Administrative Assistants are the unsung heroes of the business world – truly they are. They spend tireless amounts of time and effort deciphering the expectations and communications from their executives and creating solutions to keep everything running smoothly. Once an executive learns about the value that their admin already brings to the table, they can begin to strengthen their relationship strategically to create a powerhouse team of success!
We loved an article we found from Adam Hergenrother, founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Companies. In the article he recalls an, “Ah-ha!” moment in which he ended up needing to have a very real and honest conversation with his Chief of Staff about her need to grow in her career and whether it was possible to do so at their company. Adam deeply appreciated the honesty that she brought into the conversation, as well as the desire she expressed to stay in the company if at all possible. What Adam realized was that her ability to come to him early and honestly, instead of waiting until she was at her breaking point, spoke volumes about the type of relationship they had.
Adam also realized that he wanted to grow their relationship into the type that would be able to provide her with the tools, resources and experience she needed to excel in her career. He outlined 5 Ways to Build a Strategic Partnership with Your Admin, which we will elaborate on below:
Give Up Control
An executive must allow their Executive Assistant (EA) to shine. It’s not always easy, especially when building your relationship with a new EA, but that’s exactly what the role is intended for – to take tasks off your plate. EAs shine brightest when they have the flexibility to get the job done their way – which is usually the right way. A talented EA will manage you to a point that will allow you to focus on your priorities in the company – a winning strategy!
Bring Them Into Your Inner Circle
Being able to see an EA as an extension of themselves is a great advantage for an executive. When an executive keeps their EA tentatively on the sidelines, it not only communicates mistrust, but it keeps the EA from being able to think like the executive and ultimately, make decisions as they would. The more an EA knows about their executive, how their mind works and what is going on in their world, the more effective their decisions will be. The more the executive trusts the EA’s decision-making, the more the executive can relax and focus on growing the business.
Keeping an EA in the dark never did anyone an ounce of good. The first step is to choose a communication tool that works best for BOTH parties – Slack, Google Hangouts, etc. – and allow each other the freedom to ask any questions and share any pertinent business information. Set weekly meeting times to ensure that you are touching base on the big picture consistently. In person communication is great as well, but we all know how busy some weeks can get and it’s easy to let the time get away from you!
Set Clear Goals, Expectations and Wins
Adam said it best, “how do they know they are winning with you?”. Just as you would create quantifiable goals with other departments (sales, marketing, etc.), executives should be communicating clear expectations for what is expected of the EA and where they need to be. Clear goals help people to know when they are ready to take the next step forward, and when to evaluate and reevaluate. Creating a “reward system” to incentivize the EA is another wonderful component to ensure that the EA is feeling valued and encouraged to keep up the moment that drives your team toward success.
Make Building Trust a Priority
The key component at the end-of-the-day, is trust. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it should certainly be a goal. Once trust is established in the relationship between the executive and the EA, they can both breathe a sigh of relief and move full speed ahead into their separate roles. Trust creates the foundation for a lasting and valuable business relationship between and EA and executive.