In both our own business and our clients’ businesses, u&u sees the power and benefits that an effective EA-Manager relationship is able to have on a business.
The common denominator is often when the working relationship is built on a solid foundation from the beginning, with a right-hand man or woman adding tremendous value. CEO of Potential Unlimited, Carey-Ann Oestreicher defines the EA as “someone to help you free up more time to be strategic and coach your people”. In order to do this though, a manager needs to utilise their new or existing wingperson to the full; to not could be wasting an opportunity to maximise everyone’s time and their EA’s full potential. Carey-Ann goes on to explain in more detail in How to Best Utilise Your Executive Assistant.
So, how do you create an amazing EA-Manager partnership? We interviewed our very own Managing Director, Craig Sneesby, and his EA, Kimberley Melville. Craig and Kim have worked together for over five years now and they share some great insights into how they have carved out their success.
Craig, what are your top tips for working well with your EA?
Don’t under- or over-sell the role during the interview process and be open about both the good and the bad aspects of the role; the foundation of a partnership is honesty. Communicate clearly. Set deadlines. Give feedback (both good and bad so you can grow). Make sure you both get along and invest time in developing the relationship. Don’t be strangers. Catch up frequently.
How have you and Kim set yourselves up for success in your working partnership?
Right from the beginning, I have always made my expectations very clear (haha). I give feedback if we are off-track and praise for a great result. Longevity is then a massive contributor to our success. The longer we work together, the more of a partnership it becomes.
What management style do you feel is most effective when working with your EA?
Working as a team is the only way. There is no way I can get my job done effectively without Kim. There are so many days where I actually view her as my boss!
Kim, do you feel that managing up is a technique useful for EAs?
Absolutely – it’s essential. As an Executive Assistant, our job is to help our boss do their job. We have to learn how to anticipate and read the moment. Executive Assistants need to know what their executive has to do, what has to be completed, what goals need to be achieved and what the deadlines are… every day! Assistants who are terrific at what they do are often very collaborative and communicate clearly, and understand the business inside-out and the motivations of their boss. My role is to put out fires, fill the gaps, anticipate Craig’s needs so I can be one step ahead, and make a decision based on those needs. I need to understand the politics of a situation, and how the business functions as a whole. I am expected to know exactly what Craig is thinking and why. (Sometimes, it feels like I am Craig’s business partner!) While Craig and I try to emphasise spending time together to achieve a strong business relationship, sometimes, life gets in the way. One of the ways I get my job done effectively, particularly if I can’t speak directly with Craig on a given day, is to stay close to his daily to-do list. That way, I can understand what’s on his mind when he is away from his desk and we can’t catch up. I also find managing Craig’s calendar and inbox important, so I can take those things off his plate in answering emails and setting up meetings with a clear oversight of the business’ needs.
Have you come up with any innovative ideas in order to assist with the day-to-day responsibilities of your role?
The key to being innovative is being knowledgeable about your job and your workplace. You stand a far better chance of being able to find better ways of doing things and coming up with creative solutions if you can see how functions and processes inter-relate and work together as a whole! In my role as an Executive Assistant, the most effective (and actually so simple!) way I ensure I achieve my day-to-day responsibilities is building a daily to-do list. This list has everything I need to know on it! I can’t afford to ‘forget’ what Craig asks me to do. In addition to this, I use my calendar if I need to remind Craig of something in a few months’ time. A to-do seems simple, but you’d be surprised how many people try to operate without one!
If you are looking for a right-hand person to partner with you to achieve great things, or if you are an EA who would like to network with other EAs to learn more about your role and opportunities, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our u&u Business Support team.