Becoming the: “ Exceptional Executive Assistant ™ ” Executive Assistant Training Primer
The Executive Assistant role is rapidly changing in today’s Corporate Culture. In the past, the EA was primarily responsible for administrative tasks. However, in their new role they are becoming an active behind-the-scenes partner to CEOs and Senior Level Management, contributing both on the administrative side, Day-to-Day Business Operations and long-term business development planning.
“ Typical” EA Job Description
A typical Executive Assistant job description is inclusive of many of the following:
Performing technical, specialized, complex and difficult office administrative work requiring the use of independent judgment;
Interpreting and implementing policies, procedures and computer applications related to the department or organizational unit to which assigned;
Analyzing and resolving office administrative and procedural problems; Performing basic research and preparing reports and recommendations;
Overseeing projects or programs and/or supervising, monitoring and evaluating the work of staff;
Organizing own work, coordinating projects, setting priorities, meeting deadlines and following up on assignments with a minimum of direction;
Using initiative and independent judgment within established policy and procedural guidelines;
Providing complex office administrative support in the areas of procurement, budgeting, report preparation and staff communication; and
Communicating Exceptionally with co-workers, subordinates, superiors, the general public, representatives of public and private organizations and others sufficient to exchange or convey information.
The bad news is… that the “Typical” job description at first is complicated.
The good news is… through organization, trust and communication, the “Typical” job description can be accomplished efficiently and effectively.
Once the “typical” job description needs are being fulfilled, you have the opportunity to excel at your job and make the position interesting, educational and enjoyable.
The following are 10 simple tips to becoming the :
Exceptional Executive Assistant™
The Good and the Bad of being an Executive Assistant
1. Build a Relationship Founded on Trust and Integrity.
2. Make Your Executive Look Amazing and Find Out how to make your Executive’s Job Easier.
3. Prioritize, Delegate, and Fulfill Commitments.
4. Be a Trusted Advisor and a Team Player.
5. Time Management is Crucial.
6. Communication is Key.
7. Write Down Everything, Summarize and Follow-up!
8. Build and Maintain Systems.
9. No Task is Beneath You.
10. Develop the Exceptional EA Personality.
10 Tips To Being an Exceptional Executive Assistant ™
Build a Relationship Founded on Trust and Integrity TIP #1
The Executive Assistant and their Executive are in an extremely intimate relationship. The Executive Assistant has to know everything their Executive knows on a day-to-day basis.
Additionally, it is important for the Executive Assistant to build a relationship with pertinent Team Members, partners, and clients. As you become more integrated into your role, it will be YOU that people interact with most of the time, not your Executive.
In all of these relationships, it’s important to create a foundation of TRUST and INTEGRITY.
We will spend the next 20+ slides emphasizing the importance of these ideas. This should hopefully emphasize how incredibly important they are!
Building a Relationship
Creating Relationships –The Three Core Skills The Ability to Earn Trust The Ability to Give Advice The Ability to Build Relationships TEXT EARN GIVE BUILD
Trust must be both earned and deserved.
You must do something to give people evidence that helps them decide whether to trust you. You must be willing to give in order to receive.
People tend to trust one another if they are convinced the other is in for the long haul and not looking simply to maximize the short-term benefit of individual interactions. Executive Assistants are not transition jobs.
Provide some evidence that your Executive’s interests are as important to you as yours are.
Earning Trust TEXT EARN GIVE BUILD
1. Listen to everything.
2. Empathize (for real).
3. Note what the other is feeling.
4. Build a shared agenda.
5. Take a point-of-view.
6. Take a personal risk.
12 Quick Ways to Gain Trust
7. Ask about a related area.
8. Ask great questions.
9. Give away ideas.
10. Respond with unbelievable speed.
11. Relax your mind.
12. Don’t miss a commitment!
TEXT EARN GIVE BUILD
Your Executive is most likely incredibly busy. Thus, when they tell you something, it is important that you listen attentively. They should never have to tell you something twice.
The Exceptional Executive Assistant utilizes the HEART Listening System.
1. Listen to everything TEXT EARN GIVE BUILD
HEART Listening System
H ear everything that is said.
E xtract relevant information.
A rrange that information efficiently.
R emember the information and it’s organization.
T ake Action on the information gleaned.
Empathy means not only recognizing and understanding another, it is the next step of experiencing their perspective and emotions as if they were your own.
For example, in your role as the Guardian of the Executive. –
A Team Member comes to your desk and asks for a meeting with your Executive that they “need before they can complete a project”
You are fully aware your Executive has a board meeting in 30 minutes they are busy preparing for. The Executive will not be free until tomorrow.
Empathize with the Team Member’s need to have the meeting and show you are truly impacted by their plight. Then take ACTION
Examples -- Perhaps try to help them with a solution, write down a few specific questions that you might be able to pass to the Executive during the lunch break of the Board Meeting.
Or sometimes, it just means putting them on the calendar in the next available slot, perhaps the next morning.
It’s one thing to say “I feel bad that you can’t complete your project” – it’s another to take the active stance of REAL empathy.
2. Empathize (for real)
Building on our previous example, if you noticed the Team Member was incredibly distraught over not being able to get a meeting till the next morning:
Make a note of it.
Before the meeting in the morning, inform the Executive that the Team Member seemed very stressed out and distraught over this project.
Now your Executive knows the mindset of the Team Member and can make an appropriate management decision how best to handle them.
Other examples include if you see someone is feeling sad and you have an appropriate colleague relationship, maybe you extend just a pat on the back to let them know you’re there for them if they need anything. This simple gesture leads to a stronger relationship.
3. Note what the other is feeling.
Make sure your Executive and you are always very clear on establishing an agenda, priorities and who is doing what.
