The EA competencies you will need to thrive in the role

Let’s look at the foundation of what we do, our skills and the EA competencies you will need to thrive in the role.

Organisation and Time Management

Being organised and having good time management are competencies that will never leave the Assistant profession. They are at the heart of what makes a fantastic Assistant. We help our Executive stay organised and save them time.

Much fantastic technology can help you manage time and productivity and coordinate everything. Still, it would be best if you were well-organised and had that mindset.

Keeping someone else organised is difficult, so knowing where everything is, keeping a close eye on project deadlines, where all the correct paperwork and files are stored, knowing when meetings are due to finish and the next one start, and scheduling your Executive’s day correctly.

Communication

Again, communicating effectively is still a critical competency for Assistants (and will become even more important as AI increases). Assistants must cut through the noise, get to the heart of the matter, and communicate what is required in any situation.

Assistants, as ever, will work with a range of different personality types, seniority, diversity and backgrounds and, as such, need to adapt their communication style to relay their messages effectively and efficiently.

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Attention to Detail

Some competencies are made for life, and attention to detail is another one that just isn’t going to go away. Yes, there are many valuable tools out there to help will help spell and grammar check documents, but it doesn’t need there.

Assistants also have to make their Executive look good, and they do this well because they are aware of the small details that make a difference. That could be finishing off the client presentation so that it looks fantastic, scheduling time for your Executive to read that report they have been putting off or something simple like grabbing a coffee for a busy team member.

Small details matter and will continue to be where Assistants can add value. It is one of the EA competencies you will need to thrive in the role.

Discretion

This one is never going away. Keeping your Executive’s confidence is vital for many reasons, not least because you need to trust each other explicitly for the partnership to work.

In today’s age, Assistants must also be aware of cybersecurity and ensure that everything they have access to is handled sensitively.

Diplomacy

I believe diplomacy is the art of dealing with people sensitively and tactfully. It is the ability to communicate with people using an approach that considers their feelings and potential reaction to the situation. This skill allows assistants to find common ground with every person at every business level.

For these reasons, it is so helpful if Assistants can be diplomatic.

Flexibility

We look at our packed to-do list and must decide which tasks to tackle first when all the work is a priority with imminent deadlines.

We also have our colleagues interrupting us with urgent questions and multiple bosses wanting attention. Of course, we also want to please and be helpful; no wonder an assistant’s role can be overwhelming!

Due to our job’s nature, we must remain flexible while handling multiple priorities.

Interpersonal skills

With more and more office workers using technology to communicate and get stuff done, it will be necessary for some people in the office to build relationships, connect and interact with all the employees.

Assistants can make a difference and add value in this area. With interpersonal skills, Assistants can connect with anyone, disseminate information and work within different company cultures. This will be seen as a real value-add in a business highly reliant on technology and remote working.

Intuitive

Intuition is such a fantastic competency to have in business, no matter what role you work in. Still, for Assistants, it is that skill that takes you from an excellent Assistant to a valuable business asset.

Why? Because it helps you keep one step ahead of your Executive and their needs, it enables you to anticipate what might be coming up in the organisation and how to deal with any issues. This isn’t about reading minds (although that would be super helpful!). It is more about having a solid understanding of the business, building your knowledge of the industry you work in, how your business and Executive fit into that industry, and, of course, knowing your Executive’s style and priorities.

Intuition is innate in a great Assistant but can also be learned.

Creativity

The opportunity to be creative and innovative at work isn’t necessarily obvious, mainly if you work in a traditional corporate environment. But, creativity has been identified as a critical skill for employees by 2020, and we will need to be more innovative with our problem-solving and task completion.

Creativity isn’t just about creating an excellent presentation, for example, or producing a fancy logo. It is also about that dreaded phrase ‘thinking outside the box’ and doing things differently from how they have been done.

Self-Motivated

Last but not least is being self-motivated.

To survive in this industry, assistants must find work that makes them stand out and make others see them as a real business asset.

Aside from being confident and shouting that you are brilliant (which you should all be doing, but I get that it can be tiresome having to big yourself up to other people regularly), you should be putting yourself forward for projects, challenging tasks, stuff that will get you seen and heard. This year is about proving to those who doubt you are vital to your organisation and offer so much value.

We have seen that the power of being an Assistant lies in the combination of skills and competencies necessary for the job. Without both, you will be hard-pressed to fully maximise your capabilities and contribute to the success of your organisation. You can make a difference with a solid foundation built from strong abilities and sharpened competencies.

Take steps today to invest in yourself by enrolling on the Assistant Mindset Online Course. You’ll learn how to hold up these standards and apply them in your current role or prepare for opportunities that may arise down the line.