execution, problem solving, integrity, conflict management, accountability, and resourcefulness.

We want to educate and train other people about the role and encourage companies to leverage and recognize the competencies and skill sets of assistants, and their contribution to corporate goals rather than perpetuating stereotypes. Click here to print our mission statement.

One of the best ways to create clarity about your role with your manager and the company is to create clear annual performance objectives and the companies most of you work for are probably coordinating their goals for 2016 right now. Our next feature stories will be,

  • Creating Relevant, Meaningful & Measurable Performance Goals
  • Collecting Data for your 2015 Performance Review

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Good luck and let me know what you think.

Teri & Team

 

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Filed under Accountability, Change Management, Communication, Conflict Management, Execution, Executive Assistant Competencies, Goal Setting for Assistants, Initiative, Integrity, Judgment, Leadership, Problem Solving, Recruiting, Resourcefulness, SMART Goals, Uncategorized