It’s very helpful every morning to meet with your Executive for 15-20 minutes to review the tasks for the day. This includes both what you’re doing for the Executive, what the Executive hopes to accomplish on his own, and what the Executive expects of other members on the team.
Check in throughout the day to make sure your Executive is on schedule.
A 5-minute wrap-up session, before you leave for that day, is a helpful way to release work life from your mind before you go to your personal life.
4. Build a shared agenda
Any Executive worth of their position is not paying an Executive Assistant to be a YES-man (or woman).
Don’t be afraid to have an opinion and share it when questioned. Especially when it comes to interoffice political dynamics, you’ll normally be a lot more aware of the real workings than the Executive. This is because when the Executive is around, the team is more “at attention” whereas they are not likely as intimidated by the Executive Assistant, who, in this case, can hear what is never said to the Executive.
A note -- if someone tells you something confidentially and you promise to hold it confidential, you must live up to your word. However if it is not specified that it is confidential, someone has to assume if they are telling something to you, it will get back to your Executive.
5. Take a point of view.
Candor about your own “Achilles heel” is a great way to take a risk and earn mutual trust.
If you have a non-work related expertise or hobby (even if its potentially embarrassing) find an occasion to share it briefly. Self deprecating humor can signal great emotional maturity and trustworthiness.
Ask a stupid question! The only truly stupid questions are the ones that aren’t asked.
6. Take a personal risk.
7. Ask about a related area.
Sometimes your Executive can become so enamored with one specific area, they fail to step back and differentiate the forest from the trees, so to speak.
The more you know about the business, the more able you will be to ask questions to alert the Executive of ideas or concepts they may not have thought about.
Throughout this Training Primer, you’ll notice encouragement for asking questions. A little caveat on that – Don’t ask questions for the sake of asking questions. If you sincerely think the question has relevance, then by all means ask it.
You’ll notice by asking great questions, the relationship with your Executive will strengthen and they will come to you more frequently with ideas for discussion. This is when the Executive Assistant position becomes incredibly exciting and educational!
8. Ask great questions.
This is covered in more detail during Tip #2, but in essence:
If you have an idea, share it with your Executive and let them enjoy the credit. If your Executive chooses to recognize you for the idea, that’s wonderful. But you have to remember one of your primary unwritten job responsibilities is to make your Executive look Amazing.
Every great idea you give them will strengthen your bond even further.
9. Give away ideas
The more organized and well-prepared you are, the more efficient your time with the Executive will be spent.
If every time your Executive asks a question, you are not only prepared with an answer, but also supporting documentation, they will extend their trust to you even further by involving you on more and more projects.
10. Respond with unbelievable speed
Concentrate on a piece of wisdom or key question like:
It’s about my Executive looking Amazing.
Who am I thinking about?
Problems are rarely what someone says.
11. Relax your mind. TEXT EARN GIVE BUILD
This is probably the easiest way to build a strong relationship founded in trust – but inversely it is also one of the quickest ways to lose trust. We’ll cover all about Commitments in Tip #3!
12. Don’t miss a commitment!
There will be times when your Executive comes to YOU for advice on any number of areas. Step 2 in Creating a Relationship is to be prepared to Give Advice tactfully and Exceptionally.
Giving Advice TEXT EARN GIVE BUILD
Advice is not an exclusively logical process, but rather an emotional duet played between the EA and their Executive.
Consider the sensitivities, emotions and politics of your relationship with the Executive.
Take away their worries and absorb all their hassles.
Provide reassurance, calm their fears and inspire confidence.
Giving Advice TEXT EARN GIVE BUILD
All of the previous advice for Earning Trust and Giving Advice comes down to these simple principles:
Show your Executive you are interested in a relationship by actively pursuing it.
Be Sure Your Advice Is Being Sought
Early in your relationship, it’ll be important not to overstep boundaries when offering advice.
Earn the Right to Offer Advice
By showing your continued study and expertise in an area, you earn the right to offer advice. The nature of your position does not entitle you to give it.
Say What You Mean
The day is too short to beat around the bush with your Executive. Be clear and concise.
The most important key to all of the previous skills in building trust is that it must be sincere and routed in integrity.
Developing integrity is important because the second that trust is lost, it becomes incredibly difficult to function in the Executive and Executive Assistant relationship.
How do we develop integrity?
G rit – “a firmness of mind, unyielding courage” that leads to…
R espect – “a high or special regard” by others that fosters…
I nfluence – “which produces an effect with out force” based on…
T ruth – “which agrees with final reality” for…
Y ou – where it must start, not others, but you!
Five Letters to Complete inteGRITY
“ Trust is a dynamic, fragile and complex process. It requires constant work, patience, commitment and a full understanding of human nature.” Stuart R. Levine Openness/ Realism Observe Patterns Define Expectations Requires Strength Flexibility / of Character Adaptability Understanding of Awareness of Human Nature Barriers Respect for Individual Dignity TRUST
Make Your Executive Look Amazing and Find out how to make your Executive’s Job Easier. SESSION #2
One of the most difficult challenges in being an Exceptional Executive Assistant is becoming comfortable enough with yourself to give all credit to your Executive.
It also means being able to think several steps ahead of what they might need… or even better – coming up with things that will be useful they haven’t even thought of!
Make your Executive look Amazing!
Create profiles for:
Anyone else the Executive comes into contact with.
i.e. If they like football, a nice gift would be tickets to the game on Sunday.
A typical profile includes:
Name of Significant Other
Significant Other’s Birthday
Name(s) of children
Children’s Birthdays and Graduation dates
Relevant News Articles
Keep a gift log of what your Executive has given to who and when.
Also log when you send a gift on behalf of your boss and alert him with details.
