Rebecca Kelly, Co-Founder of VenueScanner, here discusses the vital role of a personal assistant and how directors and CEOs should be getting the best out of their help.
A personal assistant in one of the most important people in a CEO’s personal and working life; they represent their personal and business reputation and are usually the first person the world meets before meeting you. As the Chief Exec’s right arm, they are entrusted to quickly adopt their boss’ voice and the way they like to work and present themselves. However, an increasing number of CEOs make the error of underestimating the importance of regularly inspiring and empowering their PA which, combined, help to establish a strong and productive relationship.
1. Step back
As CEO, handing over control of your diary (and entire working life) may seem unnerving, but stepping back is the most important starting point when establishing a working relationship. Your PA will be the key contact in email, phone or face-to-face communication with clients and colleagues, so giving them the opportunity to represent you will ensure they’re motivated and on-the-ball. Work together to go through potential scenarios that might arise, so they can learn and adapt to your tone of voice. A lack of trust creates inefficiency, not to mention poor morale.
2. Don’t trap them
You may have a routine that you’re familiar with but you must avoid trapping your assistant into this routine – be open to new, creative ideas that your assistant may present to you. Forcing them to maintain a rigid, monotonous way of working without freedom for imagination will guide your business to a standstill.
It’s important to reiterate that an executive can benefit from an assistant’s feedback as much as the other way around, so encourage your assistant to put their own stamp on projects as this will inspire them to find more efficient, productive ways to achieve the best results for you and your company.
3. Open the doors
Inviting your assistant to join meetings will indefinitely encourage productivity. In the time you spend updating your PA on the minutes and actions from a meeting you attended, your assistant could have got on with any number of urgent tasks. By inviting your assistant into the meeting to take in the discussion for themselves, they will also understand how you interact with clients on a personal level, which is always different to a formal or informal email.
As your PA becomes a regular fixture at meetings, it will send a message of reassurance to clients that your PA is an authoritative member of your team and will encourage them to open a line of communication without involving you; maximising your productivity simultaneously.
4. Face to face time
Dedicating one-to-one time with your assistant, whether it be 10 minutes or an hour, at least every week, is incredibly important in motivating your assistant to be the best they can be. As a CEO, you may be in contact with your assistant every day over email, phone or text, but personal communication can be lost. To prevent this potential break in your relationship, scheduling this one-to-one time will eliminate any unanswered questions or niggles that could develop into bigger issues if left unresolved and create a much more efficient workplace. Understanding what success looks like and how to achieve it with clear goals, while allowing room for innovation, will ensure that your PA maximises their ability.
The constant discussion among our PA network is the crucial role of recognition and praise. It can be transformational when CEOs take the time out of their day to recognise and express gratitude to the level of detail a PA puts into making their boss’ corporate schedule run smoothly. A clear understanding that they’re working for someone who appreciates them will reassure them that they are vital to the long-term ambitions, so they too will work towards long term goals.
Ultimately, a motivated assistant will transform your working life. Trusting them to co-ordinate your life, attend meetings and innovate daily will keep working life varied – the most principal factor when striving to achieve productivity. Together with face-to-face meetings and the openness to give and receive feedback, you can be sure to establish a strong, productive and long-lasting relationship.