Are you an EA seeking greater impact in your role?
With the increasing demand for Executive Assistants to be even bigger powerhouses, and an EA’s desire to have greater impact and ability to progress their careers, how might a traditional EA role be shifted to the next level?
There are three types of situations that we come across when we talk to EAs and explore how they are keeping themselves refreshed, their skillsets relevant and their engagement levels high. And three different paths they can take to feel fulfilled, satisfied and doing their best work ever.
1. Sponsored growth
If you’re lucky, you work for a fabulous leader in an organisation whose purpose you believe in. They regularly show that they value you in your role. They appreciate your skills and mind-sets, your emotional intelligence, and how you partner with them to make their role easier.
These managers are often supportive of meaningful professional development and are open to helping you improve and add even more value, while encouraging you to grow professionally and personally. They recognise that investing in you ultimately supports them, their own outcomes and the organisation’s goals.
So if you’re one of these lucky EAs, then the path is open for you to re-think the impact you would like to have and the development path that fits. You have a manager who is open to working with you to reshape your role, and so questions you can explore with him/her include:
- How can my role add greater value to you and the business?
- What’s keeping you awake at night? How can my role help change that?
- What high-value tasks are you not getting to now that I can step in and help move along?
- Which initiatives are stalling or slowing? How might my role step in to help facilitate?
- What high-value projects can I take a lead on?
These are all bigger questions that helps you to move your role more towards what we call a Business Facilitator. And then, with your manager’s sponsorship, find the development programs that help you to evolve in that direction.
2. Self-led growth
If you aren’t quite as lucky, your executive may not be as supportive of your growth and career progression. They might not care that much, or simply don’t have the time, inclination or know-how to work with you on your aspirations or goals. The organisation might not have a purpose that you relate to or believe in – not enough to make you want to stay! And perhaps they don’t have a culture that resonates for you.
So if you don’t have the support to grow, keep your skillsets up-to-date, and keep evolving your capabilities in your role today, how are you going to compete (when that might be needed), stay relevant and/or reach your real full potential?
If this sounds more like you, then the first step is (still) starting the conversation. Ask your boss how s/he sees your role evolving and adding more value to them and the organisation. The answer will tell you if they see the role as more transactional (eg, “just keep on doing what you’re doing”). Ask them if they would sponsor a development program for you or give you wider opportunities to grow in your role. Afterall, we don’t receive if we don’t ask!
And if the answer is still no or non-committal, then choose to invest in yourself. Be intentional, invest in you, find courses, programs and self-study that interests you. And seek out the chance to use these skills outside work – through your hobbies, clubs, sports, volunteering – it all counts and ultimately increases your value in the future.
3. Grow to reinvent
Or perhaps you simply have a deep desire to craft a different sort of career, or a very different life for yourself? One that is more virtual, flexible, remote? Or one that uses your wide-range of superpowers in really different ways? One that has greater variety and interest? One that gets you motivated to jump out of bed and start work in the morning? Of you simply might crave a better quality of work and life “balance” that doesn’t involve 10-12 hour days, a 2 hour commute and no time for yourself.
So if this sounds like you, know that there are so many more of these types of opportunities out there – especially with the shifts that COVID caused organisations to make! It’s a matter of deciding to prepare for these opportunities and taking steps – even small ones – that help you to evolve and refresh your skillsets, build new networks and connections, and find support and encouragement in the people you surround yourself with.
This path requires you to put several more ducks into place, as your mindspace, finances, living arrangements, family and friends, support networks, often need to line up to help you to make the move. So while it’s a bit of a bigger deal, working through the risks and the benefits will help you to take the steps that help you to shift the patterns of your life.
Whichever of these scenarios is most similar to yours, here are five ideas to help lead you towards becoming more fulfilled, engaged and future-fit:
- Talk to your executive and ask how you can have more impact across the organisation (perhaps including taking ‘Assistant’ out of your title!); ask them to sponsor a development plan for you.
- Do a SWOT of your current role. What are the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of your role to your ongoing career satisfaction and fulfillment?
- Using a goal planner, take stock of your career, role, company and how that fits with your future career goals, aspirations, hopes and desires.
- Start exploring a range of opportunities – even if you’re not that interested in them. The comparisons help you to learn more about what’s important to you (and not!) and help you to see your relative strengths for different types of positions.
- Make a list of all the things you love doing, are good at and that you value in life. Rate on a scale of 1-10, how much each of these feature in your role right now. The perspective might surprise you!
Hope you find these ideas helpful. If you’d like some guidance and support in how to achieve more impact in your role, reach out to me at FutureCrafters: email@example.com