How To Leverage Executive Assistants

To Make Your Work Day More Efficient and Profitable

On a very basic level, an executive assistant has to do one thing: save the CEO, or their boss, time. But at Well-Oiled Operations™ , we believe the key to having a productive Executive assistant is finding a person who allows the
business to run without their daily input.

An excellent Executive Assistant does more than just save time, they help proliferate the culture the CEO desires, serve as a filter, operate as a translator, and set the tone for the day.

How To Leverage Executive Assistants To Make Your Work Day More Efficient and Profitable

On a very basic level, an executive assistant has to do one thing: save the CEO, or their boss, time.

At Well-Oiled Operations™ , however, we believe the key to having a productive executive assistant is for the CEO or manager to find a person who allows the business to run without their daily input.

As such, an excellent executive assistant does more than just save time. The right executive assistant will help proliferate the culture the CEO desires, serve as a filter for the CEO’s time, operate as the CEO’s translation expert, and, at the very least, set the exacting tone for the day.

If You Want A Profitable And Productive Company, It Is Imperative You Find An Executive Assistant

A seasoned executive assistant’s talents will largely benefit your entire company when they are given the proper authority.

In the appropriate environment, the EA will ensure meetings begin on time with the appropriate material delivered well in advance. What’s more, their purview should also include travel schedules that way the CEO’s schedule is in natural sync with the rest of the company thus enabling efficient remote decision making.

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The modern corporate structure and why it needs refining

Generally speaking, work should be delegated to the lowest-cost employee who can do it well. This was one of the most foundational pillars upong which our corporate culture was founded.

Many companies have continued to embrace this workflow by outsourcing work to vendors or to operations abroad. It makes sense, especially if the overseas help operates on the opposite schedule of the homebase timezone – thus allowing the company to operate 24 hours per day. Though the instinct may have been right to offload much of the daily work to other shores and the cost slashing benefits it provides, some companies may have taken the methodology one step too far.

Due to the cost cuts, and the rollbacks many companies have enacted as a result of trimming payroll at home, many CEOs are now forcing their top talent at home to misuse their time.

In other words, there’s too much administrative work and daily tasks to be completed, and too few assistants to whom it can all be assigned. Instead managers and exectuive staff, who would normally never be caught within this windstorm of daily grind task work, are now left with no choice doing the job of someone who could do it just as effectively while being paid a fraction of the cost.

Ultimately, Executive Assistants lower operating cost, and eventually boost the operating income of the company because they help place all the right talent in the appropriate places.

The Case For Executive Assistants Being Given To Your Middle Management Team

Just as is the case with the CEO, middle management can be burdened with the daily tasks of the company agenda. Rather than leading a team of people who are supposed to fulfill deliverables and or fulfilling projects based on deadlines, they are fulfilling the minutiae of the project.

This occurence is especially true as mid-sized to larger companies are starting to cut back on staff while expecting more production out their people who simply don’t have enough hours in the week to fulfill all of the tasks.

Naturally, this expectation of more work with less resources can lead to more turnover with each passing day. More turnover can lead to a less than optimal work environment, which can then lead to more costs – in addition to less efficiency – because the company has to hire new people and begin the training process all over again.

Another added benefit from experienced assistant is that he or she can be particularly helpful if their manager is a new hire.

The assistant become can become a crucial on-boarding resource by helping the manager read and understand the organizational culture, guide them through the different personalities, and also serve as a sounding board during the process.

We believe that knowledgeable assistants are more than a productivity asset. Taking it one step further, EAs can use their experience to teach new executives how people are expected to operate within the organization and that is an invaluable resource of culture and baked-in culture assets.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Executive Assistant

A manager or CEO has one specific goal to overcome when they assign out responsibilities to an executive assistant:

Their willingness to delegate pieces of his or her workload to the assistant.

This can be especially difficult for those CEOs who brought their company up from nothing because they are so conditioned to do everything themselves. While this may have worked in the beginning, a fast growing company is going to require speedy decisions to keep up with it’s growth.

When an exectutive delegates properly, they can finally get out of their own way and stop being the bottleneck which could potentially lead to stagnation at the highest, and lowest, level of the company.

