What are some of the crucial skills to become a successful Personal and Executive Assistants?
The critical skills for any Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants, and other administrative professionals are to keep themselves updated, stay open to new opportunities, and learn how to organize their workload efficiently.
Above all, in these rather challenging days and rising pandemic-related challenges across all the industries, besides keeping up with the latest trends, we have to learn how to stay connected. How to take care of our well-being, how to stay productive and optimistic.
In short, the goal is to better ourselves for when the time comes to shine again!
Executive Assistants Releasing 2020 Frustration 🤯
Fear and uncertainty. Attitudes and perceptions. Unrealistic expectations. Change.
1. Keep an eye on your mental health
We all deal with all kinds of stress, and the recent Covid19 pandemic creates even more pressure. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable sitting in front of the screen and giving speeches online. Perhaps your stress is connected to being insecure about your chance for advancement or the risk of contract termination. Or maybe, you are stressed because of a heavy workload or too much responsibility?
You Name It.
How to tackle the palpable sense of unease and helplessness?
Sometimes we cannot help ourselves but get angry by daily annoyances. For instance, dealing with a colleague who doesn’t show up on time to a scheduled meeting, and the internet connection isn’t always working the best! It is a normal stress response.
Our stress levels differ. Some people may see one problem as a minor bump, remotely stressful, but others not so much. If that’s your case, try not to worry yourself sick each time you run into a problem and keep on reading 😉.
We have gathered suggestions from leading experts who advise on how, in a healthy way, can we release stress, the harmful, bottled-up tension that can become destructive to our personal and professional relationships.
Releasing such tension in a wrong way accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions can cause anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, heartburn, ulcers, skin problems, weight gain, or loss.
You can work better with your changing moods. Find out what triggers your panic attacks, anxious feelings, or depressive thoughts and learn to face them. With this intention, you can try this so-called ‘grounding’ technique and prevent negative thoughts.
Slow down a bit…
When you aren’t feeling too hot, pause for a minute.
Take deep breaths and then take one minute to notice what you what’s aro’und you,
what it looks like, its smell, the feeling.
Take a step back…
When you are feeling overwhelmed, overworked or generally stressed.
Allow yourself to stop and step back.
What is it you need right now?
Answer this question for yourself, and focus on making it happen.
Make it the priority as you would if it was for someone you love, your kids, husband, or best friend.
2. Improve Your Well-Being with Gratitude Exercises
Are you feeling under the weather, or worse, depressed, anxious, isolated? Is the year 2020 keep challenging your mental health and adding up to your cup that is already very full? What should you do?
Express your gratitude! Turn it into a daily habit and await the results. This exercise can significantly improve your overall well-being.
- What positive impacts can this exercise have on you if practiced daily?
- Increases in happiness
- Brings higher energy levels
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Develops better sleeping and eating habits
- Helps conquer isolation and lonely feelings
- Improves relationships and advances in your career
3. All Executive Assistants, Get productive! Don’t let the bad environment dominate your life.
Media is already concentrating on the bad things in the News.
Why should you too? Do you always have too much on your plate?
Identify the things that trigger a productive mood for you.
- What puts you in a productive mood?
- Seek small things that make you happy
- Embrace the natural power of calming scents
- Improve your mood, focus, and productivity by setting nature sounds as a background noise
- Implement breathing techniques, inhale & exhale up to the count of 4
- Seek small things that make you happy
- What works for you? Share with us other productivity boost techniques in the comments below! 💬
4. Explore New Tools and Level Up!
Working from home doesn’t have to mean disconnectedness from your coworkers and peers. Have a virtual lunch, networking coffee break, attend an online conference, have a company cocktail party! You can also organize group fitness breaks during the day. You do stretching, a little bit of yoga, be creative! To stay fit and healthy is very important.
Educate yourself on all the features that online communicating tools offer. In other words, there is nothing more important than an effective remote collaboration.
As a personal assistant or executive assistant, having access and familiarity with the latest company management tools is a must. Each company has its own specific needs, yet basic knowledge of Microsoft Office is required across the board. Here are some tools that you should familiarize yourself with.
Have a look at some of the often used tools:
- Google G suite is similar to Microsoft Office and is generally accepted in most businesses giving you access to Google’s version of the word, excel, PowerPoint, or notes.
- Trello: an organizational system that allows management to see the progression of projects and tasks, like Microsoft Planner.
- Calendly: an intuitive software, ideal for small and middle-sized businesses. Using phone and email tags, it connects to key prospects immediately. The starting price is $8, and you have a free trial.