Have a stock of Thank You, Birthday and Congratulations cards available at all times. Encourage your boss to write brief personal notes when an occasion arrives.
Read your manager's body language. Does your manager act frantic when it's time to complete a certain task, whether it's a monthly report or preparing for a regular staff meeting he attends? Step forward and ask if you can do the task or how you can help in another way. Then be prepared to do what's asked.
Stuck for initiative ideas?
Even if his response appears to be a trivial request for your level of experience, ultimately fulfilling the request might be a timesaver for your manager that allows him to stop the frenzy and slow his pace on this task. And you may be rewarded with some more challenging tasks in the future.
Remember for your Executive to do a task is a lot more expensive for the company than if you do it.
See Tip #9 – No Task is Beneath You!
Stuck for initiative ideas?
Develop Elevator Speeches
Build elevator speeches (30 seconds to 2 minute long) for the following questions for your Executive:
What do you do for a living?
What does your business do?
Tell me about yourself?
What has your business done recently?
Using some of the same material, help your Executive develop a professional biography.
Be Ahead of the Curve
Find out how you can always be up to date on information relevant to your business, industry, competition, and partners.
If you are informed, it will not only help you to make valuable suggestions – it also allows you to debrief your Executive on important things to read.
Be Ahead of the Curve (1/3)
Subscribe to industry or trade publications that focus on your business - or the business of your clients and customers.
Join a professional association, chamber of commerce, or network with other entrepreneurs in similar industries.
Look for information on the Internet. Watch for opportunities to interact with business or industry experts in "chat room" interviews. Put the interviews on your appointment calendar and be sure to show up.
Subscribe to Internet newsgroups that focus on your industry.
Read newspapers - local and national - to track business trends.
Talk to your customers and clients. What issues are troubling them? What is their mission? What factors do they think will affect their business in the future? Ask yourself, "How might this affect the business?"
Invest in training: attend a conference or seminar on a subject that affects your business. Once there, don't be a wallflower: Strike up conversations with other participants. If a session is particularly helpful, go up to the speaker to thank them ... or add a comment of your own. Ask for them for a business card.
Be Ahead of the Curve (2/3)
Be Ahead of the Curve (3/3)
Visit or call your city library - or check out the library at a nearby college. Find out what resources - periodicals, newspapers, reference materials - they offer for someone interested in a business like yours.
Cultivate your curiosity. Don't be afraid to try new things. The most important skill you can develop is not the ability to remember information, but the ability to seek out and find the information you need, when you need it, and then use it for the benefit of your business.
Knowledge Constantly Makes Itself Obsolete, With the Result That Today’s Advanced Knowledge Is Tomorrow’s Ignorance. -Peter E. Drucker
Take your Executive’s PowerPoint presentations and make them look more professional and appealing.
Be creative with presentations AFTER BEFORE
Prioritize, Delegate, and Fulfill Commitments. SESSION #3
D etermine the Importance – Make sure its really a priority or you can be busy but unproductive.
D eadline It – Just like goal setting, you need a timeline to create a sense of urgency
D ecide on a Plan of Implementation – beware of “paralysis from analysis.”
D elegate if Possible – When feasible, assign other with different skills to do what you don’t do well.
D o It! – Dreaming, learning, planning, and talking isn’t enough. Eventually action must be taken if success is to be realized.
Five “D’s” of Discipline
The reason why it is important you know everything your Executive knows is because it will soon be your responsibility to assist with prioritizing.
For example, if your Executive has two phone calls, you need to know which phone call they need to take first.
In the beginning, ask to sit in as many meetings as possible and be privy to as much information as permutable. This will allow you build a base of information to make rational judgments about prioritization.
If you want to be an Exceptional Executive Assistant, you'll have to give up the notion that you can do everything yourself. As obvious as that may seem, learning to properly delegate responsibility may be the toughest part of your job.
The key duties of an Executive Assistant are to plan, organize, coordinate, set goals, establish priorities and think creatively. By delegating appropriate tasks to Team Members, an Executive saves their time for more important tasks.
Are You Prepared to Assist Your Executive in Delegation?
Specifically what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by.
Is the deadline strict? Or is there flexibility?
What is the importance of this project?
Does the final product need to be exceptional? Or is satisfactory ok?
Resources Available for the Project’s Completion.
To Consider Before Delegating
Choosing Who to Delegate To
Would this task be more Exceptionally delegated to a team or an individual?
Who on the team is best equipped to handle this task?
This question is why it is important early on to have each of the team members put together a profile of what they work on and what specializations they have.
What is their current workload?
This is why it is important to keep a delegation log.
How you can make your Executive more successful at delegating! 8 Keys to Exceptional Delegation
Make it clear to Team Members that your Executive is more concerned about the final outcome of all projects. However, the day-to-day details that accompany them should be conveyed to the Executive Assistant in case the Executive needs to know.
1. Stress results, not details.
Don't be sucked in by giving solutions to Team Members' problems. When Team Members come to you with problems, they're probably looking for you to solve them. Don't. Teach them how to solve problems themselves . This, too, can be frustrating because it takes time. But in the long run, you'll save your Executive time and money.
2. Teach them how to solve problems themselves.
If a Team Member comes to you with a problem, ask him or her for possible solutions. If a Team Member comes to you with a question, ask for possible answers.
3. Turn the questions around. Q Q
4. Establish measurable and concrete objectives.
With all Team Members, make your Executive’s objectives clear and specific. Once this is done, Team Members will feel more comfortable acting on their own. Think of this plan as a road map - and your Team Members will too.
5. Develop reporting systems.
Get your feedback from reporting systems: monthly reports, statistical data, or samplings, Or consider weekly meetings with Team Members. Every Monday morning is usually the most Exceptional.
