Top Tips for Success as an Executive Assistant

by | Jul 26, 2021 | Blog, LifeSquire Connect

You got your dream job as an executive assistant. So what’s next? It’s time to focus on building your success in this rapidly changing field. Below are our top tips as an executive assistant. 

Save Every Resource

A great executive assistant knows the best-kept secrets, has a solution to every problem, and a resource on hand for any situation. That’s why one of our top tips is to keep a spreadsheet of all valuable resources you come across.

Your resource sheet may contain:

  • Tools
  • Services
  • Web Links
  • Contacts

Keeping resources in a spreadsheet means you can access them quickly when a situation arises.

Stay Calm

As an executive assistant, you’ll experience some high-pressure situations that senior company executives face regularly. Executives will pass some of that pressure on to you in the form of tight deadlines and demanding tasks.

To be a successful EA, you need to remain calm and composed no matter what gets thrown your way. Even if a task is seemingly impossible, do your best to develop a creative solution or work-around. 

Executives have enough stress. It’s not their job to calm down a panicked assistant constantly. Instead, stay calm and think through the next right step. Then do that thing.

Keep Up with Technology

One of an EA’s many duties is to be an exec’s technology specialist.

Most EA job specs require proficiency in processing software such as Microsoft Word and Excel. But it would be good if you wanted to learn and excel at other forms of advancing workplace technology.

Watch for technology that helps boost efficiency for yourself, your executives, and the company. It may be project management software like Asana or time-saving web extensions like LastPass, which saves login details for any website or app.

Any time you make an exec’s job easier through new digital systems is a bonus for them and you. Being able to troubleshoot simple tech problems also is a worthwhile skill for an EA.

Learn about the Entire Company

Although you work for one exec, you have to communicate and collaborate across the organization.

Make sure you meet with people from every department early on. Learn the ins and outs of what they do and any problems they might face. This information will help you facilitate communication between departments and increase company productivity.

Having a functional knowledge of every department also will help you be a more reliable counsel. In addition, you can provide valuable insights for your exec when acting as a sounding board for big company decisions.

Welcome and Encourage Feedback

A great executive assistant encourages and welcomes feedback from their boss and colleagues.

Constructive criticism and feedback aren’t things to fear. They’ll let you know what you can improve on and help you to grow in your role. 

Listening to feedback and acting on it will also show your boss that you want to be the best you can be.

Plus, don’t be afraid to offer feedback in return. Honesty and openness are essential to successful working relationships.

Celebrate Successes 

As well as criticism and feedback, it’s equally as important to celebrate successes.

Just as your boss should show their appreciation and acknowledge your achievements, be sure to celebrate theirs too. Executives spend a lot of time praising their employees for good work but don’t receive many compliments of their own. Congratulating your boss for a job well done will lead to a happier and more motivated executive.

Stay Organized

Strong organizational skills are one of the most important qualities of a great executive assistant. Being an EA is a fast-paced job with a lot to stay on top of, from managing a busy executive’s schedule to overseeing important client projects. As a result, there’s no time to lose due to disorganization.

Start by finding the right project management software for your team. Some options are:

  • ClickUp
  • Trello
  • Asana

Using project management software helps you keep all of your to-do lists in one place. You also can share and collaborate on lists with colleagues. 

Be sure to have a single to-do list for each day. This method helps you avoid missing any critical deadlines.

Know Your Boss’s Preferences

Another top tip is to know your executive’s work preferences.

Do they prefer having all of their meetings on one day? Or do they like them spread across the week? Do they prefer meetings first thing in the morning? Or do they want to take meetings later in the day?

Knowing your boss’s preferences and planning accordingly is a good way to make yourself stand out as a superstar executive assistant.

Professional Executive Assistant

Know How to Prioritize

A successful executive assistant knows how to prioritize.

Have a conversation with your boss early on about the most critical tasks and projects. These will align with broader company goals. Once you know what’s most pressing, you can prioritize your time accordingly.

Being the “gatekeeper” to an executive, you also should know how to prioritize their time. Filter out any distractions and make sure your boss is focusing on the highest value tasks.

Be Trustworthy

As an executive assistant, your boss will trust you with important and sensitive information. This information may relate to the business or the executive’s personal life. Discretion and trustworthiness are vital qualities. Keep privileged information safe and prove that you’re a valued confidant.

Learn to Task Switch Quickly

The ability to task switch quickly is another crucial skill of a rock star executive assistant. You often need to juggle multiple tasks and projects at once. Get comfortable jumping between tasks, especially the more menial ones. 

For example, if you’re on hold during a phone call, do some filing while you wait. Or, if you’re out on a coffee run for your boss, respond to emails while standing in line.

Multi-tasking is essential for maximizing your valuable time.

Make Decisions Quickly and Thoughtfully

In the fast-paced business world, you need to make decisions fast. But, making quick decisions is different from rushing decisions.

A successful executive assistant needs to evaluate a situation, gather additional information, and ask questions to make fast strategic decisions. You can’t wait around to make up your mind or for someone to tell you what to do.

Practice being decisive and making quick, well-informed decisions.

Laugh at Yourself

The last of our top tips as an executive assistant is to laugh at yourself. 

Don’t take everything too seriously.

The job of an executive assistant is not the easiest. You undergo the same levels of stress as most senior company executives. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a thick skin, keep things in perspective, and maybe even laugh at yourself every once in a while.

Contact LifeSquire to Learn More Tips as an Executive Assistant

You landed that great position; now it’s time to apply the tips for an executive assistant above to secure your success with the company. 

If you’re interested in learning more about being a successful executive assistant, check out our LifeSquire Academy. It’s packed full of teachings and advice that will help you stay successful throughout your EA career. 

Are you thinking about becoming an executive assistant or looking for a new EA position? At LifeSquire, we’re always looking for hardworking executive assistants to join our candidate pool. Contact us today to find out more.

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