- Slack can replace email, text messaging, and instant messaging for your team, and keep all those communication styles together in one app. With both desktop and mobile versions, Slack can help your team collaborate and coordinate their work no matter where they are. Its free version allows up to 10 users and has a limit of up to 10000 messages, while the full version starts at around $6.67 per active user per month.
- Hootsuite is useful for personal assistants that manage the company’s social media. Here are some of its benefits: it can monitor multiple social media profiles at once, schedule posts in advance, track analytics data, manage customer service. There is a free and pro plan depending on your requirements and costs start from $9.99.
Sounds interesting? Here we have some more, that Executive Assistants often need to know:
- Salesforce is one of the most innovative tools used in big companies. The 5 most important benefits are customer information, account planning, time management, team collaboration, accessibility. You need to be certified as Salesforce Administrator in order to work efficiently.
- TripIt organizes all your travel itineraries and documents so you have everything in one place before you even get to your destination. Also, there is a Pro version with alerts, alternative flights, fare trackers, seat trackers. TripIt Pro offers users a 4 months free trial.
- Dropbox is used for storage backup, sharing big files,
- Monday: is totally customizable to fit your needs, can be used as a project management tool, event management, task management, progress tracking, etc.
- Time Zone Ninja Scheduling meetings around the world- for companies that with people worldwide, we all know how hard is to match a meeting with different time zone as a personal assistant
5. Emotional Intelligence, 80% of the success for Executive Assistants?
David Goleman, in his book, Emotional intelligence, states that at a certain level, emotional intelligence accounts for up to 80 percent of career success.
“People’s emotions are rarely put into words, far more often they are expressed through other cues. The key to intuiting another’s feelings is in the ability to read nonverbal channels, tone of voice, gesture, facial expression, and the like. This is the most powerful form of listening, empathy, hearing the felling’s behind what is being said.”(David Goleman, Emotional Intelligence)
What does it mean to be emotionally intelligent? What is it that a good executive assistant or personal assistant must-have? Is it being kind, helpful, polite, cheerful, or collaborative? It can mean many different skills and actions. It means to show strength in any strategic and challenging moment that may occur, as Daniel Goleman said:
“Bluntly confronting someone with an uncomfortable but consequential truth they’ve been avoiding.”(David Goleman, Emotional Intelligence)
What other specifics has this profession?
Personal Assistants and Executive Assistants work directly with executives. Therefore they are experiencing a lot of stress in this demanding position. To deal with such challenging conditions, it’s essential to see beyond words. Before we get to the next paragraph why don’t you share with us in the comments what do you consider the most important skills, that executive assistants should have? 💬
In the book Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman suggests that:
“A mood can spread through a group with great rapidity.”
(David Goleman, Emotional Intelligence)
Both assistants and executives can choose what mood they want to show up at work with or what type of energy they wish to create in a workplace.
Positive energy, that will create a good mood, help spread positive vibes, initiate innovative thinking, creative ideas, constructive approaches, will also bring good results, and boost productivity.
Or negative, that comes with sad emotions, with all the depressive, disruptive, faithless feelings.
There is a direct connection between the work ethic, environment, and productivity. Firstly, happy executive assistants are more productive than the ones that feel not recognized for their hard work. And feeling underappreciated can result in losing motivation quickly, for instance. The purpose of the positive working place philosophy is not to add more pressure on you or to pretend to look happy at any cost, or to put a smile on your face even when you don’t have the most fabulous day.
But rather for you to be in control of your emotions and know how to be in touch with your moods and soul. It is up to you to choose not to pass your lousy mood on to your peers and be true to yourself about what is achievable for days like that.
6. ‘Wheel & Deal’, diplomacy and negotiating are valuable and critical for any administrative professional’s career
“During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave personalities out of it, you will be able to see opportunities more objectively.“
Master the diplomacy skill as an executive assistant and you will hold the key to success in the business. Results flowing from this kind of negotiation tend to be more tangible, productive, and cost-effective. For PAs and EAs, pacification is a type of diplomacy, that is very useful in various concessions to reach the desired outcome while agreeing with the parties involved on compromises that are beneficial to all the sides involved.
Negotiation skills play a significant role in terms of what you are reaching for as an executive assistant. but first, you have to be clear on what it is you want. How much time, and energy, and money are you willing to spend on it. Ask first, and then wait for the offer. One of the wrong assumptions in negotiating is to view it as a win-lose situation. The point of it is to see it as accomplishing a transaction and putting collaboration in place.
