Setting objectives for Assistants – best practice guidance
Setting goals and objectives throughout the year is crucial for an Assistant’s career and personal development.
Working towards something and seeing the value you have added to your organisation should increase your confidence and give you a reason to expect and ask for salary increases and bonuses yearly. How should you set goals for your Executive or Personal Assistant career that you can stick with?
The first point that is worth making is that there is a difference between goals and objectives. Often we use the same language to describe how we want the year ahead to play out, but there is a difference between goals and objectives:
A goal is a clear, single-minded statement of an outcome – an ambition – to be reached within a specific timeframe. For instance, “We will redesign the company’s website, so it’s more user-friendly, by the end of next quarter.”
An objective is an action you’ll need to take to achieve that goal.
To redesign a website, you may need to redistribute some marketing spend towards your digital capabilities, find the right web designer, or do some User Experience research to truly define what “more user-friendly” means in that context.
Both goals and objectives are essential for Assistants to consider when planning their career development and the year ahead.
Goals will help Assistants succeed in the role, and objectives are the stepping stones to help you achieve your goals and stick to them in the long term.
Now that we have defined the difference between goals and objectives, let’s concentrate on setting goals that Assistants can progress throughout the year.
Here are four strategies Assistants can implement to help with goal-setting:
1. Find out the why behind your goals – what is the context?
When working with your Executive on your goals for next year, ensure you completely understand why they are essential to you, your Executive and the broader organisation.
What is the context?
How do your goals, and achieving them, make your Executive more successful and add value to the bottom line?
If the goals are personal to your growth, understanding the why and articulating your reasons behind the goals you set will make it much easier to achieve.
So often, Assistants have work that we feel we should be doing. So pick goals that motivate you and play to your values.
2. Break your goals down into action points and objectives.
Big life goals can seem impossible when viewed as a whole, so you have to break your goals down into action points that you can tick off as the year pans out. It is unbelievably rewarding to see what you have achieved to date.
Reward yourself when you tick off one of the tasks that take you further to your goal because it will motivate you to complete the next task and the next task until you achieve your final aim.
When listing the tasks that make up your goals, write them down and set deadlines for a place to look and a schedule to follow.
3. Get some accountability.
When you set goals that you want to achieve, you need to hold yourself accountable.
This is easier in a business setting because you have an Executive to report to who wants to know how you achieve your goals.
Your salary increase and bonuses depend on achieving your goals, so it is easier in one sense.
But, if you have personal career goals you want to achieve, for example, increasing your confidence, asking for a pay rise, attending a conference or going for a promotion, these goals are harder to accomplish. You will need to take some accountability.
The good news is you can outsource accountability!
Ask a colleague, friend or family member to check in on your progress, give you pep talks and push you when you are not feeling motivated. Get an accountability buddy!
4. Plan out time for your goals.
Assistants are always so busy helping others achieve their goals that we often forget to plan our time!
For Assistants, this is important.
You’ve got to try and carve out some time in your schedule to dedicate to your career and personal development.
If you have a demanding schedule, this can be tricky, and it comes down to communication and setting expectations.
Communicate your goals with your Executive, state how important they are to you and how you want to achieve them and let your Executive be part of the process.
They should support you if they know that you want to grow in the role.
Aligning your objectives with your Executive’s objectives
We are often asked, ‘what should I write for my Executive Assistant objectives?’ We always say the first place to start is to look at your Executive’s objectives.
For Executive and Personal Assistants, you must know your Executive’s goals and objectives. There are several reasons this is important: here are just a few:
Understanding what motivates your Executive is a crucial aspect of the Assistant role. If you know what drives them to succeed, you can support them in achieving their goals.
Your objectives should be aligned with their objectives. So example, if they have a strategic goal, something like ‘increase awareness of brand X, you should have a practical objective, something like ‘organise a launch party for brand x.’
If you know the areas your manager will focus on for the rest of this year, you can prioritise your workload so that tasks relating to these areas are completed first. Your manager will thank you for this one.
You can also prioritise meetings, tasks and emails relating to these critical areas. Again if you know what is essential to your Executive, you can use this information to add value to your role.
How to ensure Assistants meet their objectives.
Focusing on your Assistant career is one of the most important things you can do, and let’s face it, if you don’t take control of planning your Assistant career, then no one will!
In these great sessions, we focus on the role of a growth plan to map out your Executive Assistant or Personal Assistant career plan.
We heard from Hallie Warner, Chief of Staff at Adam Hergenrother Companies, a Chief of Staff who has progressed from EA to become a leading business strategist.