As I’ve always said, our primary 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 specific tasks that they should have no involvement with (or should just be 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 control completely?
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 prepare 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.
Assistants should 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 merely 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 records 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 materials 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 to 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 Assistant should completely control the executive’s calendar, and the executive shouldn’t edit the schedule 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 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 sick leave. The executive should only be informed if the time off work is longer than usual or someone is out of the office frequently.
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 maintaining meetings rooms etc. Executives should not have to worry about the administration. The assistant should ensure this all runs smoothly.
Assistants should control the management of companies directly supplying their Executive and department. Including researching new suppliers, maintaining contracts, communications and invoices.
10. Point of contact
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.
We have created a list of hard skills that are critical to all Executive Assistants with an example sentence that you can add to your CV to showcase the attributes that make you a critical business asset.