Do you commonly use a negotiation skill that works for you every time? Share with other professionals your experience in the comments below. 💬
7. Effective communication skills are an absolute ‘Must-Have‘!
PA or EA profession may as well be the most versatile profession there is. Communication skill is also one of the most important requirements for this profession. It allows them to properly understand and to properly convey ideas as well as to listen to the tasks at hand, a two-way street.
There is a wide range of communication tasks, including a wide range of duties that ask for a high level of verbal and writing skillset, like taking urgent calls, responding to emails, presenting, greeting visitors, networking, asking well-formulated questions, explaining processes and more. An administrative assistant is constantly communicating with the whole company, supporting the company’s employee requirements, in various tasks. Executive assistants takes care of a truly big number of various tasks ranging from getting office supplies, answering incoming calls, as well as full digital presence, organization.
What is the most challenging task, that can an administrative professional encounter during or outside of the working hours? Leave us a comment! 💬
8. Organizing skills & Industry knowledge
Organizational skills depend on specific duties, responsibilities, and functions. It’s very important to stay up to date with the latest handy technology tools. Proficiency in the latest software will help with efficient scheduling of appointments, tasks, travel booking, and also with reporting or managing the team. Knowledge of the 2020s most used software is considered an advantage, and it counts when you are looking for a new job.
Make an effort to widen your horizons via online courses. Participate in events related to your industry and make connections with other administrative professionals at conferences intended for aspiring individuals like yourself. You will leave with many ideas on how to improve your work, how to tackle the work challenges, explore new tools, and make amazing connections.
9. A real office-world skill? Anticipation.
What does an anticipation skill look like? Why is it so important to mention this skill and put it on the list with other most important assistant professionals’ skills?
The power of anticipation requires the EA to have an elevated emotional perceptiveness. The ability to foretaste the future negative or positive events is very closely tied to individual emotional intelligence level. As an executive assistant, you need to be able to prospect and prevent any seemingly small issues, that could develop into real problems. This cannot be overestimated. Anticipation skill comes from a real job and life experience.
Both types of anticipations, the companies’ or executives’ issues, can bring long-term benefits and save valuable time. This foreseeing skill will bring you more time to focus on getting things done efficiently.
10. Organized ‘Officing’? Organized Everything.
Running things in disorder in the office or at home have a major role in the well-being of everyone with who you spend time at work or home. Recent studies show that office clutter can increase the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, and act as enemy number one.
Having an organized office helps to create a productive environment. A pleasant work atmosphere for executive assistants is essential to work fast and achieve all the goals set for the day, week, or year. Where there is no harmony and usefulness, there is no motivation in the long term and the persistence of lower productivity is obvious.
Do you like to go ‘Above & Beyond‘?
What are the several benefits of having plants in the office? Firstly, they are the best listeners. Secondly, when you need to vent about having a bad day or a horrible boss. Try them first! They are also a positive office environment friendly. They love to help to lower stress, reduce noises, filter the air, enhance the workplace, boost productivity, creativity, and decrease sickness.
The Sansevieria plant purifies the air better than most other indoor plants as it has the ability to absorb excessive amounts of carbon monoxide. Additionally, it emits oxygen, filters other toxins from the air such as benzene, xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde. Clearing up the air protects you from air allergies.
11. Executive assistant is taking an initiative
Own it. Nobody likes to see you blaming others for not getting things done. As an executive assistant, you need to take control of your tasks and work duties. Use your energy wisely and motivate yourself daily on the tasks that need to be accomplished with priority. EA’s understand the importance of taking initiative, properly going above and beyond while collaborating with a team. You should not be waiting around for anyone to tell you what to do.
Set realistic goals, reflecting the time and effort you can reserve in them. Check off one task after another and keep moving forward.
We know how it feels to have a never-ending list of tasks to be done.
Take action. Challenge Yourself.
Embrace the professional challenges!
One of the main requirements of an EA is to take the workload from the executive and get things done as efficiently as possible. Even with a large list of tasks an effective executive assistant must know how to properly prioritize over time, as well as on a minute by minute basis.
12. Learn as you go. Keep adding assets to your Skill Set.
Have you ever been asked to find a solution for issues outside of your knowledge area? To solve it would require a deeper understanding of that domain. What now? How can you possibly come up with efficient solutions? Your only chance is to..
You will need to throw a Google search, search for the latest articles published, read books, maybe even educate yourself on an entirely new thing. Don’t give. Wait for that feeling of happiness that will flow your veins after you succeed. You are rightfully proud of yourself. You earned it.
