A few years ago I had a really brilliant mentor. She started working for my organisation just a few months before I started, but she had been working for my Executive for a few years and had followed her from their previous firm. They had a brilliant relationship and my Executive completely trusted her and actually suggested her as my mentor. When I sat down for our first meeting together, my mentor gave me a piece of advice that I always followed in my EA career. She said that I have to go out of my way to impress my Executive. It is the most important relationship I will have, the closest colleague and the person that can easily open doors for me. She was so right and from then on I made my Executive my number one ‘client’, so to speak and went out of my way to make sure they were always impressed with my work. So in this post I thought I would share 20 ways to impress your Executive. Here they are…
20 ways to impress your Executive
- Beat deadlines: Okay, first things first. Never ever be the person that your Executive has to chase for work. That is an absolute PA no, no. Sure, there are times when for whatever reason you might not hit your deadline, that needs to be clearly communicated. But, never leave your Executive in the dark when it comes to work commitments. The best way to impress your Executive is to beat those deadlines, especially for work that is urgent or will really help them out. Beating deadlines really are down to prioritising your tasks correctly and managing your time effectively.
- Be positive: Nobody wants to be around negativity, it is just so draining. Sometimes it isn’t always easy to be positive about work, but it is a must. For your Executive, you need to be the easy person to manage and you need to be positive about work, tasks and the challenges that your organisation face. Being a positive influence in the organisation is really powerful.
- Constantly improve their productivity: You are there to save your Executive time, so if you are constantly thinking of new ways to improve efficiencies and their time they will be super impressed. It really can be from the little things, like you brought them a coffee at the time they usually go themselves or you hired a new ground transportation service that saved them half an hour at the airport. This is the stuff that gets noticed.
- Suggest new technology: Who doesn’t like an awesome new app on their phone that really works? Err, Nobody! We are all susceptible to cool new technology trends, so make sure you are up-to-date on technology that will really help support your Executive and of course, hook them up and show them how it works!
- Be prepared for meetings: This was my Executive’s absolute pet peeve. Woe betide anyone who turned up to a meeting unprepared. Time is precious peeps and you have to make sure when you have a meeting with your Executive you hit the ground running. Prepare for every meeting. In fact, for extra points you should really run any meeting that you have with your Executive. Come with an agenda and note any actions to follow up on.
- Be prepared for the unexpected: Okay, this is a tricky one. It is basically what we call mind-reading and that is not easy. In fact, preparing for the unexpected takes a lot of time and practice and well… Experience. But, it starts with you knowing everything there is to know about the business and the people who work for the business. The more you know about what is going on, the more you can prepare and plan for any emergencies, urgent matters or anything that comes up. At the start of every day look through the agenda and tasks and think to yourself ‘what might come up today that nobody has thought about?’
- Ask for feedback: Not just during your annual review, but after the important tasks and projects. Asking for feedback (good and bad) shows that you take your career seriously and that your Executive should also take your career seriously. It can be really easy for busy Executive’s to forget all of the amazing things you do. When you ask for feedback, it makes them pause for a moment and realise, actually you are brilliant.
- Be honest: Assistants are in such a privileged position to work so closely with the decision makers in the organisation. Not many people are that fortunate. But with great privilege comes great responsibility (to paraphrase Spiderman) so we have to make sure we are there to really support our Executive and that does mean, I’m afraid, being honest. When your opinion is sort – be honest. When there is something your Executive needs to hear – be honest. When you have to start a difficult conversation with another member of staff – be honest. It is much easier ducking out of a difficult conversation, but if you maintain your integrity, trust me, your Executive will be impressed.
- Be poised: Someone at work once described me as being like a swan. I was very calm on the surface, but clearly working my butt off under the water. When I told my friends and family this they burst out laughing, clearly, in my personal life this is very much not the case. However, at work I am pretty poised. I don’t get stressed and flustered easily. My Executives used to find this very calming and it them trust me.
- Organise team activities and social stuff: Keeping the team’s morale up is not always top of a busy Executive’s agenda, but it should, and more importantly, they know it should be. If you are able to take that task off their hands they will be forever grateful. So, every few weeks organise a few after work drinks, or a game of bowling or something that will help boost morale. Don’t forget to invite your boss!
- Keep up to date with industry news: Be in the know. Read all the material that your Executive is reading so that you know what they are talking about. G0 that one step further and
- Smile: In the face of adversity. Seriously, smiling is pretty infectious and a really simple way to brighten up your Executive’s day when they are having a bad one.
- Own your work: This is such an obvious way to impress your Executive but one that many people don’t do. Take ownership of your role, your career and actually what you need to deliver. Your success at work helps drive the organisation forward so always take responsibility for your part in the machine.
- Be passionate about what you do: This isn’t always easy I know, particularly when you are re-printing the same board pack for the 20th time or photocopying 50 taxi receipts for an expense claim. However, people want to work with people who are passionate about what they do. Be passionate about your role as an Assistant, about supporting your Executive and their objectives, about the wider organisation and industry.
- Be loyal: This is a sure fire way to impress your Executive. Always, always be loyal to them. Make sure that they know you have their back.
- Believe in your opinion: It isn’t easy standing up for yourself and your opinion, but actually you will gain the respect of your colleagues and impress your Executive if you have confidence in yourself. It goes without saying that you should pick your battles, but if you truly believe in something you should stand your ground and communicate your thoughts. Your Executive has the ultimate say in things but they will certainly need a variety of opinions to help form their decisions and your opinion should be one of them.
- Be a sounding board: Having someone who can act as a sounding board for an Executive really is priceless. They have so many decisions to make on a daily basis. If they can just run a few by someone whom they trust and know won’t divulge anything that is confidential they will be so much better off. That, dear reader, is where you come in! Be their sounding board, offer them some advice and be honest.
- Be open to new challenges: Do stuff that scares you, that makes you grow, that takes you completely out of your comfort zone. This stuff is impressive. Remember to tell your Executive you are doing this stuff!
- Always come with solutions: There are always going to be problems at work. Sometimes they feel like they are daily and you are constantly putting out fires. Whatever the case, if you have to tell your Executive bad news, make sure you come a solution that will help fix that problem or better yet, tell them the bad news after you’ve fixed the problem!
- Get the fundamentals right: And this is my last point. Make sure you get the everyday stuff right. The diary management, the travel plans, the admin, the minute taking, the day to day tasks. All the stuff that makes the office run smoothly – you have to get it right. All the time. Don’t drop the ball, even if you are working on a super important project. When this stuff starts to slip your Executive will (annoyingly) notice
So, there you go. 20 ways to impress your Executive. Go knock their socks off!