As I’ve always said our main role as assistants is to free up time in our executive’s day so that they can focus on the big stuff. There are so many ways we can help them with this from managing their calendar effectively, minimising interruptions and generally keeping them on track. Another way we can ensure our managers stay focused is to take control of certain tasks that they should really have no involvement with (or should just been informed as and when they need to be). I’ve written the list of tasks in quite a formal way so that readers can transfer these paragraphs into their job descriptions. So which tasks should assistants have complete controlled over?

1. Communications 

Assistants should draft all communications to staff including notes for meetings, updates or news. If the note is important or it is high level information assistants should draft the communication for their executive, asking them to review or amend the details before they send the communication out on behalf of their executive. Assistants should also deal with all inbound communications, organise and decide which information the executive should be made aware of.

2. Research

Assistants should conduct research on behalf of their manager. This could be anything from finding out details on a new client and their business to checking other organisations annual returns or simply viewing a new business contact LinkedIn profile. This not only saves the executive time doing the research themselves but also better preparing them for meeting new individuals.

3. Administration of documents

Assistants should manage the administration of documents on behalf of their manager. Deciding which documents their executive should read (assistants should schedule time in the Executive’s diary for catching up on paperwork / reading etc), forwarding documents to other members of staff as appropriate or filing information for a later date. Assistants should also ensure that all confidential documents are securely locked away or shredded. All documents which are sent to the executive should firstly go to the assistant so that they can print or format the documents for their Executive to read in the scheduled time. The same applies for board papers and board level reports.

4. Email and diary management

Assistants should manage all of their executive’s emails. They should be able to reply to incoming emails and also send out emails on behalf of their manager. The executive’s calendar should be completely controlled by their assistant and the executive shouldn’t edit the calendar at all (in an ideal world!) Instead they should direct all meeting requests to their assistant. The executive should be kept in the loop when changes are made to the diary and this should be discussed during the assistant/executive daily catch up meeting.

5. Business travel

Executives should not organise their own business travel, no matter how easy or quick they think it is! Assistants should manage all aspects of their executives business travel including both domestic and international trips. Updates and travel plans should be discussed with the executive during the daily catchup meeting.

6. Purchase orders, invoices and expenses

Assistants should be in control of all financial aspects relating to their executive’s office including purchase orders and invoices. Assistants should also manage the expenses process for their manager – organising receipts, completing paperwork etc. Ideally assistants should have the authority to sign off invoices and expenses (for other members of staff) on behalf of their manager. If this is not an option assistants should schedule time in their manager’s diary for signing documents.

7. Holiday and sickness records

If the executive runs a department the assistant should manage all of their holiday and sickness records with the authority to sign off standard holiday requests and short term sickness leave. The executive should only be informed if the time off work is longer than normal or someone is out of the office on a frequent basis.

8. Administrative systems

Assistants should have complete control over all administrative systems and the day to day office management. Such tasks include: maintaining office equipment, placing stationery orders, managing office furniture, booking and maintaing meetings rooms etc. Executives should not have to worry about administration. The assistant should ensure this all runs smoothly.

9. Suppliers

Assistants should control the management of companies directly suppling their Executive and department. Including researching new suppliers, maintaining contracts, communications and invoices.

10. Point of contact

In fact, assistants should be the point of contact for all things relating to their manager. To save the executive time in their day to concentrate on the bigger picture assistants should be the filter for all communications, meeting requests, administration and finance related matters.

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2 comments

  • Carolyn February 18, 2014   Reply →

    I love this list! I can say yes to every single point.

    I’ve been working with my boss for just over 12 months. When we first started working together, I discussed a similar list of tasks with him. I said, ‘Let me do this’. It’s my job to do these things so that he doesn’t have to. He has bigger fish to fry.

    Your blog is great! I read every update.

  • Rachael July 21, 2015   Reply →

    What about the ‘personal’ side of being a personal assistant? I’ve just been told in a job interview that I may have to manage my boss’s home over the Christmas period which she plans to rent out via Air BnB…. Tasks would involve ensuring that the cleaner arrived to do their job between guests, meet and greet guests when they arrive, and collect their keys when they leave.

    Is this OK? Is this normal????

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