As executives, you already know that in today’s high-pressure corporate environment, achieving a healthy work-life balance often seems like an elusive goal. Your days feel like they must be lacking hours, and your list of goals and objectives expands every week. You make sacrifices, either at home or at work (or both), and you feel as if it’s impossible to regain balance and embrace the tenets of a well-rounded and high-achieving professional. Here’s an insider secret: With the right strategies and a supportive executive assistant by your side, it is indeed possible. Joan Burge, renowned as the pioneer of the administrative training industry and co-author of The Executive’s Competitive Edge, provides valuable insights on how executives can harness the power of their executive assistants to maintain a sustainable work-life balance.
The role of executive assistants has evolved significantly over the years, transitioning from traditional administrative tasks to increasingly strategic responsibilities that significantly impact organizational success. Savvy executives who have come to understand the critical role an administrative assistant can play know that having a strategic partner by their side can play a crucial role in achieving work-life balance for executives.
This balance is not about segregating work and personal life into separate, non-overlapping compartments, but rather about integrating them in a way that enhances overall quality of life. A skilled executive assistant can facilitate this integration by managing an executive’s time effectively, prioritizing tasks, and handling non-critical responsibilities that might otherwise consume unnecessary effort and time.
In this blog, we will delve deeper into specific strategies you can utilize, in partnership with your executive assistant, to achieve a healthier work-life balance. We’ll explore topics including effective delegation, strategic scheduling, and the importance of open communication, all of which can contribute to a more balanced and fulfilling professional and personal life.
How Your Executive Assistant Can Promote Your Work-Life Balance
Your executive assistant can help manage your professional responsibilities, enabling you to focus on strategic tasks, personal development, and well-deserved downtime. Here’s how:
- Time management and prioritization: Top-tier executive assistants excel in organizing and managing schedules. They can see opportunities and red flags on your calendar better than you can. They can help you prioritize tasks, ensuring that your time is spent on the most valuable activities.
- Delegation: Handing off tasks and projects to your strategic partner will save you time and stress. By delegating administrative tasks to your executive assistant, you can free up time for higher-level responsibilities or personal pursuits.
- Proactivity: Stellar executive assistants can anticipate your needs, allowing you to react more quickly and efficiently to any arising challenges. Through their proactivity you’re allowed to get your mind out of the minutia and apply your efforts elsewhere.
- Boundary setting: A skilled executive assistant can help manage your communications, scheduling, and availability, assisting in setting boundaries that protect your personal time. If that’s something you struggle with, you may find that passing that task onto your executive assistant relieves you of a burden. Too, they can establish and maintain boundaries on your behalf in respectful and creative ways.
Building a Productive Relationship With Your Executive Assistant
An executive and their assistant can get to this next level of strategic partnership through intention, hard work, and taking the time to build a meaningful working relationship. To ensure a successful partnership is created, it’s important to set clear expectations from the get-go. Make sure you and your executive assistant share an understanding of roles, responsibilities, and objectives. Establish open channels of communication so that your assistant can bring up any questions or concerns they may have about their tasks. To fully leverage the benefits an executive assistant can bring, it’s crucial to cultivate a strong, mutually beneficial relationship. Here are some best practices:
- Open communication: Regularly share your goals, challenges, and expectations with your assistant. Encourage them to do the same. Establishing a relationship where thoughts, ideas, and issues can be shared freely will go a long way towards deepening your partnership. Open dialogue fosters understanding and synergy.
- Flexibility: Develop a culture of open feedback and collaboration. Think outside the box and don’t allow yourself to be tied down by the way things have always been done. Encouraging flexibility will enable your executive assistant to be more creative and proactive in their efforts.
- Trust and empowerment: Trust your assistant with important tasks and empower them to make decisions. This is a critical step towards creating a strategic partnership. This not only boosts their confidence but also enables them to provide more effective support.
- Autonomy: Provide your assistant with the autonomy to take ownership of their work. No one likes a babysitter, including your assistant. They want to see that you believe they are capable of accomplishing great things without constant oversight. Providing them autonomy will help them better understand how their efforts contribute to the success of the company, as well as your own personal goals.
- Recognition and appreciation: Don’t forget to celebrate key wins and promote and applaud hard work, innovative thinking, and problem-solving. Acknowledge your assistant’s contributions and show appreciation often. This promotes job satisfaction and motivation, leading to better performance.
Evolving the Executive-Assistant Partnership
As the executive assistant role continues to evolve in almost every industry, more and more responsibilities are being shifted to the strategic level. This is a positive change. By embracing these changes, you can create an environment where your executive assistant is not only a support to you but a strong partner in achieving success for both you and the organization. A strong executive-assistant partnership can significantly contribute to your professional and personal endeavors, allowing you to focus your priorities, expand your role, and achieve your personal mission and vision. Here’s how:
- Alignment of goals: Clearly define objectives, priorities, and strategies so that both you and your executive assistant are working toward the same goals.
- Proactive planning: By collaborating with one another, you and your assistant can anticipate challenges and plan for contingencies in advance.
- Continuous improvement of processes: Together, identify ways to improve existing processes to streamline workflow and increase efficiency.
- Strategic involvement: Involve your assistant in meetings, projects, and decision-making processes. Their unique perspective and skills can add value and drive innovation.
- Professional development: Invest in your assistant’s professional growth. This not only enhances their capabilities but also demonstrates your commitment to their career progression.
- Collaborative culture: Promote a culture of collaboration and mutual respect. This not only strengthens your partnership with your assistant but also sets a positive example for your team.
Your executive assistant can be a powerful ally in your quest for work-life balance. By fostering a productive relationship and evolving it strategically, you can achieve not only personal well-being but also drive collective growth within your organization. As this role continues to evolve, it’s important for executives to recognize and embrace the invaluable strategic support executive assistants can provide, transforming the traditional perception of this role into one of a critical business ally.
At Office Dynamics, we understand the importance of balance and growth. Our expert resources and professional development programs are designed to help executives and administrative assistants alike hone their skills, enhance their productivity, and achieve greater success in their roles. If you’re hungry for more, consider expanding your professional library. Written by executives Joan Burge and James Bristow The Executive’s Competitive Edge: Why You Need to Leverage the Talents & Time of an Executive Assistant helps leaders understand how to utilize the power of their executive assistants. It offers a wealth of information designed to help executives and their assistants unlock their full potential and gain a competitive edge in today’s dynamic business landscape. They artfully blend best practices with new-world techniques, outlining, in great detail, how executives can best approach the critical relationship they must establish with their assistants. A must-read for every executive, leader, and business owner, this robust yet approachable book explains the vital role executive assistants play in the modern business world, demonstrating their exponential impact on their executive’s productivity. Loaded with one incredible takeaway after another, business leaders will find this book acts as a critical guide, providing them with the tools and advice they need to find new levels of success. Learn more and get your copy today! Here’s to your success and the continued growth of your dynamic team.