A good personal assistant (PA or EA) plays an important role in running a corporation. A great personal assistant, however, plays an indispensable role, is nearly impossible to replace, and commands a top salary. If you feel it’s time to elevate your professional worth, these suggestions will get you started.
How to Become a Great Personal Assistant
- Set a Goal for Greatness. Greatness, as it pertains to personal assistants, means becoming the boss’s most valuable and indispensable work resource. Learn his or her likes and dislikes, management style, and work habits. Becoming great goes beyond following a detailed task list. It involves anticipating the next move. It involves taking initiative. It involves knowing detailed preferences and always being ready to deliver exactly what is needed.
- Know the Business and the Boss’s Role in the Business. Good personal assistants understand, in detail, their boss’s numerous tasks. A great personal assistant understands how these tasks fit into the overall scope of the business, and is able to communicate with senior executives in all areas of his or her boss’s work.
- Become an Expert in Communication. Great personal assistants speak and write clearly and present critical information concisely. Great personal assistants listen carefully. They ask pertinent questions. They interpret body language. They truly seek to understand their task, their role, and their responsibility. Here are some great ways to help you work on these skills.
- Keep Your Boss Informed. The most critical aspect of expert communication is making sure your boss knows things first. If something bad is about to happen, he or she better not learn about it from an employee, a client, or a newspaper article. And nobody wants to look ill-informed in the middle of an important meeting. As a personal assistant, you must ensure that there are no surprises.
- Own your mistakes. Even the best personal assistants – as well as the best CEOs – make mistakes. You cannot become a great personal assistant if you make excuses for your mistakes instead of amends. When a mistake is made, great personal assistants start with an apology and put in place necessary steps to make sure a similar mistake does not happen again. The great ones take these moments, learn from them, and become better.
- Keep Your Calendars in Sync. A great personal assistant is aware of his or her boss’s personal calendar as well as his or her work calendar. Becoming an indispensable part of the executive team means knowing exactly when your boss is available, and scheduling accordingly.
- Always be Prepared. A dull pencil is better than a sharp mind. You should always have a way to write things down. Carry a pen and paper or an electronic note-taking device with you everywhere you go. This mode of preparation not only helps you do your job more efficiently, you can also write down ways you can improve.
- Update Your Skills. You cannot become great or maintain greatness if you’re not willing to continue to learn. Always look for ways to update skills or learn new ones. A great learning resource can be your boss. Ask him or her what you can do to take some of the pressure off. People will take note of your enthusiasm and willingness to learn. It’s also worthwhile attending relevant industry events so you can network and learn from others in your field.
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