Challenge accepted. You have learned a lesson. Next time, you will be ready, because from now on you will make it a habit to learn new things on a daily basis. For sake of your career development, take free online courses, read the latest books and articles. As for immediate answers to questions outside your expertise, simply use Google. Proper research techniques will help you solve problems in a timely manner.
Working as an Executive Assistant in a digital world, you should also be familiar with the latest tools and innovations. In the digital world, learning has become much easier and accessible. Even more so, you can learn from anywhere in the world.
Here are some online platforms that are great for career development.
LinkedIn Learning – https://www.linkedin.com/learning dedicated to businesses, creatives, and those looking to learn tech skills, the online platform is full of video tutorials, from leading experts. On this platform when you accomplish a course, you can instantly share the certificate with your social network.
Udemy – https://www.udemy.com/ has good prices compared to the market, and they always have sales, just keep an eye on the course you are interested in.
Open Classrooms – https://openclassrooms.com/en/ is available in 2 languages, English and French, to find out what course you are interested in and if you wish to improve your French “Maintenant ç’est le moment” 😊, now is the time.
Reed.co.uk – https://www.reed.co.uk/ they also have free courses, each dedicated to training personal and executive assistants.
Do you have a favorite online source where you just love to go to explore and learn about the latest trends? Please do share them with us in the comments. We would be thrilled to do some research and share your ideas with others. So let us know! 💬
13. Join Executive Assistants Conferences in 2021 & Start Networking
Attending conferences is always a good way how to expand your knowledge and to find out how your peers are getting things done. When you are working you barely have free time to discover what is new in the executive assistant world. At a conference you gain access to unpublished data, knowledge from the best leaders in your field, and also have the opportunity to ask them questions regarding your personal skills.
Networking is one of the main reasons why Executive Assistants attend a conference. Conferences bring like-minded people together, from all over the world. Together they share the same desire to build on their careers. At a PA or EA conference or summit, the main goal is to keep yourself engaged with the latest trends. If you enjoy new ideas, challenges, lively discussion, you will feel overjoyed. Soak in all the new and exciting. Bring it back to your workplace and elaborate.
Don’t miss out on our online editions of this popular conference. We will provide you with a certificate of attendance which will make great asses to your portfolio. Don’t wait for anything and register now!
One of the beauties of attending a conference like ours is that you are surrounded by your peers, people who have dealt with some of the same career challenges. These people can be a great source of information. Bring a good mood and be open-minded, introduce yourself to as many people as you can, and create yourself a new network of industry professionals. These people will become your ultimate resource of knowledge and insights, that you can apply to various aspects of your job.
14. Embrace other perspectives and make the right choices
We spend 80% of our days at work. Our behavior is the main factor in creating a healthy environment. A wise approach is to be able to look over differences and develop long term beneficial relationships with your coworkers. Hearing others’ perspectives on the same issue can be insightful. Considering that an executive assistant deals with many people each day, it is important to have a wider perspective when it comes to finding solutions. Disposition, attitude, mood, or feelings, have an impact on your level of effectiveness, ability to make productive choices, creativity, and aptitude to work with others.
Let’s dive in deep and see what the harmful behaviors are, and how to stop them. Rude executives’ behavior not only makes the work environment unpleasant; they also lower productivity, leading employees to make more mistakes than usual, explains Jennifer A. Bunk, a West Chester University professor and member of the Society of Industrial & Organizational Psychology.
You can also share this Ted talk with your ‘rude’ peers:
Executives should be aware that this type of toxic behavior harms productivity and lowers job satisfaction. Considering those facts, employees usually leave the company because of their managers’ leadership behavior and lack of communication skills. If there is no improvement in your management, don’t waste your time, and start seeking other opportunities.
You can also share this Ted talk with your “rude: peers:
Gossiping is a big no-no to do at work for any executive assistants
First, it distracts your attention, from work and performance, and secondly, you must realize that by participating in this type of discussion the person who started it, will from now on always gossip come with gossip to you. And it is most likely that that person is talking about you too behind your back. Gossiping breaks trust decreases morals, creates miscommunication, and creates conflicts. Try to avoid it and keep your workplace relationships at a professional level.
On the other hand, working in a motivating environment with great leaders has shown to boost productivity, and create a long-term bond. As an executive assistant, sometimes you are the bridge of communication between the executive and the team. Try to create a healthy pleasant work environment for everyone, including you.
Hope you have enjoyed reading this article, if you have other skills to add, we greatly appreciate your feedback. Feel free to share this article with your peers on LinkedIn, forums, or other social media. Let us know what subjects have caught your intention and what other topics you are interested in as an executive assistant so we can interview the experts in this domain and come back to you with good quality content.
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”