The interplay between an Executive and his or her Executive Assistant is a lot like a marriage. It is most successful when there is healthy communication.
Just like marriage, however, this relationship builds over time. And it is not uncommon to feel out of sync with each other at one point or another.
When you and your EA need help getting back on the same page, it’s important for you as the Leader to take the lead. This shows your commitment to team development, and prevents a nasty cycle that we call the Sick-Cycle Carousel of Frustration.
Here are three ways to get on the same page as your EA.
Start Small and Build
The rockiest time with your EA may be the beginning, when the relationship is new and they are still getting to know you and your business.
During this time, avoid the temptation to offload everything from your todo list to them. It is better to start small with 1-3 priority projects, and increase their workload gradually as they successfully own those outcomes.
Choose projects or outcomes that will free up most of your time right away, or the $10/$100 tasks that you’re competent at, but shouldn’t really be doing.
Some examples include email and calendar management and customer service.
A good way to provide structure and support to your EA as you are both getting on the same page, schedule a weekly, one-hour meeting to discuss any roadblocks or questions. This will help your EA progress quickly to take on more work.
If you ever feel frustrated by your EA’s work output, it’s important to ask: is this a people problem, or a process problem? A majority of the time, it is a process problem.
Everyone has their own way of doing things, which is why it’s your job to decide if you want your EA to follow their own processes, or yours.
If you allow your EA to follow their own processes, invite them to document what they do. And always make sure you communicate your non-negotiables, those outcomes that you want done your way — no exceptions.
One example of a non-negotiable is expecting your calendar appointments to contain all necessary information for an appointment, including phone numbers, addresses, relevant notes, and more.
Acknowledge Your Differences
For your EA to provide optimal stability to your life as a business owner and Leader, you have to allow them to get to know you — and you have to know them.
It’s likely that you two have different personalities and opposing strengths. This can be a good thing if you compensate for each others’ weaknesses.
For example, your EA may rely on affirming words to feel like they are doing a good job, even if you don’t. Acknowledge this difference and then act on it by giving them frequent verbal feedback.
Or, if you know from Enneagram that your EA doesn’t like confrontation, create ways to have open and honest dialogue that doesn’t feel hostile.
By acknowledging your differences, starting small and clarifying processes, you are taking important steps to improve communication with your EA and get in sync.
It takes work to have a successful relationship with your EA, but worth it for you to feel stable in your role and fully supported.
If you’re interested in learning about what an Executive Assistant can do for your business, schedule a strategy call with us.
Our virtual team experts will help you determine how your business can benefit from our Priority Executive Assistants.