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The skills differentiating great EAs of the future
The role of an Executive Assistant (EA) has traditionally been to provide support to their executive in order for them to concentrate on the business’s principle objectives and priorities. Fast-forward to 2019, the responsibilities of an EA have expanded into strategic planning, project management, and even budget, office and HR management.
At the end of the day, successful EAs must elevate their executive.
So what skills must great EAs be training in today to ensure they not only stay relevant but ahead of the game in the coming years?
According to Jonathan McIlroy, Executive Director of Education and Training at the Executive Assistant Network, there is one big difference between modern EAs and the traditional role of EAs of the past, where they were predominantly reactive and told what to do and when to do it.
“It’s now all about working strategically and in a proactive way – and I emphasise the point around being very proactive,” he revealed.
“Today, most great EAs don’t often need to be directed – they know exactly what their executive is going to need and when, and in anticipating those needs, they also develop other areas the executive is going to require so they can be even more productive and more effective.”
How EAs are lifting the benchmark
McIlroy shared evidence of the hallmarks of EAs that will succeed in the changing business environment: “We’re seeing that great EAs should not only a great breadth but also a real depth of knowledge specifically around what their executives are doing, why they’re doing it, and how it contributes to the business overall.”
In order to achieve this, accurately understanding the executive’s priorities are crucial.
“This is the area where 70 per cent to 80 per cent of businesses engage with us – they want to talk to their EAs around this piece,” he revealed.
“This process requires the executive and the EA to be fully aligned with exactly what it is they are trying to achieve because, at times, they can be at odds with what the role is and where it should go.
“We’ve seen EAs who only have decent conversations with their executive once a week, sometimes once a fortnight. Whereas we know others who have regular, scheduled discussions first thing every morning – this allows the EA to be more proactive and to work more unilaterally, therefore saving the executive more time in the long run.”
Investing time and commitment to an EA’s development, particularly on the strategic side, is therefore vital.
“We have conducted internal calculations as to what the difference between having an average EA and a great EA can mean for an organisation. It’s astronomical, financially,” McIlroy said.
“There are examples of EAs who are really working at a high level and achieving results for their executive. But many don’t get much acknowledgement or reward for the hard work they put in.
“So it’s great when they get deserved recognition, and it’s also great for their executive and organisation to be seen as being highly progressive. Importantly, it helps lift the bar.”
Are you Australia’s best EA? Enter now for your chance to be crowned Page Personnel EA of the Year 2019 and win a luxury weekend getaway plus many more prizes. This year, there will be state-based winners as well as the overall national winner.
Upon completion of entry, EAs will be invited to an exclusive workshop held across Australia hosted by Executive Assistant Academy, including a session on understanding your executive’s priorities.
EA of the Year 2019 is brought to you in partnership with Executive Assistant Academy, recognising excellence in the EA and PA communities to highlight the efforts of those hard at work behind the scenes.