Taking ownership of your work as an Assistant

For high-performing Assistant and Executive partnerships, there is a high value placed on ownership, accountability and trust. All three areas are essential to a strategic partnership. In this blog post, we will focus on taking ownership of your work as an Assistant.

What does it mean to take ownership of your work?

Taking ownership of your work as an Assistant is about taking responsibility for your work, your decisions and the actions you take. It is about owning the quality of your output, the value you add and the ideas you bring forward.

When an Assistant takes ownership of their work, they can drive the partnership with their Executive forward and ultimately the success of the organisation they work for. Here are a few suggestions for taking ownership of your work as an Assistant.

Take ownership of your entire workload

This is the first step to taking ownership as an Assistant. Have a look at all of the day to day tasks that are assigned to you. I bet there are loads. These are the tasks that you should have complete control over. For every task you have full control over, think to yourself: How can I make every task a complete success? What can I do to ensure the process attached to each task runs smoothly and is working well? Please create a list of these tasks and spend some time making them more efficient. You own these tasks, and you should take responsibility for their success.

It is also worth taking the time to ensure that you know what success looks like with each of your tasks. Are the expectations from your Executive clearly defined? Suppose you are unsure what is expected of you and what the result should look like. In that case, it is your responsibility to have a conversation with your Executive to define their expectations and what success looks like.

Focus on the results

When you are more accountable for your actions, it will lead to you being much more results-focused, making you more valuable to your organisation. With everything you do, think to yourself what the goals are here, what my objectives are, what I want to achieve, and what are the valuable outcomes. This level of critical thinking is beneficial to your business because you will constantly be looking for a return on investment in everything you do. If you find you spend ages on a task that is not business critical or adds value, because you are accountable for that task, you can adjust the process and make it more effective.

Make things better

I know Assistants have a broad understanding of what is happening in their organisations and will have lots of brilliant ideas that can help make things better. But, if they don’t share their ideas or act on them, they are not taking ownership of the value they can bring. It can be hard to share your thoughts. I get it! But if Assistants want to take ownership of their work, they need to feel confident in what they can bring to the table and the skills they have developed over their careers.

Taking ownership of your work as an Assistant doesn’t just mean that you control the good stuff. It also means you are honest when things aren’t quite working. If you decide to take more ownership of your work, you’ll have to put your hand up when you might fall behind with deadlines or struggle with something. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you are working on projects that push and challenge you, there will be times you need to seek advice from your Executive (just like any other member of staff).

Can you take more ownership of your work?

In this Grindstone article How to build a culture of ownership and accountability, Colin Strachan shares a list of questions that you can consider when taking ownership of your work as an Assistant. They are:

  • Do I spend more time working or complaining?
  • Do I more often push forward or procrastinate?
  • Am I envious of others’ achievements or keen to learn from them?
  • Do I believe I deserve success, or am I excited to earn my way?
  • Do I tend to point fingers or problem-solve?
  • When things don’t go my way, do I play the victim or become a victor?
  • Which matters most, others’ opinions of me or my opinion of myself?
  • Do I ever offer constructive ideas?