If your Executive doesn’t give clear deadlines, Team Members won't feel accountable for the completion of their tasks. You can help!
When someone commits to a task, an Exceptional Executive Assistant naturally asks “By what day?” They tell you the day. The EEA then asks “By what time?”
6. Give strict and realistic deadlines.
When your Executive delegates an assignment, jot it down. You'll be able to monitor the progress and keep your Executive organized and informed.
Keep a database in Excel or Access of all delegated tasks.
One of the most Exceptional ways of following up is inputting the delegated task into the Outlook Calendar of the person who is assigned the task, as well as your own.
7. Keep a delegation log.
Being a good delegater is like being a good coach of a baseball team. You have to know which positions and projects each Team Member can handle, and which they can't.
Also, your delegation logs can be used to advise your Executive when they must decide who is best for a particular task.
8. Recognize the talents and personalities of Team Members
Team Leader: Ensures work is getting done by coordinating assignments, providing resources and managing outside contacts.
Team Facilitator: Sometime team leader in small teams. Manages discussion and decision making process by getting everyone involved, summarizing ideas and identifying plans of record.
Team Coach: Advisor on team process, works with but does not direct leader or team members.
Five Team Roles B2x Core Values
The dictionary gives two meanings of the word commitment:
An agreement or pledge to do something in the future ;
The state or instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled .
1) = Action 2) = Emotional State
Doing what you COMMITTED to do.
Doing it by when you committed to doing it.
It is YOUR responsibility to take ownership of your assignment. Perform the assignment how you’d like someone to perform it for you!
Take Pride in Complete!
You must strive to limit your commitments to the extent necessary to meet ALL of them!
What must follow is a series of conversations that will prioritize and limit commitments…
What stands in the way of achieving the solution?
What are the involved parties willing to do about it?
Who must be brought into the loop?
What roles each person must play?
What information you need?
When and how to check in on progress?
What key deadlines loom ahead?
What are the Risks or Pitfalls?
Before Committing – First Converse…
Clearly and politely articulate what you will and will not do.
Define the boundaries of the analyses you will perform.
Check with the Executive about areas they do not want you to be involved.
Identify precise working arrangements.
Agree on methods and frequency of communicating.
Decide who should get which reports, how often those reports will be delivered and how they will be used.
Decide how success will be measured, both during and at the end of the process.
If you know you’re going to be late…
Be a Trusted Advisor and a Team Player. SESSION #4
A common trait of trusted advisor relationships is that the advisor places a higher value on maintaining and preserving the relationship itself than on the outcome of the current transaction.
The Exceptional Executive Assistant makes a substantial investment in the Executive, without guarantee of return, before the relationship generates any benefit.
What Makes a Trusted Advisor?
Be a Team Player
“ The ability to work together toward a common vision.”
“ The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward Organizational objectives.”
“ The fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
The following are a few healthy Team Player Principles to apply daily…
“ The word communication comes from the latin ‘communico’ meaning: to share.”
It is your responsibility to make sure everyone on the team is operating on the same page. The Executive doesn’t always time to check on each individual member. You should be share any relevant information to whoever it may benefit now or in the future. With email, this is especially easy.
Share Team Information Openly
There will be some days (perhaps when your Executive is out-of-town) that you will have some free time. Take this opportunity to contribute to the team by pitching in however possible. It’s a chance for you to build a stronger bond with the rest of the office as well as learn new skills.
Be Part of the Solution “ If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” -Thomas Edison
Healthy partnerships achieve a level of understanding beyond the norm, an almost uncanny ability to ‘read’ one another’s mind. This comes from intense empathetic effort over a sustained period.
Seek First to Understand “ Appreciation is a wonderful thing; it make what is excellent in others belong to us as well” -Voltaire
Sometimes you will find that someone other than your Executive would best be able to explain a particular subject to you. Seek those people out and ask them.
Encourage others that it is OK to ask you questions. When you are able to provide answers, it incorporates you into the team structure.
Ask and Encourage Questions “ The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Albert Einstein
There is no substitute for personal ownership, responsibility and self control. Each team member does not just do what is asked, but what is needed.
This can also read occasionally: “Be Accountable for Your Executive’s Actions” – If you have the opportunity to take responsibility for a mistake you made that led to your Executive’s folly, step up and admit it. Your Executive will appreciate you taking some of the fire off their own back.
Be Accountable for Your Actions “ Your example is not the main thing influencing others – it is the only thing. -A. Schweitzer
Mistakes WILL happen. Especially early on, as your Executive and you, as well as the rest of the team and you, feel your way out.
Mistakes are OK the first time. The key is to learn from them, because it is NOT OK to repeat them.
Accept Mistakes and Learn From Them “ Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Information has never been more abundant. Make growth a top priority. The only barrier to lifelong learning is you. Get past your own ego and self-imposed restrictions. Start today.
As talked about in Tip #2, being ahead of the curve can benefit your Executive. It can also make you a valuable resource for the whole team.
Learn Continuously “ I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” -Henry David Thoreau
A nd if someone wants to gossip with you, politely say you're not interested. This corporate adage rings true: When someone gossips, two careers are hurt
1) the person being talked about
2) the person doing the talking.
T he only time you should ever use the phrase "I told you so" is if someone says to you: "You were right. I really could succeed at that project."
"When you're right, don't gloat”
As geese flap their wings, they create an uplift for the bird following. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if any bird were to fly alone.
If we share a common direction and a sense of teamwork, we can get where we’re going more quickly and easily because we are traveling on the lift of one another.
Lessons from the Geese Photo courtesy of John Carr
Differences in need, perception, and communication fall into recognizable patterns.
Their patterns are called Behavioral Styles. Adapting your Behavioral Style to meet the needs of your Executive’s style is a vital part of helping him or her to learn to like you.