Delegating With A Purpose

The most effective executives and managers give much thought about their workload and what tasks can be taken on by their assistant. To that end, here are some of the many new tasks in which EAs find themselves taking a part: 

  • Adopting the CEO’s voice and sorting/drafting replies to emails which seem to come now more quickly than ever.
  • Many assistants now listen in on executive phone calls so as to organize and follow up on important action items. 
  • The manage information flow from the lower tier exuctives or managers, deal with basic financial management to improve net income, organize efficient income statements, attend meetings as a personal representative of their boss, and schedule/take meetings for which the CEO simply does not have the time to engage.

This mutually beneficial relationship between executive and executive assistant is most effective when executives help empower their assistants by making it clear to the organization that the assistant has real authority. If they are treated as the personal stand in for the executive, the executive assistant can help keep meetings in line, on task, and make sure all the requisite actions items are carried through. 

As we discused earlier, not every executive is well-suited for this type of delegating.  In addition to thoe CEOs who brought their company up from nothing,  even younger managers in particular are experiencing trouble letting go of control. 

Why?

Younger managers have grown up in the current culture we described earlier – where much of the work has been offloaded and they were forced to do more with less resources.  Given the current climate of technology and the need for self-suffciency to operate within the framework of that technological paradigm, it is hard not to see why younger managers have been condition to do it all themselves.

What’s more is that some of these managers have become so accustomed to doing their own administrative tasks that they lack the skills to communicate well with assistants.  The goal for a manager like this should be to categorize assistants as deliberate assets whose job is to literally navigate their relationship and bring forth to get the highest possible return in the smallest amount of time.

 

How To Find The Right Assistant For Your Needs And Your Culture

Hiring the right assistant can be a challenge. Yes, finding a hard working person is never easy, but much of the challenge rests within the CEOs awareness of their personal needs. It is hard to understand what one may not be best at, or what functions they loathe doing each day.  To that end, the CEO needs to be honest with a self assessment of their skills and decide what the  specific job description will be.

To further complicate matters, not only does the CEO have to appreciate their areas of opportunity, but they must also share a personal chemistry with the EA when it comes to  the one-on-one dynamic – irrespetive of the EA’s skills or experience.

An good assistant matches chemistry with skills. An expert assistant, however, understands the unspoken needs and characteristics of the people with whom they work.  They know what the CEO is thinking before anyone else days because they pay close attention to shifts in an executive’s behavior and temperament.  The EA understands the subtle movements, ticks, and topics which are triggering for the CEO, and they shift the timing and tenor of conversations before the meeting becomes less efficient.  

 This kind of matchis very hard to come by but it breads a level of trust and togetherness which benefits the company in countless facets of the day. This is probably the reason why so many good assistants follow an executive to each new job – because they both rely on the communication skills they have acquired together.

The Common Failings You Can Notice And Avoid When Hiring An Executive Assistant

Finding a great EA is sometimes like spotting a unicorn. The great ones know what’s coming, when it’s coming, and how/if to fix it should the opportunity arise. How can one tell, though, if the relationship between executive and executive assisstant is simply not working? Here are some symptoms:

Misreading the corporate culture and promoting an agenda that is opposed to the CEOs messaging whether in big ways or small tasks.

An inability to efficiently communicate with other assistants – whether in their corporate structure or outside of the company.

Neglecting to ask enough questions about tasks so that they can do the exact job the executive needs.

Asking too many questions which can be answered in a largely self-evident manner – thereby wasting the executive’s time.

Absorbing too much of a workload, and relying on external parties to problem solve without prior knowledge from the CEO or their prior authorization.

Ironically enough, many managers contribute to these deteriorating relationships by not being open in their communications or not being clear about expectations for executive assistants work. They expect to assistant to know what they are thinking, and do not take the the time to correct minor issues. Which, again, tracks back to the executive being brutally honesst in their self assesment of skills and areas of opportunity.

Executive Assistants Are Indispensable To A CEO And The Well-Oiled Operations™ Of Their Company

By trade, executive assistants are vital cogs in the coporate machine which help place everyone in the correct spaces and allow them to do the specific job for which they were all hired.

While many modern companies have lost sight of the specific skills exectuive assistants provide to their time and workforce, EA’s are nevertheless:

troubleshooters, translators, help desk attendants, diplomats, travel consultants, and keepers of all different kinds of travel arrangements.

They are the net profit overlords, core business defenders, cash flow monitors, amateur psychologists, and ambassadors to the inside business and outside world.

Executive assistants and administrative assistants are far more than just clerical staff. Those relationships are business partnerships and long term investments.

They are needed because ultimately the companies reap the benefits.