How can you be more accountable at work?

How can you be more accountable at work?

This week I have been working on the programme for the Future Assistant conference taking place next February. The conference will look at how the industry is changing, how the role is evolving and what skills are required to keep up with these new demands. A huge challenge we face as assistants is moving from a position of support staff, where we take on any task assigned to us, to a more proactive position where we source our own work, take on projects that we think will make a difference and make decisions based on the best interests of the business and our Executives. This is a big leap for many assistants, but one we must take in order to move the industry forward. Over the course of the year I thought I would write a few blog posts that break this challenge down. Firstly, how can you be more accountable at work?

How can you be more accountable at work?

This is a big question! What do I mean by being more accountable and why is it important for assistants? For me, being accountable means taking control of your own success, managing your workload, your career and your relationship with your Executive and your colleagues. It means, making decisions and taking ownership of the results.

It is incredibly important for us to be accountable for our work but, for some reason, this is something that we struggle with.

I think it harks back to the age old problem that we see ourselves as ‘just the assistant’, that we don’t really have the authority to question things and make decisions. We are given work to complete rather than put forward our own suggestions. The term ‘support staff’ doesn’t really help either because it suggests that we are there to only offer support, do the things that are asked of us and not much more.

This, my friends, is a load of rubbish! The role is changing, there are more opportunities for assistants than ever before and we must, must, must be accountable for our own success.

The benefits of accountability?

When you take control of your own workload, accept accountability for your actions and take real responsibility for what you are tasked with, well, the benefits are huge. Here are just a few differences you will find in your behaviour once you start to think about accountability within your role:

  • You will set yourself goals
  • You will recognise that you are the expert at what you do
  • You will recognise the power that you hold within your organisation

So, accountability – it’s a good thing right?! Yup, I’m probably talking to the converted here. But, the question is. Where do you start? Let’s have a look at how assistants, can specifically, be more accountable within the role:

What tasks do you have control over?

This is the first step to being more accountable. Have a look at all of the day to day tasks that are assigned to you. I bet there are loads. These are the tasks that you should have complete control over. They may be minor things like picking up the post every morning, through to larger tasks like managing your Exec’s schedule. For every task that you have complete control over, think to yourself – how can I make each and every task a complete success? What can I do to ensure the process attached to each task runs smoothly and is working well? Make a list of these tasks and spend some time making them more efficient. You are accountable for these tasks and you should take responsibility for their success.

Be results focused

When you are more accountable for your actions it will lead to you being much more results focused, which in turn makes you more valuable to your organisation. With everything you do, think to yourself what are the goals here, what are my objectives, what do I want to achieve and what are the useful outcomes. This level of critical thinking is really beneficial to your business because you will constantly be looking for the return on investment in everything you do. If you find you spend ages on a task that is not business critical or adds value, because you are accountable for that task, you can adjust the process and make it more effective.

What areas can you influence?

Next up. What areas can you influence? There are a whole load of tasks that you may not have direct responsibility for but you do have influence over. Again, if it helps, make a list. A task that springs to mind is working with suppliers. You are not the person that necessarily signs the contracts for new suppliers, but you do use them probably more than most so again take some responsibility for this relationship. Let your Executive know if a supplier isn’t quite working, If they are great, let other people in your organisation know so they can benefit too.

Be honest about what you are doing and where you are with tasks

Being accountable for your work doesn’t just mean that you control the good stuff, it also means you are honest when things aren’t quite working. If you decide to take more ownership of your work, then you’ll have to put your hand up when you might fall behind with deadlines or you are struggling with something. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you are working on projects that push and challenge you there will be times you need to seek advice from your Executive (just like any other member of staff).

Remember, you have to be accountable for all of your work

I remember one time I was working on a really brilliant, company wide, project. I was super excited about it and spending a lot of time working on the details. One afternoon, my Executive called me into her office for a quick catch up. She told me that she was really proud that I was working on this big project, but had noticed that I wasn’t quite up to speed with my day to day tasks and I’d missed a few things that I had always done for her. She was totally right. Yup, I was having a great time working on this new task, but I had to take account of all of the other stuff I had to do. I let the ball drop, but being accountable meant I had to put my hands up, apologise and say it wouldn’t happen again. Being accountable for your mistake sucks, but it is as important as being accountable for your successes!

What training do you need to be in total control of your work?