DO NOT project a strong Cross-Diagonal style.
What style are you?
Behavior Styles Model Results Oriented ANALYTIC Speaks slowly Asks questions about facts Deliberates Uses few gestures DRIVER Fast paced speech Comes on Strong Tries to control the situation Watches the time AMIABLE Easygoing Unemotional voice Deliberate and methodical Patient EXPRESSIVE Friendly and talkative Uses many hand gestures and stories Shows much emotion Doesn’t watch the time People Oriented
Seek a challenge
Want to be in control
Are goal oriented
Make quick decisions
Want to know your services can help solve problems
Decisions are more rational than emotional
Place strong emphasis on their own perception of benefits
Strong ego; a key emotional dimension involved in every decision
Direct, dominating, take charge
Competitive and naturally aggressive
Quick, impulsive, always pressed for time, impatient
Under pressure – they can be belligerent
Their greatest fear – someone will take advantage of them
Engaging, creative, and entertaining
Outgoing, people oriented, very friendly
Enthusiastic, popular, easy to talk to
Charming and eloquent
Stylish and trendy
Positive and optimistic
Thrive on influencing others, love socializing
They’re unpredictable and take their time reaching decisions
Their decision-making is strongly emotional
Also have a rational side based primarily on judgments concerning YOU
Under pressure -- can become very emotional and overbearing
Their greatest fear – they’ll become overbearing and cause conflict
Like everything planned in advance
Appreciate the personal touch
Accommodating, willing, and conforming
Want things to be non-threatening and friendly
Can make decisions fairly quickly;
More balanced blend of emotion and reason
Will want to know how your services meet their needs
Easygoing, steady, process oriented, slower paced
Accepts others slowly, prefers routine workflow
Under pressure – they tend to slow down and back off
Their greatest fear – unplanned change
Want everything documented
Thrive on details
Prefer data, facts, and order
Do not appreciate the “personal touch”
Think things through before acting
Want facts/information presented in a logical manner
Perfectionists who want things organized and predictable
Decisions are more rational, but emotionally so.
In other words -- strong emotion behind their rationalizations
Want to know how your services solve problems--and want proof
Objective, conservative, and unemotional (until challenged)
Under pressure – they tend to become critical and fearful
Their greatest fear -- they will make mistakes and be criticized
It is inappropriate and does nothing to improve either the moral of the team and the individual to REPRIMAND or send critical and non-constructive emails about one individual or a team to anyone besides the party being addressed.
It is beyond appropriate and does everything to improve the moral of the team and individual to RECONGIZE an individual or a or a team to everyone.
Reprimand in Private, Recognize in Public
Time Management SESSION #5
Time Management is one of the most valuable assets an Executive Assistant can provide for their Executive.
Time Management refers not only to help managing their work time, but also helping them balance a healthy lifestyle that includes work, family, personal and social schedules.
Don’t let your Executive become disorganized and burn themselves out!
Life Time Management
Arrive early. If you are there before the rest of the team, you can prepare for the day ahead in peace. This is especially helpful to have time to meet with your Executive before anyone else arrives to interrupt.
Arrive with a goal in mind. Start thinking about the day ahead on your way into work. Review your notes from the day before.
Have an Agenda In addition to reviewing the Executive’s Calendar, be prepared to update them on anything you are currently working on and what the status of those projects are. Keep all summaries brief, unless proposed to specifics.
Make sure you have writing materials It’s going to be important to take notes and make adjustments to both your own and your Executive’s Calendar. Be Prepared always!
Tips for Exceptional Morning Scheduling Meetings
First thing EVERY morning, you should have a private meeting with your Executive to review the day’s schedule and tasks. This meeting should last no more than 15 minutes.
At this meeting you should have a working copy of their calendar for that day printed out in hourly format from Outlook.
Important things to point out include
Deadlines & Priorities
Routine Daily Activities Time
For instance, a busy Executive should set aside an hour a day in the afternoon strictly for checking email and answering telephone messages.
In addition to scheduling concerns, the following issues should be addressed:
What does your Executive need to get done that day.
What did your Executive accomplish the day before.
What does your Executive need you to do
What are you doing for someone else
What did you do yesterday
What is someone else doing for your Executive that they need done by that day
Once you’ve established what’s already on the Calendar, your Executive explains what else they need to do that day.
For every activity or task, ask the following questions to help prioritize:
What is the purpose of the task?
How is success measured?
How do you define high quality on this task?
What are the priorities and deadlines?
What resources are available?
How does this task affect other people?
Figuring Out Priorities
These questions will help your Executive set priorities taking into consideration importance, deadlines, and whether something can be delegated or not.
Only after everything has been either prioritized and/or delegated, can you actually begin putting it down in the Calendar.
This exercise is not only helpful for your Executive, but also gives you a full perspective in order to assist in prioritizing things as they come in during the day.
After the meeting, update your Executive’s (and your own) Calendar on Outlook.
Adding to Schedules “ Concentrate on Results – Not on Being Busy”
Help your Executive become more efficient in using their time by keeping Activity logs for them.
These are confidential documents that give your Executive perspective into how they spend their time and how long particular tasks take.
Start Date Start Time Task Description Priority Level End Date End Time 3/4/06 10:30AM Write Speech Medium 3/4/06 11:45am 3/4/06 12:00 pm Get Update from Development Team High 3/4/06 4:35 pm 3/4/06 12:30 pm Eat Lunch (during meeting) Medium 3/4/06 1:00 pm
After a week or two, the Executive and you can analyze how they are spending their time.
It will also give perspective into what times during the day the Executive is most productive. Thus, in the future you schedule important tasks during that time.
