We all know that communication with your Executive is key to a successful working relationship and I’ve found over the years, the more access an Assistant has to their Executive the more they are seen as a critical asset within the organisation.
But, when you work with a busy Executive, it can be challenging to get time with them. I know how difficult it can be, especially if they travel frequently or work remotely.
However – I want to repeat this. If you have access to your Executive, if they let you into their inner circle, you will be a better Assistant, and in turn, they will be a better Executive and Leader.
It is that simple.
Communication is key and meeting and talking regularly is completely necessary for the relationship to work. How do you do this?
Like anything you, along with your Executive, have first to decide that this is how you are going to work together and second you have to make it a habit. You have to organise your Executive’s schedule so that you are meeting and talking often and you have to stick to the schedule.
Once you start to follow the plan, you will notice that you both (but more importantly, your Executive) rely on this regular communication. In this post, I want to share how exactly you should plan out the meetings you have with your Executive, including the frequency and what you should cover.
Daily catch up
You should meet or speak for, at the very least, 15 minutes per day. Most Assistants will spend more time with their Executive, so this is the bare minimum amount of time.
I worked with an incredibly busy Executive who packed her day full with meetings and for us, 15 minutes at the beginning of the day worked well with a 15-minute catch up at the end of the day. Sometimes the 15 minutes was a walking/talking conversation, but it gave me enough time to ask those few vital questions and for my Executive to feel my presence during the day.
With Executive’s with a smaller workload, half an hour at their desk every day worked well.
For a lot of Executive’s these meetings will feel like breathing space, they will be able to re-focus on what they want to achieve and delegate work that will help them achieve it – and that feels good!
During your daily catch-ups, you should cover the necessary information that you both need to move your day forward.
If your Executive is travelling, you should send a ‘touch-base’ email that covers everything you would typically cover in your catch up meeting.
A weekly catch up meetings
You need a slightly longer weekly catch-up with your Executive so that you can plan the schedule, deal with the paperwork and look at where you are with goals and objectives along with ongoing projects and the to-do list.
If your Executive is in the office, Friday afternoon works well. The office tends to be a little bit quieter, you can plan the week, and most people are a bit more relaxed on a Friday afternoon, which means you can enjoy the half an hour together.
During these weekly catch-up meetings, this is the time for Assistants where we find out the why behind the what. Why are we doing these tasks? What is the bigger picture here? These meetings keep us motivated as much as we can move the work along for our Executive.
Monthly goal and objective planning
The monthly goal and objective planning will help you plan out your Executive’s calendar for the month, along with the tasks that you both need to focus on.
These meetings are so helpful because they give you the understanding you need to make decisions on behalf of your Executive.
When colleagues want your Executive’s time or ask you to do things that do quite fit into the strategy, these meetings and having the knowledge you gain from these meetings will give you the confidence to say no (or not now) to specific requests. What should you cover in these meetings?
Treat them as you would any project planning meeting. Follow an agenda, for example:
- What are the objectives for this month?
- Update on where we are with goals/objectives
- What are the roadblocks and risks?
- What are the deadlines and milestones
Quarterly strategic reviews
If you want to be seen as a strategic business partner, you have to know what the strategy is! Attend meetings with your Executive that drives the strategy forward so that you don’t have to hear through the grapevine what is going on and schedule quarterly strategic reviews with your Executive to make sure that their time is being spent on the right things.
Again in these meetings, you should have the schedule open, you should be discussing goals and objectives for the quarter but also spend this time getting to grips with what is going on in your Executive’s world. If your Executive is short on time, then it might be worth integrating your quarterly strategic review with that of your team.
This works well because you get an overview of everyone’s objectives for the quarter going forward, and you can plan how you will support your Executive and their direct report’s expectations. The more you know, the better you will operate in your role.
As a quick aside, you might be thinking to yourself there is no way that you will get this much time with your Executive, and I hear you.
But, you have to plan these meetings in, and if you are running the schedule, you have to make your Executive stick to it – like a habit.
Once they understand the value that comes with regular communication with you, then your job becomes more manageable, and they are more successful because of it.
Twice yearly performance reviews
And of course, you should have twice-yearly performance reviews so that you know how you are performing in your role.
Many Executive’s mistake the daily and weekly catch up meeting as a time for the Assistant to talk about their role.
These meetings are business-critical. Use your performance review time to discuss your performance and your remuneration.
Regular meetings with your Executive’s direct reports
Last but not least you should schedule regular meetings (over a coffee or something equally informal) with your Executive’s direct reports so that you get a sense of where the business is going from different points of view.
If your Executive works well with their direct reports, likes and trusts their team, then you should make sure that you have as much access to them as you can.
These people are making the business happen, and you need to know their goals and objectives too.