SMART Goals for an Executive Assistant
Setting SMART goals is vital for a successful career as an executive assistant.
Whether you set them or the executive you work for does, clear and attainable goals help you:
- Prioritize your workload better
- Use time and resources more productively
- Develop key professional and personal skills
- Evaluate your successes
All of these things are crucial in such a busy, diverse, and constantly evolving role.
In this post, we’ll explain what SMART goals are, and we’ll give some best practices for setting SMART goals for an executive assistant.
What are SMART Goals?
SMART is an acronym that helps you to set realistic and attainable goals. The acronym represents all of the things your goals need to be to set you up for success. These goals can be for yourself or somebody else. But, really, every goal benefits from being in the SMART format.
SMART goals are:
- Specific. Is your goal clear and detailed enough that you know where to get started?
- Measurable. Can you track your progress and measure outcomes?
- Achievable. Is it reasonable for you to achieve this goal in the given time frame?
- Relevant. Does your goal align with your (and your company’s) wider values and long-term objectives?
- Time-bound. When do you want to achieve this goal?
For example, a not-so-SMART goal would be “I want to start running.” Whereas a SMART goal would be “I want to run 5k in under 30 minutes in time for a charity race three months from now.”
One of these goals is super easy to put off and difficult to know if you accomplished. The other isn’t.
SMART Goals for an Executive Assistant
So how can you incorporate SMART goals into your role as an executive assistant? We’ve outlined what this looks like below.
Picture this. You’re in your annual performance review with your boss. They tell you that one of your goals moving forward is to “increase office efficiency.” You feel lost. What do they mean? How do you get started? And how will they decide whether you’ve met this goal?
As a rockstar EA, you’ll remain calm and do the best you can. But you’d do an even better job if you had just a bit more information.
In other words, vague goals are useless.
This vagueness is an example of why it’s essential to be as clear and specific as possible when setting goals. And if your boss sets a vague goal, ask them to elaborate. Help guide them to answering the questions; you need to set a SMART goal because you need to know exactly where to focus your efforts when getting started.
When setting clear and specific goals, think about the five Ws:
- What exactly do you want to accomplish?
- Why is the goal essential for you or the company?
- Who needs to be involved in achieving the goal?
- Where should the goal fall in the organizational structure?
- Which internal or external resources do you need to accomplish the goal?
Going back to our earlier example of increasing office efficiency. A SMART goal is to decrease the time employees spend on administrative tasks by 25% by implementing new digital systems by the end of the year. Meeting this goal would give employees more time to focus on high-value tasks without adding extra hours to their day.
With a more specific goal, you know where to start and what to do.
It’s important to set measurable goals to track your progress and know when objectives are complete. Seeing progress also helps focus and motivate you.
The executive you report to also will want to know how you are progressing with your goals. Showing tangible progress and results is an excellent way of proving your commitment to the company and growing in your role.
To create measurable goals, think about which metrics you are using:
- How much?
- How many?
Examples of measurable goals for an executive assistant are:
- Schedule a coffee or lunch once per week with a different colleague to get to know people from every department.
- Reduce the time you spend on data input by 20% by the end of the year.
- Dedicate 30 minutes each week to researching new time-saving tools and resources.
While it’s good for SMART goals for an executive assistant to be ambitious, it’s also important to know they’re attainable. There’s no point in setting a goal if you don’t have the time or resources to achieve it.
As an executive assistant, setting some time aside to achieve your professional development goals is essential. But, you can’t spend so much time enrolling in Excel courses and brushing up on your Canva skills that you let your key EA duties slip. It’s important to create balance. Only set goals that you know you can feasibly achieve.
You also shouldn’t set goals to implement a new state-of-the-art time management tool or increase the number of big office parties if there’s no money in the budget to fund these things. Be sure to liaise with your executive before setting any goals with a financial impact.
When setting goals, stretch your abilities and challenge yourself to develop creative solutions to problems. But don’t set yourself up for failure from the get-go with unrealistic goals.
Making relevant goals as an EA means ensuring your goals align with and support your own professional goals, your executive’s goals, and your company’s goals.
Good questions to ask when setting a goal include:
- Is this goal a valuable use of my time?
- Does this goal add to the purpose of my EA role?
- Does this goal support my executive’s goals or the organization’s goals?
- Is it the right time within the current business climate to pursue this goal?
- Am I the right person to achieve this goal?
A relevant SMART goal early on in your career might be to earn an appropriate professional certification. These voluntary qualifications help to improve your knowledge, skills, and credibility as an EA. Therefore, this goal is relevant to your career development as an EA and your current job.
Finally, every SMART goal needs a deadline or target date. The deadline gives you something to focus on and work toward.
Once again, the time frame needs to be realistic to give yourself enough time to succeed. The deadline could be a week, a month, or even a year.
Setting target dates to coincide with your performance review is a great way to evaluate your goals and performance alongside your boss.
Also, set smaller objectives and regular progress check-ins to ensure you’re on track to meet your final deadline for larger goals.