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.

What does it mean to be a collaborative Assistant?

There are so many ways that Assistants can be collaborative and showcase their skills in this area. I’m going to list all of the different areas that I think will showcase a collaborative Assistant.

  1. Understanding the mission: You need to know what your work means and how it fits into the overall scheme of things. You can be much more collaborative if you understand the goals and strategies of the business.
  2. Understanding what is expected of you: What does your Executive expect of you? How does your work and what you do make a difference? Understanding the expectations of those around – and of course, living up to the expectations will help you be seen as a team player and someone who collaborates.
  3. Sharing the responsibility: When you are a collaborative Assistant, you know what your work means and you are responsible for the delivery of the work. Make sure you hit deadlines and present good quality work. Share the responsibility of getting the goals completed and moving the business forward.
  4. Asking for feedback: When you are working collaboratively with your Executive and colleagues, you need to have clarity around your goals and objectives. You need to ask for feedback – are you on the right track, is there anything that you can change so that your work is adding value?
  5. Knowing your strengths and building on your weaknesses: Collaborative Assistants understand what they are good at and showcase their talents. They put their hands up for projects they know they can ace and help drive the business forward. They also know which areas they can work on and develop. A collaborative Assistant can play to their strengths and help support their team.
  6. Going to the meetings: If you want to collaborate and feel part of the team (or in a team with your Executive), you need to go to the meetings. Be involved, find out what is happening at the meetings (not afterwards or through the grapevine). Go to the meetings.
  7. Having a ‘can-do’ attitude: When everyone is working towards achieving something, a ‘can-do’ attitude really can help to overcome obstacles and reach the result. For Assistants, a positive can-do attitude will get you far. It can also lead to innovation and finding new ways of working.
  8. Communicating all the time: We all know that Assistants need to have very effective communication skills. These skills shine when you also collaborate effectively. Traits of a collaborative Assistant include knowing how to communicate so that your message is heard, actively listening to your Executive so that you truly understand what is required of you. You should never withhold information that will move the business forward. Never be scared to share your perspective.
  9. Emotionally intelligent: Collaboration is so essential for a successful Assistant / Executive partnership. To get to a point where you can collaborate quickly and efficiently, you have to get to know each other on an emotional level. Assistants have to understand how their Executive’s operate and what drives them. If they are snappy and irritable, why is that? What is the bigger picture, and what can you do to help get them back on an even keel. Collaboration is often about assessing the mood of the team and helping other people with their challenges. This requires an ability to detach yourself from your feelings and emotions, remain calm and see the bigger picture.
  10. Respecting other people’s perspectives: When you are all working towards a common goal, there will be many, many different opinions. The ability to recognise everyone’s perspective and acknowledge their thought process will help you collaborate more effectively. Collaborative Assistants are open-minded and are willing to listen to other people so that a consensus can be achieved.

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