An executive assistant should make your life much easier. Less work load means less stress.
But what if you had to double-check everything your executive assistant did before it went out the door? Verify your scheduling arrangements? Read every email before they sent it?
If that were the case, it might seem easier to just do everything yourself and avoid the hassle.
Yet, if the relationship is working correctly, an executive assistant should be like an extension of yourself.
An executive assistant holds a high-trust position. There needs to be mutual respect, confidence, and shared expectations between the two of you. When that’s the case, everything works smoothly and your executive assistant will be around for the long term.
What Should You Expect From Your Executive Assistant?
To break even, your executive assistant should make you 8% more productive and save you about five hours each 60-hour work week. Getting there means defining expectations.
Not everyone has the same expectations of their executive assistant, of course. There are different “levels” of expectation, and you should be honest about what you really want. Do you just want someone to handle basic tasks and management? Or are you leveling up and expecting strategic input?
With that in mind, let’s look at what you should generally expect from your executive assistant.
Executive assistants are competent.
Competency means your EA has to have the basic skills and knowledge to do the job that you are expecting of them.
This isn’t just a list of software they know, or the ability to construct coherent emails. Competency is being able to handle all aspects woven into the job.
Does your EA adapt to sudden changes quickly? Can they handle rush situations? Are they able to prioritize their work flow? And most importantly, are they organized?
No EA is going to make you 8% more productive if they’re disorganized and bad at managing time. Ultimately, the way your EA manages time will be how you manage time. Incompetence often appears as poor time management.
Executive assistants have experience.
Past experience in an executive assistant position is reassuring, and it makes it easier to trust a new EA sooner.
But what’s the right amount of experience? That can vary, and you might find a great EA whose personality is a better fit even though they have less experience than other candidates.
Still, unless you plan on hiring someone with zero experience and creating a bespoke executive assistant to fit your needs perfectly, past experience is a definite selling point. It means your EA will be up to speed quickly.
Experience also provides you with a chance to check references to get a sense of compatibility before hiring.
Executive assistants are a step ahead of you.
Your executive assistant should be able to know what you need before you ask for it.
This means they are paying attention and not just clocking in. It starts with them understanding you. They see how you work. They see the patterns. They begin to predict what you’ll want or need next. They step in the gaps before you realize there are any.
This is all about having compatible personalities and work styles, and an overall good work culture fit. It’s about your EA adapting not just to what’s expected, but to what’s needed. Sometimes you aren’t even aware of what’s needed, but if your EA is a step ahead, they do.
What Should Your Executive Assistant Expect From You?
It’s easy to fixate on what you expect from your executive assistant, but if we’re talking about a great working relationship, we have to flip that question back on you. This is a partnership, and it goes both ways.
Be as transparent as possible right away.
A lack of transparency makes it impossible for your executive assistant to be of real help.
Make sure you give your executive assistant all of the information they need to do their job. Without it, they can’t meet your expectations. They will have to come to you constantly for information you haven’t provided. This negates many of the benefits of an executive assistant.
You don’t have to give your executive assistant every detail about every aspect of your life, or a daily tally of your bank accounts, but being too private or vague with information will derail your EA.
Don’t be afraid to over-communicate.
Communication is how you establish trust. It’s how you flush out things that are bothering or confusing you.
Both of you need to learn each other’s communication styles early on, and choose communication technology that fits how you both work. Remote work especially requires great communication, but regardless, there’s no such thing as over-communication.
One of the best ways to communicate with your executive assistant is to share your inbox.
You want your EA to be in your emails, and neither of you should be afraid of that. It’s how your EA knows who you’re communicating with, what they need, and what’s going on. They learn your voice, client expectations, and get a better understanding of what’s necessary.
Be clear with shared goals and outcomes.
Both you and your executive assistant should have the same goal post in front of you. Anything less, and all movement will end up in opposition at some point.
Be clear about where you want your organization to go. This is not the time to be vague about how you define success and your ideal outcomes. Your EA can’t properly gauge their work without knowing where to aim.
Move At The Speed Of Trust
To move at the speed of trust means you can’t move faster than trust allows.
We’ve already said that a high trust factor is necessary with an executive assistant. According to FranklinCovey, moving at the speed of trust involves confronting reality, creating transparency, communicating clearly, and then extending trust.
What does that look like in practice?
- Understand why trust is important. Trust allows you to work through disagreements. With trust, people are willing to work harder and share ideas. They respond to the opportunity to take the lead and show you what they can do.
- Get in front of what destroys trust. Distrust comes from inconsistent messaging and practice. Distant communication and unfair responses also kill trust.
- Build trust. Trust is built methodically, through genuine effort at fostering a relationship with your team. You must be consistent, and show good judgment and stability in what you ask of them.
- Choose to trust. Trusting someone isn’t easy. There’s always risk. It’s not easy to give up a sense of power and control. Choose to trust anyway.
The speed of trust sounds slow, and like a lot of work.
With an executive assistant, that high-trust factor is not only ideal, it’s required. Without trust, expectations won’t be met and a successful, long-term relationship won’t be built.
Finding someone you can trust doesn’t need to be difficult.
At Boldly, we’ve gone through the work to find only top quality executive assistants using a highly selective process. We’ve built a team with Fortune 500 experience, and have a system in place that matches work styles and personalities with our clients. Because of this, our executive assistants work with clients for the long-term, with an average of 2.5 years.
Ready to reduce your stress? Getting started with your new executive assistant is just a click away.