Getting the most from your Executive Assistant (EA)

Originally featured on Harvard Business Review, the needle for an exceptional assistant has evolved from the AMC series “Mad Men secretary” type to being recognized as an instrumental role to all organizations and executives.  Having an effective assistant goes beyond scheduling travel and booking meetings, it’s so much more.  An exceptional admin completes tasks, of any size, with all details considered, challenges the ordinary to confirm the final is the very best, and has a high level of emotional IQ.


Those that shine in the EA role do so when they pair resourceful thinking with a ‘Get Stuff Done’ attitude.  They thrive under pressure and welcome a full to-do list each day.  They keep the finer details in the forefront and for even the simplest requests all aspects are considered.  Case in point:  When asked to make arrangements for an upcoming business trip they immediate look at the assignment as a whole – flight, car, hotel, meals, meetings, and so on. An exceptional admin considers whether a rental car is necessary or does Uber  make more sense; considering the location is a big factor (i.e. New York or Los Angeles).  Is booking a hotel near the meeting location more ideal or should their executive be near the airport?  During the arranging process there’s much dialogue that happens between the assistant and executive but an exceptional admin lays out a rough itinerary for the executive to review, offering all factors and proposing ideal scenarios.  When an EA interacts with their executive in this fashion, time is best utilized making workflow more effective.

Challenge the ordinary

It’s common for an exceptional admin to receive a special assignment that supports their executive and ultimately the organization.  The special assignment could range from preparing a presentation or organizing a special event.  Special projects offer fresh content to a role that can sometimes be redundant and in doing so, your increasing employee retention.   Continue reading “Getting the most from your Executive Assistant (EA)”

3 “tricks” every admin professional should consider implementing

Traditional networking, that being in-person, can be a very powerful activity, especially when it’s with people of the same profession. When I’m networking with other admins I make it a point to ask the same question, “What are your three favorite tricks?”. There’s never a wrong answer and they always vary.  It’s intoxicating to hear how admins are being creative in their role, and I always walk away inspired.  For me, I’m a big believer in great customer service. A big part of the admin role is customer service and while it’s not a checkout clerk or restaurant server position, it’s a role that serves a variety of situations, i.e. board meetings, conference calls, lunch meetings, and so on.

I share here three of my favorite tricks:


Chilled plates you say, what does that have to do with being a great admin? Well…for meetings that happen in the office and include hosting a lunch, there’s a high chance the meal choice is a salad. Serving the salad on a chilled plate can be viewed as a special touch that is both professional and classic leaving a lasting impression about the company and you.


Admins can excel at their job when they have a pulse on both directly and indirectly related business dealings. Being in the know doesn’t just prepare them for possible requests, it also helps them build professional relationships. Taking note, and responding appropriately to requests, likes, and actions of regular office guests, adds a special touch to the interaction. Being confident in your approach, engaging in small talk, and presenting a welcoming tone helps you learn more about the professional.

Requests – Does he/she regularly visit in the morning? If so, do they enjoy water or tea, espresso or coffee, black or with cream…learning their patterns allows the admin to excel at hospitality. Anticipating requests is a well-received personal touch.

Likes – When you engage in small talk, you learn about the person’s interests. Knowing them casually helps broaden your working relationship.  Does the individual enjoy working out, do they follow sports, are there any dietary restrictions/favorite foods? Learning traits helps you better support them when they are in your office.  Let’s say, considering it happens often, you need to order lunch last minute because a meeting is running over. Since you know more about them, you can order effectively with no help. The same goes for your boss. Knowing his/her preferences empowers you to do the task with no assistance; that makes you an exceptional admin. Continue reading “3 “tricks” every admin professional should consider implementing”

Typewriter no more, the evolution of the admin profession

It started in the late 30’s with the secretary, a woman who could be found typing diligently on her Hermes 3000 typewriter, while also routing phone calls to the appropriate person. She had a knack for shorthand and utilized it when necessary. She constructed beautifully formatted documents from her notes and took great pride in her work.  Her documents would have rolled edges, precise formatting, and correction fluid, i.e. white-out, was nowhere to be found. The typical secretary was posed in disposition, a great listener, and one that had strong knowledge of the office.

Fast-forward to today, the #administrative #profession has seen much growth and expansion. The profession still holds many classic behaviors, but the responsibility load has evolved from a short list of tasks to one that’s more diverse and multifaceted. Due to the expansion it became necessary for the profession to establish a collection of positions. One that’s often found on an org chart, of any size company, is the executive assistant (“EA”).  An EA can support a variety of responsibilities ranging from general business transactions to handling delegated tasks for their executive(s).  It’s important that the individual filling the role exhibit certain characteristics considering the relevance of the position. The person, whether male or female, should have intellectual attributes but also some unconventional qualities. Continue reading “Typewriter no more, the evolution of the admin profession”