As the maxim says, “Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.”
Work ‘for’ or ‘with’ someone? That is the question
There are two main types of relationships that can be developed between an executive and an assistant. This is the subject of the presentation by Joan Burge, Founder and CEO of Office Dynamics International.
Firstly, she states that there is a team type of relationship. Here, the assistant accepts assignments and just gets the job done.
In a strategic partnership, the assistant asks questions while building a working picture in their mind to get a task done. With this information, the assistant anticipates the next step and eventually make decisions on the executive’s behalf.
It is not just being an executant. It is a matter of being proactive and managing the executive’s time. The assistant knows what is happening, why and is focused on the future. Not just dropping a date in a calendar, but also studying what is happening all the time.
Business coach Adam Hergenrother suggests five ways to create a strategic partnership with an executive assistant, namely:
- Give up control
- Bring them into your inner circle and do not keep them at the periphery
- Meet and communicate regularly (have some time for reviewing, planning, etc.).
- Set clear goals, expectations and wins, and
- Make building trust a priority.
Communication between executive and assistant is of paramount importance and it should not be viewed as a waste of time.
As commented by a viewer underneath Joan Burge’s video, it only works if the executive is willing to have a strategic partnership. The executive also has to welcome the assistant’s questions while she or he is building their own work overview and priorities.
Most of the time, a mix of both types of approach exists. Assistants will have to work out for themselves the best path to forge. This should always be done with open and easy communication.