Start Date Start Time Task Description Priority Level End Date End Time 3/4/06 10:30AM Write Speech Medium 3/4/06 11:45am 3/4/06 12:00 pm Get Update from Development Team High 3/4/06 4:35 pm 3/4/06 12:30 pm Eat Lunch (during meeting) Medium 3/4/06 1:00 pm
Another Exceptional way to manage time and delegated responsibilities is to use the Outlook Task Manager.
This is especially helpful in delegation. Make sure to utilize all functions (Complete %, Status, Due Date, etc)
Utilizing different colored flags on Microsoft Outlook to determine priorities of emails.
Also utilize the Reminder feature to have a Time and Date set to follow-up on emails.
It is also very important to make sure that meetings are Concise, Clear and Productive.
On the Time Management Side --
Set (and honor) times for beginning, ending, and breaks. Don’t hold people longer than promised.
Be a referee and a time-keeper, let your Executive focus on the meeting.
Hold up warning cards when you see a particular Agenda item taking longer than scheduled. As the meeting winds down, raise signs 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, DONE. If possible, do this so nobody but your Executive can see them.
All meetings will have an agenda.
No Electronic gadgets – Cell phones OFF, laptops only for taking notes, etc.
Members are expected to give advanced warning if they are unable to complete an assignment on time.
Members should offer to pitch in and help other members who are busy.
Meeting Ground Rules
A Work Plan Includes:
A clear objective
A series of steps for reaching the objective
The time required for each step
The proper sequencing of steps
The team member(s) responsible for each step.
The expected completion date.
The costs involved in the project.
Type up each Work Plan individually and email it out to all involved parties, CCing management.
For every new task talked about in the meeting, Prepare a Work Plan
Compare actual tasks completed with the project plan.
If variances occur, determine the cause and analyze the impact.
Decide on a course of action to correct the problems.
Make revisions to the plan based upon the corrections. Email revisions to all parties.
When complete review all aspects of project and brainstorm way to improve next time.
Progress and Completion Reviews
Stay organized. Take time at the end of each day to briefly organize your Executive’s desk and make reminder lists of tasks for the next day or week.
Don’t let things pile up anyway. Put them in their proper place. It will save your Executive time if they don’t have to dig through a pile 2 feet high to find the folder they want.
If they haven’t got a proper place, time to look at Tip #8!
More Time Management Tips
Start your Executive’s Day with the most stressful task. Something you know will cause them the most headache until it is complete. This will reduce their anxiety level for the next task.
Schedule deadline work early. Not only will this reduce stress and lighten their work schedule, but it will also give you more self-confidence about managing your schedule.
Build flexibility into their schedule. It’s impossible to plan for interruptions, but it’s very possible to make sure your Executive isn’t booked end to end so they have no flexibility for a crisis. Know what on their calendar you have the power to reschedule and what needs to be done when booked.
Tackle the Difficult Tasks Early
Know your Executive’s capacity for stress. Learn signals from your Executive that they are working themselves too hard and take a strong stance to make them take a break. Assure them they will be more productive after cooling down.
Get physical. A great way to cool down your Executive is to encourage physical exertion such as walking, bicycling, swimming, or organized sports activities helps to discharge stress. Stretching, yoga, jumping rope, sit-ups, playing with children, or doing yard work.
Have fun. Be sure to have some fun while working or playing; a good sense of humor can keep most problems in perspective. If you’re having fun, most likely your Executive will follow suit.
Divide up your Executive’s time. Talk to your Executive and decide how much time they want to spend on business development, personal needs, volunteerism and family.
Start by encouraging at least 25 percent of their time for themselves and their family. It’s your responsibility to look out for your Executive’s professional needs but also their personal health and well-being. If they go crazy, chances are they’re going to drag you down with them
Communication is Key. SESSION #6
ABC – Always Be Communicating
At all times, your Executive and you should be communicating.
This doesn’t mean talking all the time. But it does mean talking or emailing if there is something to talk about.
Instant Messaging is a helpful strategy for allowing your Executive to communicate with you while multi-tasking.
Forces of Communication Barriers to Communication Comprehension Specifics Incompre - hension Level 3 Action Credibility Hostility Level 5 Awareness Level 2 Impact Unawareness Forgetful -ness Level 1 Conviction Relevance Apathy Level 4
If you’re Executive tells you something once, don’t make them repeat it. Write it down the first time.
Both with your Executive and with others you interact with, practice Excellent Listening Skills.
Here are a few ways you can let people know you’re listening…
Don’t Waste Time
They probe for clarification.
They listen for a story, and for unvoiced emotions.
They empathize. (See Tip #10)
They summarize well.
They get rid of distractions while listening.
They look (not stare) at the speaker.
Take notes (See Tip #7)
They encourage by nodding their head or giving a slight smile.
They ask how they might be of help.
What Good Listeners Do
Respond too soon.
Editorialize in midstream.
Jump to conclusions.
Judge the speaker.
Try to solve the problem too quickly.
Take calls or interruptions in the course of a meeting.
They aren’t aware of and control their body movement (they don’t move around, shake their legs, fidget with objects)
What Good Listeners Don’t Do
Avoid “But” Words
Don’t use “Nothing I can Do’’
Don’t use “You Should”
“ But” is The World’s Greatest Eraser
Use “And” Words
Use “Let Me see what I can do”
Use “May I suggest” Good News
Replace “But” with “and” . It joins thoughts and does not negate them.
I f you receive or send an email, there are 3 options:
TO: This indicates the email is given direct attention and requires a reply.
CC: This is an informational copy, a reply is not required.
BCC: This is to be used in moderation for educational purposes. Be sensitive if you receive a BCCed email.
“ Email Protocol – Communication Procedure”
Tips for Using Email
Keep emails short and to the point.
