When Sunday night arrived, the brain started to shift from laundry, meal plan and fitness schedule to Joe, Mary and Bob–the town hall for Joe, international journey for Mary and Bob’s board presentation. It is clear there’s no shut off or power button for the brain so the Monday morning tasks that await are already stirring through the to do list.
Morning breaks in after sleepless hours because after a quick email glance Sunday night, the eyes flexed wide-open to the TripIt notification–“flight canceled”. Trying to diffuse the brain from processing the new found information is like trying to relax on a turbulent flight.
A tall black coffee and morning podcast channeled to the “I can do this” pep talk, gets Sally through the front door and off the elevator to her desk–ultimately diving into the day that awaits. Sally doesn’t have time to manage the start of Joe’s town hall and rebook Mary’s travel plan at the same time so she calls in the troops–the vast group of enabled peers to come to her aid. While Jill gets Joe saddled up with his town hall presentation and A/V in-check, Sally can focus on getting Mary to her conference in London.
The never ending acts of kindness that the executive assistant [EA] performs on any given day are countless and often times referred to across the organization as magic. The top notch EA comes with an arsenal of skills to tap into depending on the call to action–the commitment to learning and acquiring new skills is far from magic. It is determination and hard work!
The EA role has evolved over the years along with the business as technology leaps us forward into the future of work. According to research, EAs are assigned not only to two but three to four executives. This prompts the question of the importance of quality vs. quantity? The seasoned EA is more than capable to support multiple executives but limits the ability to dive deeper into the bigger world of the executive–undervaluing the true worth.
For instance, managing multiple calendars is limited to focussing on attendees and logistics. Time does not allow for the opportunity to peel back the request to determine the validity or an alternate course of action. When you look at the number of hours executives are spending in meetings with a back-to-back calendar, this begs the question, can this change? Yes!
Most meetings are scheduled without a purpose–giving little to the prep for the discussion to meet the end result of the intent. But how do we change? Tap into the EAs ability and recognize that the completion of calls to action are the result of skillset–not a sprinkle of fairy dust that makes it all happen. The EA can help to improve the daily schedule by allocating time to the right meetings and length of time spent in each.
When organizations understand the role an EA can play in making a difference in an executive’s overall schedule and building a partnership, then the emphasis shifts from quantity to quality. Thus, bridging the gap in acknowledging the EAs ability to take decisive action is hard work, not magic.