Assistants bring many, many amazing qualities to their roles. We are often described as a ‘jack of all trades’ which means we have many skills and can take on lots of different tasks. Yay us! Today I thought I would have a look at the 10 qualities that make a truly great Assistant. These are the qualities that will make every good assistant great!
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.
2. Strategic thinking
Assistants have to think strategically to help their Executive’s execute the Organisation’s objectives. It is the ability to look at a task, understand why it needs to be completed, how it fits in with the business’s overall strategy, why it takes precedence over other tasks, and what impact it will have on the bottom line.
3. Effective Communication
Communication skills are a vital quality needed for a great Assistant. It is the ability to choose the right communication method for the situation, the awareness of your own communication style and adapting that to fit with others, and the confidence to articulate exactly what you mean in any scenario. It is imperative that Assistants can communicate and build rapport.
In my mind diplomacy is ‘the art of dealing with people sensitively and tactfully.’ It is the ability to communicate with people using an approach that considers their feelings and potential reaction. It is a skill that allows assistants to find common ground with every person at every level of business. For these reasons, it is sooooo helpful if assistants can be diplomatic and that is why it is one of our 10 qualities of a truly great Assistant.
Assistants need to have resilience. We are constantly faced with changing and challenging situations. We have to rely on our self-confidence to bounce back from worst-case scenarios and more often than not we will be asked to help when colleagues want to limit damages (or should I say we are asked to clear up the whole sorry mess!)
Showing initiative and being proactive is vital for a great Assistant. It would help if you always were alert for opportunities to make processes and procedures better, have the confidence to make decisions and adopt new ways of working to support your Executive and the organisation’s objectives.
Having low self-esteem or confidence issues can be a real challenge in life, particularly in the office and particularly for assistants. We have a difficult job, and if we are unable to stand up for ourselves, this makes the role a lot harder. It can lead to feeling unchallenged, unappreciated and more importantly managed ineffectively by your Executive. Although not all of us are blessed with unwavering self-confidence, there are areas within the role that every assistant should feel comfortable with and have confidence in their own abilities.
8. Attention to detail
It goes without saying that the documents produced by great Assistants are grammatically correct and look professional. However, attention to detail goes beyond proofreading. This quality is in everything an Assistant does. It is making sure that everything you touch is high quality, everything that you put your name and reputation to is professional. It reflects your values and that of your Executive’s and your Organisation.
We look at our packed to-do list, and we have to decide which tasks to tackle first when all of the work is a priority with imminent deadlines. We also have our colleagues interrupting us with their own urgent questions and multiple bosses wanting attention. Of course, we also want to please and be helpful; no wonder an assistant’s role can be quite overwhelming! Due to the nature of our job, we have to remain flexible while handling multiple priorities.
10. A good sense of humour
A sense of humour is probably the greatest assist of a great Assistant. There is a lot of pressure in the role as we operate at the highest level of business. The ability to smile through the stress and the toughest times, crack a joke when colleagues are feeling sad, and shift the focus when tension arises is priceless. Here are some of the benefits of humour at work.