Kickstarting your career as an assistant? Here is a quick list of actions you can take to scaffold a rewarding experience from the start.
Tip #1 - Have a Game Plan
It will improve your joy and commitment to your role. Take time to understand yourself and why you are in that role. Think about what you expect to accomplish, offer, develop, and learn from that position and its supporting ecosystem. Establish a timeline for when you hope to accomplish each goal, and perhaps, in the long run, switch to a higher position.
The mind is calmer, engaged and focused when your trajectory is well-organized and you have a game plan in place. You will tend to focus more on your work and produce quality output. Planning will boost your confidence in your progression as you will be fully aware that the role you are currently in is not an endless loop. When the time strikes, you are moving forward; your experience, lessons learned and fulfilled goals in tow.
Tip #2 - Know You
And if you must take a personality test. Understanding your strengths, limits, character traits, likes and dislikes will give you an edge when navigating the workspace. Don't spend time sticking with outdated norms that don't work for you. If you want to shine and put your best foot forward, find out what propels you to excel and produce quality work.
Are you more productive at night or in the morning? Does the phone distract you or you can multitask? What spaces make you more at ease, focused and productive? Do you need power naps so you wake up in BeastMode efficiency? Make decisions that set you up to be a great executor who delivers exceptional results. Doing that might mean confidently transitioning away from some societal norms. So, if napping is your secret weapon then please, by all means.
Tip #3 - KYC - Know your Client (Manager)
This is one of the big ones to staying relevant and making a lasting impression.
As a leader, very few things beat having an assistant who knows you. So take time to learn your client or manager. Ask questions and be observant about their management style, what priorities they have, and how they like to structure their work and time. Understand their language and ways of communicating requests, gratitude, joy, frustration or urgency.
When my previous manager wanted something prioritized, they would just casually mention it a few times at different points during the day. It was easy for me to assume that this was just light office banter, but I quickly understood that when this happened it meant something was now a priority and they were deeply pondering about it. Every time it occurred, that was my cue to put everything else on hold—even what they had declared to be a priority the day before—and get to work on the new task, pronto. Knowing that helped me to establish a solid rhythm with my manager and to be on my A-game with my deliverables.
"So, if napping is your secret weapon then please, by all means."
Tip #4 - Understand the Work
Now that you know you and your manager better, it's time to soak in the why? of the work. There is sturdy assuredness and commitment when you can genuinely answer the why? of what you are doing and understand the big picture of what the department/organization is envisioning.
Grasping the why? of your ecosystem will help you anticipate needs, making work that much smoother and easier for both you and your manager. Your mindset shifts and your work becomes less about just doing as told and increasingly about making a lasting contribution toward the end goal. Additionally, your productivity and ability to prioritize tasks by urgency and importance will skyrocket.
Closing deliverables when cognisant of the endpoint is more satisfying and makes coherent sense than performing tasks where you are clueless about the rationale or ultimate goal. So take time to understand why?
Tip #5 - Execute! Excellently
Be all in and deliver. The time to relax and play will come so when it's time to work, put your head down and do just that. Work! Getting by on the bare minimum will ultimately fall against you in future because it stifles your growth and industry credibility.
Whenever you perform a task, put your best foot forward. Aim to produce work that is flawless and requires little to no edification. Excellence is an ongoing journey, so keep striving toward it and let it reflect in your work.
Your efforts contribute to a larger vision, and they will either move others forward or bring them added stress to fix, redo or formulate alternatives to your work. Aim for the former, to always nudge your manager, team and clients forward; closer to realizing their goals.
The more you deliver, the more people around you will respect you, consider your line of thinking, and entrust you with meaningful responsibilities.
Choose to lead a forward-thinking assistant's journey and create positive lasting impressions. They will benefit you in the long run.
The Secret C-Suiter ©