Company leaders often expect executive assistants to know what they're thinking and make their demands a reality. Yet, the wants and needs of assistants are rarely priorities when bosses rattle off long lists of instructions, impose impossible deadlines and make requests far beyond the scope of any support position. Leaders who foster two-way communication and support for executive assistants create a stable backbone that yields benefits for the entire company.
1. The Workload Is Overwhelming
Both ambitious and negligent bosses can develop the habit of piling on work without considering the complexity or time constraints of the task. Executive assistants inevitably absorb the extra responsibilities and sacrifice their own personal lives while executives take vacations and long lunches. Unfortunately, many executive assistants choose to burn out in silence rather than speak up and face the threat of being fired or labeled as poor workers.
Proactive executives eliminate this stigma by requesting status reports and prioritizing duties when assistants juggle too much work. Executives gain realistic perspectives of the time necessary to complete each task, and assistants feel less pressure to manage major problems on their own.
2. The Training Is Inadequate
Companies that support continuing education are an executive assistant's dream, as they provide the tools to stay relevant and indispensable in competitive environments. Yet, such companies remain the minority, and executive assistants struggle to find the time and finances to expand their skills, often devoting their vacation days to training courses.
Beyond the administrative and soft skills required for every position, executive assistants have to develop specialty skill sets for different employers and industries, ranging from technology to event planning. When companies invest in training, executive assistants have a shorter learning curve and can transition to advanced roles without losing productivity.
3. Upper Management Is Oblivious
Executive assistants feel deserted when company leaders are too sheltered or disconnected to take notice of serious workplace problems, but they're also reluctant to overstep boundaries by confronting their bosses. Bullying, backstabbing and demotivation overtake environments where executives fail to coach staff and enforce clear behavioral codes, and assistants have the unpleasant job of navigating countless minefields.
Executives create chaos and inconsistency when they leave workers to settle all problems and disputes on their own, while establishing companywide standards sends the message that everyone is valuable and accountable. Upper management should consult support staff at every level to understand obstacles that slow output and adapt policies as the needs of the workforce evolve.
Executive assistants form the foundations of most administrative teams, and their willingness to go where needed makes them essential to solving operational problems. Assistants gain vast exposure to different facets of a company or industry. Executives should cultivate and take advantage of their knowledge to better understand where resources and improvements are needed most in the company.
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