Partnership and mutual respect
In the podcast, Ethan emphasised the importance of working for a principal who appreciates your hard work and acknowledges your contribution when navigating the all-encompassing nature of the Assistant role. A successful EA-Executive relationship should be built on mutual respect and trust. Executives who recognise the value of their Assistants and give them the freedom to execute their tasks effectively create a more productive and positive work environment. Partnerships based on respect and trust also garner admiration from colleagues and outsiders, setting a positive example within the organisation.
It’s essential to stand up for yourself and advocate for the respect and recognition you deserve as an Assistant. While it may take time and effort, asserting your value can help reshape the dynamics and foster a more respectful working relationship.
- Advocate for yourself: Speak up for yourself and assert your value as an assistant to the organisation. Highlight your skills, accomplishments, and your positive impact on productivity and efficiency. Educate your Executive about the importance of a supportive and respectful Assistant-Executive relationship.
- Seek support from colleagues: Reach out to other Assistants or colleagues within the organisation who may have faced similar challenges. Share experiences, seek advice, and learn from their strategies for dealing with executives who may not respect the assistant role. Collaborating with others can provide emotional support and practical solutions.
- Document and communicate: Record your tasks, accomplishments, and any instances where your role is undervalued or disrespected. Maintain a log of specific incidents or requests that are unreasonable or inappropriate. If necessary, communicate these concerns to a higher-level supervisor, HR department, or trusted mentor. Present your concerns professionally and factually to seek resolution or intervention.
Transitioning from toxic environments
During the interview, Ethan and Nicky acknowledged the prevalence of toxic behaviours in specific workplaces, where Assistants may face verbal or mental abuse. If you find yourself in that situation, it is always important to recognise your worth and know that you have the power to leave such environments. Through the #MeToo movement and increased awareness of how you should be treated in the workplace, Assistants have more avenues to speak out against abusive behaviour. The changing times are gradually shifting the dynamics and demanding better treatment for all professionals, including EAs.
Challenging yet rewarding Executives
In the interview, Ethan shared his experience working for a demanding Executive who was initially challenging but eventually became one of the best he had worked with. While it is essential to recognise and leave toxic situations, working for intelligent and fast-paced Executives can provide valuable growth opportunities. Such Executives can push Assistants to improve their skills, adapt quickly, and achieve a higher level of performance.
- Expectations and goals: Clarify their expectations and goals early on. Understand what they expect from you regarding tasks, deadlines, and deliverables. Align your efforts accordingly and seek clarification to avoid misunderstandings or mismatched expectations.
- Decision-making process: Observe how your Executive makes decisions. Are they decisive or indecisive? Do they seek input from others or prefer to make decisions independently? Understanding their decision-making process can help you anticipate their needs and provide the necessary support.
- Flexibility and adaptability: Challenging executives may have to change priorities or make sudden requests. Be prepared to adapt quickly to shifting demands and demonstrate flexibility in your approach. Develop resilience and the ability to handle unexpected situations with grace and efficiency.
Managing the Executive Assistant role requires much tenacity, flexibility and organisation. The challenges this role presents can be navigated with increased clarity and confidence if one takes the time to understand their capabilities and the individual needs of their Executive.
Moreover, accessing platforms such as The EA Campus gives broader perspectives on how an Assistant role should develop and be managed. At The EA Campus, we are adaptive to our members’ needs and offer additional resources such as podcasts which dive deep into crucial management skills, enabling members to personalise their approach further. So, take that step towards growth today by joining The EA Campus for exclusive access to these weekly podcasts filled with insight into managing all aspects of your Executives’ demands.