5 Easy Tips on How To Be a Better Executive Assistant

May 13, 2014

- Posted by Stephen Chapek


Executive Assistants are very important to the smooth functioning of any business organization. They are the ones who perform countless tasks that help complete the big picture!

Without them, many offices would simply grind to a halt. So if you work as one, you can take pride in the fact that your boss probably couldn’t do his or her job without your help, or at least do it as effectively as they do now.

Five Ways to Be a Better Executive Assistant


1. Organizational Skills and Being Detail Oriented

You won’t succeed at your job as an administrative professional if you can’t get organized. This is a critical skill for this role because it is in the nature of the job to have to deal with varied and numerous tasks, details and files. 

Think of your job as organizer-in-chief. As an admin, people are probably coming to you all the time to ask for information, help, requests, files, whatever it is they need to get done. Establish a daily routine and use checklist and to-do lists to accomplish your various tasks. 

Track your progress on a daily/weekly/monthly basis so you know where you stand, and you don’t fall behind. Procrastination is the enemy of administrative assistants.

The job of an administrative assistant is like being a juggler. You have to keep many balls in the air at once. At first, it will seem impossible. But with practice, you’ll find you can keep more balls in the air, for longer, and soon it will seem like a breeze!


2. Have Solid Judgment

As an administrative assistant, you’ll be expected to use good judgment in handling different tasks. Your job may be routine, but it will never be boring. Admin assistants are like the clearinghouse for an organization. Customer inquiries, employee complaints, questions about files and record keeping, phone calls from corporate headquarters and outside vendors, office equipment and supply ordering, sensitive corporate documents are the kinds of issues that will cross your desk.

Your job is to deal with all of this effectively. That requires setting priorities, using logic and reasoning, figuring out who needs what, and keeping a cool head in the process. If you possess common sense, empathy, and intelligence, then you can figure it out.

Beyond the physical items, you’ll also be dealing with many different types of people, employees, and customers. Learn to handle different personalities and requests with aplomb.

Just remember to make one decision at a time, and handle the most urgent requests first. As they said in Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the first rule of intergalactic travel or in your case office management, is ‘Don’t Panic!’


3. Teamwork

Being an administrative assistant means being a team player. Your job is to assist others and help them do their jobs, not be the center of attention. So learn your place in the organization, and make sure you are doing a good job of taking care of your managers and getting them what they need to succeed. If you are ineffective, then they won’t be able to be efficient either, and the outcome won’t be good for either party.

Being a team player also means being humble. Remember you’re in an assisting role, so that could mean getting coffee, cleaning up the office, or running errands. It may not seem important, but you are freeing up others to get higher level tasks done. If you work for a good organization, your hard work won’t go unnoticed.


4. Time Management

This is another essential attribute no successful administrative assistant can be without. Since you have a million and one things to do on a weekly basis, you can’t afford to spend too much time on any one task, especially if you work in a fast paced office. You could be the most thorough filer or organizer in the world, but if you take all day to do it, your usefulness to the organization will be compromised. On the flip side, if you can accomplish tasks quickly, your importance, and your value will soar!

We've put together a huge list of online tools that can help with time and task management in our ultimate list of resources for executive administrators. You may want to save it to your computer and reference it when you need a tool to help keep you organized.


5. Become Indispensable

This last point is kind of a summation of everything that has come before. If you can do all of the above functions well, you will create a synergy that makes you doubly valuable. 

Being indispensable is the ultimate job security. The more things you can accomplish, the more help you provide, the more smiles you can put on people’s faces, that’s what will get you recognized for your contribution, and hopefully lead to bigger and better things. In order to rise within an organization, you need to take on real responsibility, show initiative and prove that you can be trusted.


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Topics: Executive Assistants

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