On pretty much every job description for Assistants, you will see the phrase, ‘must be a team player’. It is so common that it is easy to skim over that requirement – sure, we all have to be team players, next! But, I want to pause a minute and look at the skills required to be a team player. It is a critical skill for Assistants as we have to align our goals with that of our Executive and our organisation. If we don’t see our partnership with our Executive as a team pursuit, the relationship will always struggle to get off the ground. We need to work well with people from all parts of the business, and we need to collaborate with everyone around us. So, Assistants, we do have to see ourselves as part of a team, and these are the skills you need that will help you do just that!
Assistants we are ultimate team players!
For Assistants, giving feedback and offering advice is so critical. We have to keep an open dialogue with our Executives so that we know the partnership is working effectively, which means we also have to give our Executive feedback. Eeekkk right? This is hard, providing feedback to the person that runs the team? Department? Division? Organisation? Yup! It is part of the role, and if given constructively and with the right mindset (and timed correctly) can help improve your role and ultimately your career. Offering well-meaning advice will always make you a team player.
Every business and organisation needs its employees to work together, to move projects forward and reach common goals. Collaboration is an essential skill for everyone. However, for Assistants, collaboration is vital. We have to work with other members of staff on projects and reaching common goals. We also have to build a fantastic relationship with our Executives, which are based so heavily on collaboration, trust and cooperation. To succeed as an Assistant, we need to be collaborative.
Knowing how to influence those around you is a brilliant skill to have, and Assistants do this regularly. Think about your area of expertise within your team, what are you really good at and what sets you apart from other member’s of your team and other Assistants in your organisation? What is your area of influence? This is the stuff that you know inside out and back to front and can help other people in your team.
Communication is something we do instinctively, and it is something we do without much thought daily with team and those around us. Choosing the right words and tone, proactively listening and genuinely getting our message across are skills that we need to continue to finesse and with so many new ways to communicate with our Executives and teams, Assistants must know the best way to keep in contact, how to use that form of communication and when to use it.
Assistants have buckets full of compassion; you wouldn’t be in the job if you didn’t. What I find is that empathy can often be taken advantage of by people who don’t respect what we do – be it, that colleague who wants your time or that Executive who doesn’t understand your role. Empathy can quickly diminish when you don’t feel respected, or quite frankly someone just pisses you off. So empathy is essential – you have to figure out why someone is acting the way that they are and deal with them accordingly. Compassion is hard to muster sometimes but try to understand where they are coming from you will feel 100% better – trust me!
Assistants have to roll with the punches. They have not to let the never-ending changes (hello rescheduling) get them down. Organisations are now moving at such a speed that flexibility is becoming a real sort after skill. You have got to get yourself in a mindset that allows for constant change.
Persuading people to do things for you or getting them around to your way of thinking is tough but, again, how much easier would your job be if you had excellent persuasion skills? Being persuasive comes down to communication and confidence, speaking passionately yes, but also getting people to think it was their idea in the first place. I’ve always found if you talk passionately about something but base what you are saying it is harder to be ignored.
Ooofff, patience is a tough one, right? When your Executive asks you the same question 20 times it is your human right to go bat shit crazy at them. But don’t. You’ll be sacked, even if you are obviously in the right. That is where patience comes in because part of our role is to answer all of those questions and be helpful. Breath, reset and go again.
Assistants must gain their Executive and team’s confidence. They rely so heavily on you that the only way for the relationship to work is if they can trust you with anything they throw at you. You also have to inspire trust in your colleagues; you are the bridge between the top level. Executive’s and the rest of the employees, so they have to trust that you know what you are doing. If they don’t, you will find they go straight to the Executive rather than coming to you first. This can cause no end of headaches for you. So, inspiring trust both in terms of keeping confidence but also inspiring others to trust your skills. Getting this right will make your job a whole lot easier.