Someone once asked me why I wanted to be an Executive Assistant. I told them it was because I got to oversee the entire organisation, without actually being responsible for any of it. I benefit from all the business know-how from my boss and his team, but I get to sleep easy at night!
In your role as a senior administrator, whether you work for the boss or one of the other directors, you are an integral part of the management team – a vital cog that keeps the wheels of the business turning. Which means you’re interacting with the Executives that run the business on a daily basis, whether in person, via telephone, Skype or emails.
I’ve dealt with some fantastic, some inspirational and some downright difficult characters in my time. It can sometimes be a little intimidating working with some of these guys. But having a good working relationship with the Executive management team is critical in this job. As a C Suite Assistant, or in fact in any professional working environment, it’s important to hold your own when communicating with them, whilst always conducting yourself professionally. Your communication style leaves a lasting impression.
Here are my top tips on holding your own with the Executive team:
- Don’t be intimidated by anyone. Remember they are just people, with homes, families and bills to pay just like you. Take the time to get to know each member. Some are chatters, some aren’t. What is their general demeanour? No doubt you’ll be able to relate to them on some level. But limit the chit-chat to a couple of minutes. We’ve all got work to do – especially you!
- Keep it professional. Whilst it’s ok to share a laugh and a joke with the Executive team, try not to be “over-familiar”. If you don’t know them very well, just be polite, friendly and greet them with a smile. Rude jokes might be acceptable in some environments, but most directors don’t consider this the type of behaviour they expect from a Board level assistant. It won’t get you the top jobs. You’re creating a lasting impression – make sure it’s a good one.
- Confidentiality is one of the single most important aspects of your relationship with your boss. They have to know they can trust you with anything. However tempting the gossip, just don’t do it. You’ll get a reputation as someone who can’t keep their trap shut. Not to mention the fact that some of the information you’re privy to is legally privileged.
- Show willing. We all have that one member of the Executive team that talks down to us, generally whilst asking for a round of drinks for their latest meeting, usually when you’re in the middle of something. It’s a pain… but just do it. They are members of the Executive team and your role is to make their life that little bit easier and a caffeine fix or a quick trip to the sandwich shop might just make their day and earn you extra brownie points.
- Prioritise your own boss. What if you’re so damn helpful that a director tries to accost you as his own personal PA?! This has happened to me. Simple, your boss’s work takes priority – 100%. Explain to them that you will come back to them if/when you can, or will ask another member of the team to help. If it becomes an issue, talk to your boss. You’re not the office workhorse.
- Finally, keep calm! Even when you’re under extreme pressure, try to maintain a calm exterior. You don’t want your boss or any member of the team thinking that you’re easily rattled and can’t cope. Keeping calm under pressure is a key element to this job.