People are undoubtedly the best asset of every firm and having a PA network will help confirm that PA’s are an important and integral part of the organisation. We are after all brand ambassadors for our bosses, our company, ourselves and ultimately our profession.
The overall concept is to share best practice and information and to create a unified sense of collaboration between all Assistants. An internal network will help us to build stronger relationships and enable better teamwork, communication and easier delegation and reciprocation of help. As a consequence of working together it will aid the bottom line by saving time and money.
It will be especially beneficial for new starters who will get to know key contacts very quickly and feel part of a team sooner than they would without a network which can only be beneficial for the bosses and the organisation. This would also help with their induction process and ideally a ‘buddy cover’ or mentor could be assigned.
The PA network forum can be used for continual learning and dissemination of important information from the top down, similarly Assistants can offer valid suggestions, ideas and changes in possible outdated processes and procedures and once again save on time and money.
With Personal Assistants wanting to take on more responsibility this will free up time for management and avoid unnecessary duplication in teams. Knowledge sharing will cut down time for each PA and Manager to research information.
Some potential ideas for a network are:
- Create a dedicated electronic forum in order to share best practice and information
- Put every PA on a shared distribution list and ideally a closed SharePoint site for sharing information such as training & seminars
- Create a PA Calendar of relevant Internal & External PA Events for e.g. internal and external networking opportunities and information on approved trainers & ad-hoc training/conference days
- Get buy in and support from executive level with Managers fully supporting their Assistants membership
- Expand awareness of how the business works and is conducted and provide transparency where possible – I would strongly suggest an induction pack for new Personal Assistants
- Dispel the ‘Ivory Tower’ myth and work much more closely with other PAs and try to avoid working in silos and have a more collaborative outlook
- Have a launch event to promote the PA network
- Create a Team Charter and come up with rules of engagement and expectations including how long the future meetings will be, when they will take place, how often and how we will organise the agenda etc
- Decide on a future plan whether it be further CPD training, a yearly face to face conference etc
- It would be useful to conduct an interim evaluation after about 6 months to see whether the network is working – you could potentially roll out an anonymous informal survey to gauge interest levels
- DO NOT use the PA network as a platform to complain about the company or our colleagues – we believe in positivity and should work as a TEAM
The launch will let people decide if it is for them. Some Assistants will have limited experience in networking and may feel out of their comfort zone. Having a taster session may be all they need to help them see the benefits of the network.
Research has found the following to be the top ten motivators: achievement, learning, inspiring, creativity, enjoyment, improvements, financial reward, identity, purpose and stability.
I strongly believe that a network will motivate all Assistants and their job satisfaction and level of engagement will improve. By providing us with a voice there will be a significant boost in morale, motivation and confidence and a happy and content workforce will equate to increased productivity and ROI.
PA retention rates will be at an all time high and this will remove company expenditure on temps. We are worth investing in – by PAs talking to each other more there will be a huge time saving for management.
A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.
On a personal level I was inspired to make my business case after witnessing the amazing Victoria Darragh from HAYS speak at office* about ‘The Power of Internal Networks’.
I consequently set up the LinkedIn Group Collective Assistant Network – CAN
If you are interested in launching or participating in an internal PA network it would be great to have you on board. I would also love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
Jennifer Corcoran is an Office Manager with 20 years’ admin/PA experience working with Senior Executives at international level. Jennifer describes herself as a Champion of the PA Profession.