Senior level Executive Assistants and Administrative Assistants are often asked to train newer, less experienced Assistants coming into an organization or moving into a new role in an organization from within. It may be a formal request from the Assistant’s direct report or human resources, or an informal process initiated by either the newer admin or the more experienced admin. Either way, learning from someone who has been in a similar role is one of the most effective ways to learn how to become a better administrative business partner.
Every Admin possesses the skills they need to excel in their current role. Yet, changing roles to work with a new or higher-level Executive can cause feelings of anxiety around whether they can “handle” the new role. I urge every Admin to be confident in the value they bring to the table. You wouldn’t have this opportunity if the organization didn’t believe in you. It is important to recognize this and believe in yourself.
This is where the experience of another Admin or EA who is in the role can be extremely helpful as a teacher. When I was a Senior EA, I looked forward to opportunities to share my knowledge and expertise with other Admins. When we support and coach each other, we enhance our skills, we grow, and we can make an even greater contribution to our organization. We are stronger together and forming these bonds enables us to back each other up and problem-solve together to find better solutions and achieve goals. It also elevates and secures our position as partners with our organization’s leaders.
Once an Admin has learned skills to be successful as a business partner, they can develop other Admins by sharing their “go to” strategies and actions to help newer Admins get up to speed more quickly. Often times, the skills newer Admins can benefit from learning are soft skills versus hard / technical skills the Admin is likely already proficient in. Senior leadership is looking for Admins that are organized and proactive and have the ability to manage competing priorities and take a leadership role to create action plans and achieve goals in an efficient manner.
One effective way to onboard new Admins is to create an agenda and schedule one-on-one meetings with the other Admins and leadership team members she would be working with on a daily and consistent basis. This provides the opportunity for the Admin to meet fact-to-face (or via Zoom) and talk with the key players she would be interacting with. This focused introduction provides the opportunity to begin engaging with other team members and to get a feel for their personalities, priorities, and working style which are important factors for building and supporting business partnerships and relationships within departments and the organization.
For next steps, I recommend the newer Admin “shadow” the more experienced Admin to see them in action, and handling business in real-time. If the onboarding is virtual, a session between the Admins could be scheduled via Zoom to address the daily workflow and share examples of a typical day and the regular tasks and situations the Admin will be expected to handle. The goal for the Admin who wants to develop into a business partner is to get in synch with the leadership team member they support by creating a seamless flow of shared information that keeps her leader informed, current, and responsive in order to meet critical priorities. The best business partners know what needs to happen next to help move her leader partner through each day being prepared and to keep them up-to-date regarding any changes to current or future meetings and engagements. It’s a tall order for sure, yet with confidence and commitment, you can do this!
I believe in quick daily (preferably morning) meetings between the Admin and her leader partner to review the day and update the status of any pending items. These meetings can be done in-person, via Zoom, email, or chat. If daily touchbases are not possible, schedule weekly meetings. Do your best to keep these meetings on the calendar. Most Admins have experienced their meetings being “bumped” due to other priorities that arise. Adaptability and flexibility are important traits Admins need to have so when this happens, reschedule but do not cancel.
Assertiveness and integrity are important traits too and these meetings are important to keeping your partner on track. In your role as a business partner, you will find that accountability for both Admin and partner is necessary and valued.
In summary, those who are already Administrative Business Partners know the role inside out and their ability to coach and develop other Admins to reach this level with their guidance is very special. Take the time to share what you know with newer Admins and mentor them, not only in the soft skills that will help them succeed, but also share your pride and passion about how you do your job so they can follow your lead and be the best they can be and use the talent they already have with confidence and stretch it to grow into a true Business Partner too.
Lisa Assetta, Founder and Owner, Office Assistance Plus. Lisa Assetta is a career executive administrative professional turned online blogger and business owner during the 2020 pandemic when she launched her online company Office Assistance Plus. Lisa has worked in a variety of executive assistant, administrative support and customer service roles with chief executive officers, senior executives, and business owners in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, publishing, restaurants, and aviation. Her life-long passion for peace and her desire to support, mentor, and inspire others led her to launch a blog during the COVID-19 pandemic with the mission to share her expertise and help professionals adapt and thrive at working from home.