Always use a clear Subject (Clear to your reader, not just you.).
Use Spell Check.
DON’T USE ALL CAPS. THIS MEANS YOU’RE YELLING!!!!!
dont not use caps don’t forget punctuation
Pls don’t use im shorthand 2 cuz omg its so annoying lol
Be careful of sarcasm in email.
Keep personal and joke emails out of work.
Keep criticism out of emails. Deal with issues in person whenever possible. Especially don’t criticize someone via email and include other people.
Don’t write emails when you’re ANGRY!
Exception: Write them – then DELETE them before sending!
Reread emails at least twice before sending. Think “tone”.
Write Down Everything – Then Summarize and Follow-up! SESSION #7
Every day, take notes for every meeting you can attend and have your executive share notes with you.
If someone tells you something, write it down.
If you tell someone something, write it down.
If you ask a question, write down the answer.
If you think of something, write it down.
Even the smartest of us with great memories can benefit from writing EVERYTHING down. It’ll be important in Summarizing…
Write Down Everything
Break down the notes into the following sections at the end of every day:
What the Executive did that day
What the Executive committed to and by when.
Prioritize the above commitments.
What the Executive delegated to others and when the commitment dates/times are.
What you did that day
What you committed to and by when.
What you delegated to others and when the commitment dates/times are.
Any ideas you or your Executive Had
Take your summarizations and anything with a date or deadline involved, put in either your Outlook Task Manager or Outlook Calendar, setting a deadline with a reminder.
All of the note-taking is wasted if you don’t take advantage of it! Follow-up!
Write down big ones
Write down small ones
Put them in front of your face
Say them aloud each time you look at them
Keep looking and talking until you act
Seeing the note every day makes you think about acting on it everyday
Revisit your success every day.
Tested and Proven Method of Achieving Goals
Build and Maintain Systems. SESSION #6
Prepare your Executive for everything
Meetings – Include profiles of who they are meeting with, previous agendas, company background, action items, etc.
Interviews – resume, notes from previous interviews, job descriptions, etc
Travel – All relevant travel documents, itineraries, reservations, as well as researched recommendations for restaurants, attractions, etc if the Executive is going somewhere new.
Your Executive should add documents to these folders and they should be filed immediately. Don’t let things pile up on top of the desk.
Always Make Folders
On your desk there should be mailbox bins labeled with the following:
ACTION for Executive
Inbox for Executive
Outbox for Interoffice Mail
Outbox for Snail Mail
ACTION for EA
To Be Filed
To Be Read
Get your Executive in the habit of not bringing loose files into their office.
First ask if it’s something that needs to be filed or can you save space and trash it.
If to be Filed, make sure to do it immediately !
Break down folders as detailed and specific as possible.
Stay consistent with order of folders and documents:
Outer layer by Alphabetical order
Inside each folder by Date; if same date, order them Alphabetically.
While the Fax Machine is slowly becoming a thing of the past, while it still exists, utilize the same documentation you’d get sending and receiving email. Always use a cover sheet.
Include a copy of the cover sheet with the Confirmation Page and file in a small folder next to Fax Machine.
This is especially important when faxing contracts if someone claims you didn’t send it, you can show documentation.
Utilize the function of New Folders within your email fax to organize everything immediately after reading it.
Your inbox should always only include new messages you have not read.
Include a folder for ACTION items.
Use Flag System
No Task is Beneath You. SESSION #9
“ No Task is Beneath You”
D on't think you are above anything. Be the good example and pitch in‑ especially if the job is one that nobody wants to.
Example: Getting Beverages
At one small company I worked at once, whenever clients would come for meetings in our nice board room, I’d come in and ask what they’d like to drink.
They’d ask “What do you have” and I’d reply, “Almost anything you could want”
They’d laugh and challenge me by naming something most companies don’t keep in stock, for instance a Snapple or iced tea of some kind. I’d say, “No problem, I’ll be right back with your beverage”
I’d take the elevator down, run across the street to the local deli which had a wide selection of beverages and get whatever drink they’d order, returning 5-10 minutes later watching their jaws drop as I served their beverage.
For evening Board Meetings, I’d even memorize a wine list from the restaurant down the block and could serve a nice selection of wine.
Do the small stuff to impress –
Example: Phone Differentiation
When someone calls for my Executive, I answer the phone
“ Thank you for calling Mr. Jones’ office, this is Brad, may I ask whose calling?” (I always smile while picking up a phone!)
After learning their name and who they are with, I reply “One moment, NAME, let me see if they are available.”
I then decide whether to interrupt my Executive. If I do and my Executive is busy, I ask when they’ll be available to take the call. Let’s say they estimate 30 minutes.
Back with the caller – “Hello, Mr. Jones is not available right now but I anticipate he will be free in about 30 minutes. If for some reason he is not, I will personally call you in 30 minutes and make sure to get you on his calendar in the next available slot.
Then in 30 minutes, whether my Executive is available or not, I call back. If the Executive is available, I transfer in. But have differentiated myself to show the caller I personally saw to them getting a return call. That’s the small stuff.
Do the small stuff to impress –
I f you don't know the answer, don't try to bluff. If you're at fault, take the blame. Accept that you can’t know everything. Not knowing means you have something you can learn!
"Don't be afraid of the phrase, ‘I don't know’”
Have an Exceptional Executive Assistant Personality! SESSION #10
Have a Positive Attitude
Don’t underestimate your value in setting the tone for the entire office. It’s contagious!
Stay calm and cheerful.
Smile and say hello
Answer the phone with high energy and a positive attitude. It’ll make life that much easier for whoever you transfer the call to.
Professional greeting that’s also welcoming.
Smile while on the phone, it shows up in your voice!
