Executive assistants play a vital role within any business. They not only complete necessary office tasks, but great administrative assistants also anticipate the needs of top-level management. They ensure smooth operations for an organization, essentially driving the overall success of the business.
That’s why administrative assistants and company leadership need to set clear business goals. Goals focused on improving essential skills, enhancing knowledge, and fostering personal development will help executive assistants excel in their roles. This article explores key business goals that executive assistants and their leaders should consider setting to enhance performance and contribute to organizational success.
What Makes a Good Executive Assistant?
An executive assistant is the organizational fulcrum of a high-level executive’s office, playing an instrumental role in managing schedules, communicating on behalf of the executive, and facilitating efficient operations. However, the major thing that makes a good executive assistant is their ability to make everyone else’s job easier. In order to do this, assistants need special qualities and skills
One of those is having exceptional organizational skills. Given the high-volume, high-pressure nature of the work, an executive assistant must be adept at juggling multiple tasks. They also need to be great at keeping track of crucial details and prioritizing them effectively.
Assistants also need to be great communicators. An executive assistant can sometimes serve as a gatekeeper and ambassador. They interact with various people all day so they need to be able to be clear with their communication and practice active listening.
Also, because using technology is a big part of their jobs, executive assistants should be tech-savvy. A good executive assistant must be comfortable using a range of software applications, from email and calendar tools to project management and video conferencing platforms.
Now that you have a good idea of the things that make an executive assistant great, let’s look at some goals they can set or you can set for them to improve their effectiveness in the workplace.
1. Become a Better Communicator
One of the most essential skills an administrative assistant should have is strong communication. By improving this skill, they can effectively convey information to their supervisors, foster collaboration among teams, build strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders, and resolve issues efficiently.
To become better communicators, executive assistants should focus on improving written and verbal communication skills. They should also work on their active listening abilities. To improve communication, you can join an organization like Toastmasters. This is a communication and leadership non-profit built around public speaking. Through their meetings, you can learn your communication strengths and weaknesses.
Practicing effective communication techniques can significantly improve the overall effectiveness of executive assistants. For example, things like clear and concise messaging, empathy, and adapting communication styles to different individuals. Becoming a better communicator doesn’t happen overnight and is a skill that can be constantly improved upon.
2. Improve Knowledge Of Office Applications and Systems
Another goal to consider is improving knowledge of office applications and systems. Executive assistants often rely on various office applications and systems to complete administrative tasks. They must have a comprehensive understanding of how these tools function. Also, they should know how to best utilize them to streamline processes and increase efficiency.
One way to do so is by using the training programs that many software companies provide to familiarize users with their features and capabilities. Administrative assistants should actively seek out opportunities for learning and professional development around new software as well.
Sometimes tools become outdated or a business outgrows them. Considering alternative systems to meet business needs ensures that they are using technology to their advantage. Staying up to date on office applications and systems will help streamline processes and increase efficiency.
3. Learn a New Skill Outside of the Role
Executive assistants should always strive for continuous professional development. One way to do this is by learning skills that don’t necessarily fall under the job description. Proactively learning new skills shows initiative and can broaden their horizons. Developing skills outside of their current role also brings additional value to their position.
Administrative assistants should identify skills that complement their role and align with their interests and career aspirations. This may include acquiring project management skills, digital marketing expertise, proficiency in a foreign language, data analysis, or any other relevant area.
There are several different ways to gain new skills.
- Mentorship From a Colleague: Finding a mentor in a field or role that the employee is interested in can be an incredibly enriching experience. Mentors can provide practical insights, share their expertise, and guide the employee in their learning journey. This could be someone within the same organization or from outside.
- Job Shadowing– At some workplaces, job shadowing is a way to observe and learn new skills from others around you. Job shadowing means that you spend a few days with co-workers outside of your current position to see how they spend their day and do their jobs.
- Volunteering for Projects: Volunteering for a project can provide an opportunity for practical experience. This could be within their current organization (e.g., joining a cross-functional project) or outside of it (e.g., volunteering for a non-profit). Alternatively, they could initiate their own side project related to the skill they want to learn.
Learning a new skill outside of their roles is a good goal to have for many employees. However, this isn’t a good goal for new employees. Be sure to pursue this goal once the executive assistant has mastered their main responsibilities. Otherwise, they may become overwhelmed.
4. Improve Productivity
The to-do list of administrative assistants is never-ending. They need to be able to efficiently complete tasks and effectively prioritize their task list to meet deadlines. Finding ways to decrease the amount of time it takes to complete core administrative responsibilities will allow executive assistants to allocate more time and energy to strategic initiatives and supporting their supervisors effectively.
Setting goals to improve productivity involves analyzing workflows, identifying bottlenecks, and implementing strategies to optimize time management. Developing systems for essential duties such as document management, scheduling meetings, and information retrieval is key to optimizing their time. They should also utilize technology to automate tasks when possible. Knowing when to delegate tasks to others is another way to optimize time utilization.
5. Develop a Clear Plan for the Next Career Phase
One goal that may often be overlooked is planning a clear career path. Outlining the next phase of their career will ensure long-term professional growth within the company. Leadership can aid in the development of this plan and support it by offering certain opportunities or projects that align with their career trajectory.
This can involve setting achievable business goals such as pursuing further education opportunities. Also, they can help with obtaining advanced certifications or transitioning to a different role within the company where they may serve better.
By outlining where they see their career going and the necessary steps to do so, executive assistants will be able to work towards acquiring relevant skills and seize any opportunities that may arise. Regularly reassessing and updating the career plan helps administrative assistants stay on track and proactively pursue growth opportunities.
Executive assistants play a pivotal role in supporting organizational leadership and ensuring efficient operations. To maximize their potential and continue to excel in their role, administrative assistants should set goals that enhance their communication skills, expand their knowledge of office applications and systems, learn new skills outside of their role, improve productivity, and plan for their future careers.
By actively pursuing these business goals, executive assistants can ensure they are setting themselves up for continued professional development. Likewise, company leadership should encourage and support these aspirations. They should recognize the significant value that executive assistants bring to the table and the integral role they play in achieving overall business success.