Understanding the Importance of a Powerful Partnership for Executives and their Administrators!

What does a powerful partnership between executive and administrator mean? A powerful partnership is one in which the admin and the executive establish mutual respect and trust and their goals are in alignment. In a successful partnership, the executive has empowered his/her administrator and supports their decisions within their role, knowing they will celebrate successes and overcome challenges as a synergistic team.

This sounds perfect, right? The question is, how to get there!

In a survey done by Rhonda Scharf, president of On the Right Track, she found that more than 50% of administrative professionals feel like their company is not utilizing their skills effectively. According to anarticle in the Harvard Business Review written by Melba J Duncan, a professional recruiter placing top-level executive administrators, senior leaders often have trouble delegating and don’t communicate effectively with their assistants.

The first step to forging a powerful partnership between an executive and their administrator is to establish open and honest communication. As an admin, do you know what your boss’ key objectives are? Executives, does your admin know what are the most urgent priorities for you to accomplish? By sitting down and discussing goals and timelines, this provides the “keeper of the calendar” the ability to thoughtfully address meeting requests and allows for more effective support for the executive.

Delegation is another key element to ensuring that a powerful partnership is sustainable. As an executive, it can be a challenge to let go or delegate certain tasks and/or projects. However, one of the key teachings we share with MPS clients is; “you will never get it all done alone!” You have an extremely valuable asset available to provide the needed assistance and, according to the previously mentioned survey, is probably not being used to their full potential. Your admin was chosen to be on your team because of their capabilities and skills, so by not effectively utilizing them, you both are at a disservice. Letting go is hard, but it’s necessary so that you can focus on the most important things to support your goals and your “partner” can focus on the rest! Empowering your administrator to make decisions, speak up, and be your right-hand man or woman will free up your time and give you the support you need to drive your objectives effectively. If you’re nervous about delegating and things slipping through the cracks, consider investing in a Take Back Your Life!® 1:1 for Executives. We’ll share ways to effectively manage task delegation using Microsoft Outlook that will make you feel more confident and on top of deadlines.

Administrators also have a role to play in creating a powerful partnership. They can, and should, manage up. According to an article in Talent and Management HR, managing up is “the process of teaching your boss how to manage you; effectively managing your relationship.” We know that administrators aren’t feeling fully utilized in their roles, and we also know that the executive plays a role in this, but administrative professionals need to step up. Have you clearly communicated your capabilities and skills to your executive? By only responding to direct requests and by developing a cycle of reacting/recovering to 911’s, there is less of a sense of control which can lead to feelings of stress, overwhelm and even resentment.

When administrators practice managing up, they are taking charge of their role and can effectively assist their manager to be productive while successfully executing on their target objectives. By being proactive, setting boundaries, discussing priorities and anticipating needs, an administrator can flourish into an invaluable asset in their role.

When an executive and their administrator have formed a powerful partnership, they are unstoppable. Melba J Duncan references Trudy Vitti in her article, the EA to CEO Kevin Roberts of Saatchi & Saatchi. When someone asks Roberts a question, his response is often “Ask Trudy”, because the partnership they have created makes Trudy his right-hand person, someone he trusts to act on his behalf and run the office in his absence.

In the early 2000’s, McGhee Productivity Solutions’ (MPS) founder and CEO, Sally McGhee, hired an executive assistant, Jennifer Wilmoth. They created such a powerful partnership, that Jennifer has moved from being Sally’s executive assistant over the years, to being on McGhee Productivity Solutions’ leadership team. Wilmoth attributes much of her success to learning to develop a powerful partnership with her executive, Sally McGhee. Today, one of her favorite programs to facilitate is our Take Back Your Life!® 1:1 – Powerful Partnership experience: helping executives and their administrative professional find that level of cooperation to achieve their mutual goals.

FYI: As of April 1, 2018, Take Back Your Life!® training has been accredited for the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP).  If you are a member of IAAP, you can receive up 1-hr of CEUs for each hour of the course. Contact us for details!