Don’t be afraid to say no.
Don’t lie about what your Executive is doing.
Take great messages and follow-up. See Tip #9 Example.
Critical to keeping customers happy is understanding them and the way they think.
For example, customers do business on the basis of emotional desire: they want what they want -- when they want it. Customers also tend to gravitate toward a company or group of people they like.
Also, most customers have a strong tendency to stick with businesses with which they are familiar, and are slow to change buying habits unless given a very good reason.
Dealing with Customers
Work Together with Team
Establish Company Guidelines for Telephone Etiquette
Give Team Members Advice
Ask Questions for Your Own Benefit
4 Ideas for Improving Your Phone Manners with Customers
Talk about customers amongst team members
Communicate status and reactions in meetings, emails, etc.
Relay positive feedback
Encourage brainstorming ideas how to improve customer relations to come to you and be forwarded to your Executive.
Work Together with the Team
Develop a standard phone answering greeting that everyone will use.
Thank you for calling COMPANY NAME, this is NAME, may I ask who’s calling?
Establishes reinforcement of thank you for calling,
Immediately holds you accountable for the phone conversation by introducing yourself
Allows you to find out who is on the other end of the phone.
This is an especially helpful way to screen the caller without the awkward moment before you transfer.
Establish Guidelines for Telephone Etiquette
Find ways to give friendly constructive criticism. At first, everyone might not understand the importance of phone manners.
Demonstrate by example.
Have a friend call in and test those who you might be concerned about. If it becomes an issue, alert your Executive.
Listen for tonality and yelling at customers. Alert your team member in case they weren’t aware they were getting out of control.
Remember the phone is usually someone’s first impression. Help your team make a unified great impression.
Give Team Members Advice
When you have a moment, begin to talk to the customer. Be receptive to their feedback and thoughts.
For example, if you’re waiting for your Executive to get off the phone and the customer just wants to hold, instead of putting them on hold, what if you started a conversation to learn about them and their business?
Write it down and start building phone log profiles. Every bit of information adds up.
Share these profiles with your Executive.
Ask Questions for Your Own Benefit
10 Personality Traits of an Exceptional Executive Assistant
7. High Energy
9. Team orientation
Based on research by Raymond Cattell.
Exceptional Executive Assistants must be able to tolerate frustration and stress.
Overall, they must be well-adjusted and have the psychological maturity to deal with anything they are required to face.
Exceptional Executive Assistants are active, expressive, and energetic.
They must be optimistic and open to change.
Overall, they should always be quick and alert. It is also important to remain uninhibited.
Exceptional Executive Assistants are dominated by a sense of duty and be very exacting in character.
They usually have a very high standard of excellence and an inward desire to do one's best.
It’s very important for them to be self-disciplined.
Exceptional Executive Assistants are practical, logical, and to-the-point.
They tend to be low in sentimental attachments and comfortable with criticism.
Additionally, they are usually very poised.
Self-confidence and resiliency are common traits among Exceptional Executive Assistants.
They tend to be free of guilt and have little or no need for approval.
They are generally secure and are usually unaffected by prior mistakes or failures.
Exceptional Executive Assistants are controlled and very precise in their social interactions.
Overall, they were very protective of their integrity and reputation and consequently tended to be socially aware and careful, abundant in foresight, and very careful when making decisions or determining specific actions.
Long hours are usually a prerequisite for Executive Assistant positions, especially as your company grows.
Remaining alert and staying focused are two of the greatest obstacles you will have to face as an Executive Assistant.
Rapid changes in the world today combined with information overload result in an inability to "know" everything. In other words, reasoning and logic will not get you through all situations.
It’s important to learn to the value of using your intuition and trusting their "gut" when making decisions.
The key here is to know your boundaries and not make decisions you’re not authorized to make!
Business leaders today put a strong emphasis on team work. As an Executive Assistant, you must foster this team relationship.
Make sure your Executive is aware of team dynamics and is informed in order to give recognition to team members.
Being able to "put yourself in the other person's shoes" is a key trait of Executive Assistant today.
Without empathy, you can't build trust. And without trust, you will never be able to get the best effort from your Executive or their Team Members.
It will be you tracking someone down to meet a deadline when they are late and a little empathy can go a long way in creating a more productive work environment.
That will help you develop the Exceptional Executive Assistant Personality… A Few Final Thoughts…
If you're feeling a bit moody, smile. Do this even when you're on the telephone. Experts say it reflects in your tone, even if people can't see your facial expressions.
And while there is no reason to walk around the office with a permanent silly or fake grin, a pleasant expression will attract others to communicate with you (versus a harried "can't you see I'm busy and stressed; keep your distance” expression.
Reiterating the Importance of Smiling
Set the standard high for excellence in all you do. If you are organized, utilize systems, have a cheerful personality, excellent phone manners, are always offering to help out, etc., it will encourage others to step up to not look foolish next to you.
Your Executive will also be looking better too, which is additional motivation for them to get their act together.
Set the Standard of Excellence
Just because you’re working at the Executive level, doesn’t mean you should distance yourself from all members of the team. Make sure to interact with everyone at least once a week. This means at minimum, a Hello NAME, how do you do? Know everyone’s name.
Your first few weeks, do lunch with as many people as possible. It’ll get you an opportunity to build relationships and trust, as well as know the team members outside the office so you know what makes them tick.
Gives you a chance to be the eyes and ears for your Executive.
Walk around and talk to people
In walking around, be genuine in their interests. These are the people who you will be relying on and who will be relying on you for the extended future.
Importantly, if you don’t like someone, it doesn’t mean you don’t respect them.
Be Passionate about everything covered in the Training Primer – a lot of the material are things you have to live, not things you can fake your way through.