Another aspect of being accountable and in control of your work is the realisation that you might need some help to make each task a success. This is why it is important that you ask for training and your organisation takes your request seriously. When you are accountable you know that other people within your organisation depend on the results of your work so without training how can you perform to the best of your abilities?

Last but not least. Accountability has to begin with you. It is such an important competency for assistants and it will only become more valued as our industry moves away from a support role into a business critical role.

Putting these tips into practice

With every adjustment to your work style, you should speak to your Executive about how to implement these changes. Accountability is a brilliant competency to have as part of your career development plan and you could really flesh this out into specific SMART objectives.

Supplier of the week is Tripmate

The Practically Perfect PA supplier of the week is Tripmate. Here is everything you need to know about this new corporate travel booking platform.

Supplier of the week is Tripmate

What is Tripmate?

Tripmate is a corporate booking platform which combines rich content, fantastic rates and simplicity for the end user meaning you can book flights, hotels and car hire utilising our contracted rates quickly and efficiently saving time and money.

Why should you use Tripmate?

If you book travel, then Tripmate is for you. Our system gives you access to over 400 Airlines and 88,000 hotel and car hire providers in more than 23,000 locations. You’re able to add all those necessities like seat numbers, meal requests and frequent flyer numbers and we can implement a travel policy to suit your requirements to ensure everyone books within finance budgets.

Supplier of the week is Tripmate

The system is mobile friendly which means you can book on the go. We have a finance centre which gives you access to invoices, statements and those all-important spend reports and all travellers have access to “Tripcase”, our mobile travel app that keeps your travellers up to date with the latest flight delays, gate and time changes with direct notifications. Tripmate will also alert you during the booking process if you are travelling anywhere that may require a Visa which is a very useful feature.

Supplier of the week is Tripmate

If you’re a PA who wants to put an end to those endless flight and hotel searches, then we are confident Tripmate is the right platform for you. Here are just a few reasons why Tripmate is such a benefit for Assistants:

  • Intuitive booking platform
  • Saves time and money
  • Policy compliant
  • Rich content
  • Simple booking process

Supplier of the week is TripmateWhat’s the catch and how much will it cost me?

There is absolutely no catch whatsoever and as for the cost, we have made it as simple as possible. If you are travelling short haul (6 hours or less) within the UK and Europe, the charge is £10 per booking and if you are travelling long haul (6 hours +) then the booking fee is £20. These rates also include the booking of your hotel and or car hire option. If you book a hotel or car hire only, the fee is just £5. There are no other hidden costs or charges.

This blog post is sponsored by Tripmate. Follow the link for more information about Practically Perfect PA’s sponsored posts.

How to deal with the office downer

How to deal with the office downer

I was recently watching a brilliant interview with the former Assistant to Mark Zukerberg, Anikka Fragodt. During her presentation she said that she was always open and approachable with her colleagues at Facebook because she felt part of her role was to council her colleagues and pass their fears and concerns onto her Executive. This is so true and such a vital part of the role… But, as we all know, some colleagues are easier to interact with than others! In our continued series about building relationships with colleagues, today, we will look at how to deal with the office downer.

Read More
Day in the life from Cressida Ford, PA at Cardiff University

Day in the life from Cressida Ford, PA at Cardiff University

This month we have a day in the life from Cressida Ford, PA at Cardiff University. Cressida recently spoke at the Assist Conference. She was full of useful tips and very charismatic on stage. This brilliant day in the life gives you guys a little insight into her warm personality and a fantastic outlook on life and the role of a PA. 

Read More
Ground rules for team meetings

Ground rules for team meetings

A really fundamental task for assistants is organising your department team meetings. If your organisation is anything like the businesses I used to work for I bet you organise A LOT of team meetings. I know that most of you are aware that some meetings are not the best use of time, but did you know something like $37 billion a year is lost to unnecessary team meetings?! That’s crazy right? The statistics don’t end there with 73% of people admit to doing unrelated work in their meetings. If anything, these statistics show that some work needs to be done to make the meetings worthwhile and effective. As so many of you organise team meetings this is an area that you could add real value and a great place to start would be working on some ground rules for team meetings.

Read More
Technology of the week: Join.me

Technology of the week: Join.me

Today’s Technology of the week: Join.me. Here are all the details…

What is Join.me

Join.me is an online platform and app that allows for easy video or audio conferencing. You don’t need to download any software as everything is available on the website for use. The Price is based on a freemium model so and you can access the 14 day free trial to test all of the features.

Read More