In my recent blog on what I think Assistants can expect in 2013, I briefly discussed the relationship between assistants and how teamwork and support of each other will become more critical this year. I thought I would go into a bit more detail and give some tips on how we can work as a team.
Working as a team
If your company is anything like mine, then you will also have Assistants spread out across different units, floors, offices and Countries reporting into different managers with varying degrees of seniority. It is now extremely rare for there to be a pool of Assistants all working together as a team reporting into one manger. With this structure, it is difficult to see yourself as part of a team of assistants, mainly as we have different priorities however I do believe if Assistants work together it does benefit us all. So how do we do this?
Bond over shared experiences
Do you know all of the assistants in your office? Do you only email each other or speak briefly on the phone when you need something? If this is the case, then trust me you are not the only one as it can be hard to get to know people at work when you are so busy. Nevertheless, it is worth getting to know your fellow assistants so to do this organise for all you to go out for a few drinks after work or get everyone together for lunch. It is so helpful knowing the other assistants by their name and their face so once you are all together, trust me conversation will flow as you all have so much in common!
Hold a regular team meeting for all of the assistants, once a month is more than enough, but it is worthwhile. You can put together an agenda so that the meeting isn’t just there for people to vent but talk about best practice, improvements in the office, frustrations, and achievements. Suppliers can be invited along to discuss the company’s requirements, and you could even ask your colleagues to come in and present their area of the business so that all of the assistants are aware of what happens in other departments. There is so much you can do at these meetings, and I highly recommend you have them.
Support each other
How often do you think to yourself ‘my colleagues have no idea what I do and what I have to put up with in this role?’ Well, guess what, other Assistants in your company know exactly what you go through because they are going through the same thing every day. Try to be supportive of each other, if an assistant looks unwell or stressed or just run off their feet send a supportive email or ask if they need any help or simply take them a cup of tea. We don’t have much support in that we usually work independently and don’t often get asked how we are (especially if your manager isn’t that way inclined) so do look out for each other.
Provide cover for them
You know that feeling when you come back from annual leave, and you know you have hundreds of emails, umpteen voicemails and goodness knows what left on your desk to deal with? How great would it be if you had one of your assistants covering your work while you were away so that you didn’t have all of that waiting for you? Providing cover is the best thing assistants can do for each other, yes the assistant covering will be busier for a week or two but when they go away they will have a much more excellent break knowing their manager is being looked after and won’t call in a panic when they should be drinking margaritas by the pool! The basic rules are that you try to do as much of the work you need to before you leave, you give the covering assistant outstanding notes to follow, and you buy them something lovely as a thank you gift.
So I hope you see the benefits of working as a team with your fellow assistants and supporting each other. I have found this a great help over the last few years, and I hope you have too… if not try to implement some of my ideas; it does make a big difference.