Good executive support is a valuable asset to a corporate office, charity, SME or entrepreneur in their working life. I am sure that you will have complimented or grumbled about support from administration or operational personnel at some point in your working life, even if you knew the problem wasn’t of their making.
You may have recognised too late when you have received excellent support from a member of your team, for example:
- your IT works well, the technician comes in every two weeks to check the system, there is hardly any down time or it is scheduled overnight
- your diary runs smoothly, you have papers ready in your bring forward file, there is built in travel time for you to get to your next meeting
- the research you asked for is completed on time for you to work it into your proposal
- there is always enough stationery and tea and coffee!
However, how many times have you appreciated your assistant for the procedures and processes she/he has set up to make everything work? You have left the office in good time for your next meeting, although you took that last phone call in your travel time! Then your taxi ended up stuck in traffic and you were 20 minutes late. Who is the first person that you grumble about or to?
Alternatively, you may have worked with an assistant who expected you to get from Marble Arch to Canada Water in the 15 minutes between one meeting finishing and the next one starting; who rarely managed to get your papers ready in good time and usually was nowhere to be seen when needed urgently. Was this something that you tackled or did you seethe in silence?
In the relationship between an assistant and the person or business that is being supported, I believe the most important two things are trust and honesty between the parties. If compliments can’t be given or issues tackled at the time, the way ahead is going to be like heading into Mordor (yes, I have watched Lord of the Rings recently!).
Have you thought about the benefits of working together with your client, building a rapport and a healthy working relationship? In the virtual support world, it is vitally important to build a relationship with your client, as you are unlikely to have the same day to day opportunities as working together in an office. While you do not have the luxury of popping into an office to quickly check something, you do need to schedule regular catch-ups and communicate well together, to make sure that the work being carried out is correct.
Skype calls work well for me when keeping clients updated, plus Holly and I have a regular Skype coffee catch up, where we keep each other updated on what is happening with our individual clients and discuss our business planning.
What measures have you in place for building a great relationship with your assistant?