Earlier this year, I ran a training course for a group of Assistants that were having a bad time.

The concepts that I presented on – empowerment, self-actualisation and the role of the assistant as a strategic business partner, were so foreign to them that they couldn’t believe that in some businesses assistants were able to operate in this way. They had no recognition of the value they could bring to their business.

These were senior and seasoned EAs, working for a globally recognised and respected firm, but they were entirely reactive in their roles. There was no input, little communication and their roles were task-based.

What a waste!

Their psychometric tests showed huge emotional intelligence, creativity and flair. But nobody was using those skills and their moral was at rock bottom.

With all the publicity around World Administrators Summit, and the changes we hope to bring about in the profession, it was a stark reminder that there is still so much work to be done.

So many businesses still don’t understand that when you use your Assistant properly, it impacts directly on the bottom line.

The business pays the Assistant to ensure the Executive is operating to full capacity; filling the gaps in their skill sets, ensuring every hour of every day is fully utilised and acting as a buffer from those that would distract them from their work.

The great Jeff Hoffman, founder of Priceline.com, makes the point that if you don’t have an Assistant, then you are an Assistant. In other words, if your Executive is still doing their own calendar, emails, travel, formatting and the myriad of other things you do for them then the business is paying them their salary to do your job. And they are not using their time to do what THEY are paid to do.

OfficeTeam recently published research which said Assistants save an Executive an average of 8 hours a week. I suspect it is much higher than that. A good Assistant will free up at least 30% of their time. I know Matthew, my Assistant, does for me.

The good news is that the trend for me this year seems to be doing more and more talking to Executives in companies about how they can best utilise their Assistants. The companies where I previously went and trained the Assistants are asking me back to work with both the Executives and their Assistants to get them working together in the most efficient way for the businesses they serve. That is after all what this partnership is about, is it not?

And as World Administrators’ Summit approaches in the next few weeks, we would do well in our discussions to remember that so many Assistants are still nowhere near being recognised for the incredible resource that they are or could be to their businesses. That is what we need to address. And that is why, for the sake of the profession, for business, and for the economy, the change has got to come.

Lucy Brazier, OBE is one of the world’s leading authorities on the administrative profession. Author of ‘The Modern-Day Assistant: Build Your Influence and Boost Your Potential’, she is the CEO of Marcham Publishing, a global force synonymous with world- ... (Read More)

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