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What are the main challenges an EA faces? Q&A with Linda Janson – 2015 EA of the Year
Last year’s winner Linda Janson is the Executive Assistant to CIO Virgin Australia. Linda won the 2015 EA of the Year award for the significant impact of her initiatives – she was described as the driving force of employee engagement for the Queensland based operation for Virgin.
Here are Linda’s solutions to some of the main challenges an EA faces:
Challenge 1: Managing a big load/work-life balance
Being an executive assistant inevitably means you manage a large workload, especially if you are looking after more than one person, as you are effectively managing their workloads too.
Solution: Give and take is key
Luckily at Virgin we have flexible working arrangements. For example if you need to be at home, say if the plumber is coming, then you can work from home easily. We have access to our systems everywhere and anytime. Virgin has invested in their IT network to support this. More than that though, it is about give and take with your team and managers. You can make up time when it suits you.
Challenge 2: People issues – dealing with difficult people
The EA is the person managers, employees, vendors, clients, board members and visitors come to when they need something. In some cases, we have to deal with people who are difficult, have a bad attitude, or those who see us as a subordinate whom they can bully. We must be able to assess difficult situations and then communicate assertively and clearly, while maintaining confidentiality and good working relationships.
Solution: Think of the big picture
The key here is to rise above it. Be polite and maintain your dignity. Always remember you may have a very different relationship with this person in a year’s time – you may need something from them, so being professional at all times is essential. If you need to say no, say no. Be firm, but never rude.
Maintain flexibility at all times. There may well be an outside reason the miscommunication has occurred and there is conflicting information coming at you.
Challenge 3: Dealing with ambiguity
If you have a few people you are looking after it can be confusing if you get conflicting instructions. Deal with it quite simply.
Solution: Be flexible but clear
If your managers are giving you different instructions you can deal with it a couple of ways. If you have a better relationship with one of them, approach them first and ask them for clarification. If your relationship with both is equal then get them together and ask them to clarify it together – that way no one can be confused. Maintain flexibility at all times. There may well be an outside reason the miscommunication has occurred and there is conflicting information coming at you. It definitely won’t be personal. Never take anything personally!
2016 EA of the Year is coming!
Now into its sixth year, Page Personnel’s EA of the Year Award is a competition that aims to raise awareness of and recognise the dedication and commitment of hard-working EAs around the country.
The winner who takes home the title of EA of the Year will receive return flights for two people, plus five nights of luxury accommodation to one of two mystery locations that we know this year’s applicants will go crazy over! Plus there are a heap of other great prizes to be won thanks to our sponsors!
Entry to the competition is simple, with applicants entering by completing the application form located on the Page Personnel website and explaining in a brief statement why they deserve to be titled Australia’s next EA of the Year.
“If you’re an executive or personal assistant, the Page Personnel EA of the Year Award is a fantastic opportunity to be recognised and rewarded for going above and beyond in your role,” says Fiona Moore, Associate Director of Page Personnel in Australia.
At Page Personnel, we understand the skills required by employers when hiring an EA and the many demands of the role. Not only is this award a chance to be acknowledged for going above and beyond as an EA, there is also a fantastic main prize on offer and all eligible EAs and PAs are encouraged to enter.
The competition is set to launch on Thursday 18 August, 2016 and close on Thursday 8 September, 2016. The competition will be judged by Page Personnel's panel of judges and the winners will be selected based on the merit of their submission. All prize winners will be announced on Friday 16 September, 2016.
As an EA you will face many challenges in your career, keep Linda’s advice in mind when facing these three challenges:
- Managing a big load/work-life balance – Give and take is key
- People issues, dealing with difficult people – Think of the big picture
- Dealing with ambiguity – Be flexible but clear