Now is a perfect time to write down everything you do within your job description and outside of it. Include all of the soft and hard skills utilised in your organisation and those that you have but are not used to the extent that you would like.
This is for two reasons. Having a document like that will give you confidence, what you can offer, and clarity in where you can add value.
Times have changed and will continue to change, so some of the tasks and skills you had before Covid may not be as important as other skills you have.
I have some questions that I want you to answer that will help with this exercise:
- What are the new priorities for your organisation?
- For your Executive and yourself?
It is important to remember that your scope might have changed because of your current living situation. For example, my scope has changed enormously since Covid because my children are at home with me. What I can achieve and what has to be prioritised are entirely different now. I have to acknowledge that and change how I run Practically Perfect PA. It will be the same for everyone, so this exercise is essential for you, your Executive, and your organisation.
- What tasks have been dropped, and what will replace them?
- Where can you re-skill?
My example here is travelling planning. For many Assistants, this was a massive part of the role. Although travel is making a comeback, it certainly won’t be as much as pre-Covid, so Assistants who used to organise a lot of travel will have the capacity for other tasks. What will replace travel, for example, conference calling and online events – so where can you upskill here?
When your Executive travels again, how can you help them feel safe and prepared? Using this time to prepare as much as you can for the new normal will add value.
We’ve talked about re-skilling in terms of video technology, but I’m sure you can find many other areas that will benefit from your up-skilling.
Lastly, but importantly
- What soft skills are essential in your role?
- How do you display them in your day-to-day work?
Specific soft skills will help the workforce during this time, and luckily Assistants have these skills in abundance. Here are a few:
- Leadership skills
- Relationship building
- Creativity and problem-solving.
- Emotional intelligence
- Curiosity and a willingness to learn
- And lastly, calm under pressure.
Think about these skills and how you can use them in your workplace, how they will make you more visible and where you can be seen to add value.
I want to touch on something that Assistants spend a lot of time doing, scheduling and diary management. For many of you, this is the cornerstone of your role. They are planning meetings and managing your Executive’s day and where they place their focus and energy.
This task also helps many of you stay in the loop. You schedule the meetings, but you also have access to all of the supporting documents. You understand why these meetings are taking place, their relevance and where they sit in the broader picture.
Managing meetings that take place online is a new ball game with new rules. But firstly, it is worth saying that your involvement is more critical than ever. And here is why.
- High standards of output are returning.
I think at the start of the pandemic. Understandably, work was not a priority for many of us as we tried to understand this new reality. This grace period is still in place for many of us because there are so many factors in play, kids aren’t back at school, the virus hasn’t disappeared, and many people are still sick and suffering the loss of loved ones. It is a devastating time. But, we also know those running businesses are under a lot of pressure to ensure the organisation survives. Whatever is coming next. High output standards are returning, and there will be a lot of pressure on your Executive’s time.
Managing their schedule remotely will be incredibly important; you must work together to get it right.
- No one wants more meetings, but…
It is essential to over-communicate while working remotely. It is vital to Schedule regular touchpoints with your Executive and your team, and other departments. I will talk about this in more detail, but you have to over-communicate and work collaboratively with those in your organisation.
- Give your Executive more time.
This could be attending meetings in their place or ensuring that everyone joining the meeting is extra prepared so that the meeting is effective. Where can you reduce the pressure on their schedules? Where are their pain points during the day, and what can you do to alleviate that?
- Getting personal with their schedule.
Now that we are all working from home, we have other priorities that we did not have at the office. Managing your Executive’s time now must include understanding their personal lives and pressures. They might be working with partners, parents and children in the house. They will undoubtedly have more personal pressures that they didn’t have in the office, so again, how can you arrange their schedule to ensure they have enough balance in their life to show up in the different areas they need to?
- Fragmented vs focused time.
If you thought it was terrible pre-Covid, the time spent in meetings has increased dramatically since Covid-19. This means that the time between meetings is when most people get their work done. As we know, using the time in between meetings is bad news. Using this fragmented time, as it is called, makes it hard to get anything done. It is not productive.
So again, it would be best if you worked with your Executive to find time in their schedule in which they can focus. That could be using time-blocking techniques or understanding where their energy is during the day and planning accordingly (for example, if they are a morning person, can they get up before the rest of the house so they have a quiet hour or two to spend on strategy and focused reading?)
However you set it up, they need to focus when not in meetings, and it shouldn’t be between another meeting.
And this brings me to my last point.
Along with time management, Assistants must equally manage their Executive energy.
Check-in with them now that they have been working remotely for a few months ask when they have the most energy, and plan their time and activities around that energy.
Here are two great articles to get you started on energy management:
Manage your energy, not your time
Energy Management – An Introduction