Joan Burge shares her tips and strategies to help Assistants master tactical thinking
As an Executive or Administrative Assistant, it’s important to not only be organized and communicate effectively, but also to be a tactical thinker. This means anticipating the needs of your leader and company, proactively identifying and solving problems, being resourceful and adaptable, collaborating with others, thinking strategically, being flexible and adaptable, managing priorities, improving processes, having strong communication skills, paying attention to detail, and being proactive in your own development.
Being a tactical thinker can set you apart in your role and help you make a meaningful impact within your organization. Whether you are new to the Executive or Administrative Assistant role or have been in it for some time, these tips and strategies can help you sharpen your skills and excel in your position.
How to Demonstrate Tactical Thinking Skills in the Workplace:
1. Anticipate the needs of your boss and the company
This might involve staying up-to-date on industry news and trends and suggesting new ideas or strategies that align with the company’s goals. For example, if you notice that a new product launch is coming up and your boss is swamped with other tasks, you might suggest organizing a team meeting to delegate tasks and ensure that everything is on track.
2. Proactively identify and solve problems
This might involve analyzing data or trends to identify potential issues and coming up with solutions before they become a problem. For example, if you notice that your boss’s schedule is consistently double booked, you might suggest implementing a new scheduling system to prevent conflicts in the future.
3. Be resourceful and adaptable
This might mean finding new and creative ways to streamline processes or finding alternative solutions when faced with unexpected challenges. For example, if you’re working on a tight deadline and a key team member is out sick, you might need to think on your feet and come up with a plan to keep the project moving forward. This might involve reaching out to other team members for assistance or finding a way to delegate tasks in order to meet the deadline.
4. Collaborate with others
Being a tactical thinker often involves working well with others and being able to communicate effectively with your boss and colleagues. This might mean facilitating meetings, coordinating with other departments, or providing support and guidance to team members.
5. Think strategically
In addition to being reactive and solving problems as they arise, it’s also important for Executive and Administrative Assistants to be able to think strategically and plan for the future. This might involve analyzing data and trends to make informed decisions or coming up with long-term solutions that will benefit the company overall.
6. Be proactive
Another key aspect of being a tactical thinker is being proactive and anticipating the needs of your boss and the company. This might involve keeping an eye out for potential issues and finding ways to prevent them from becoming a problem or suggesting new ideas and strategies that align with the company’s goals.
7. Be flexible and adaptable
Being a tactical thinker also involves being flexible and adaptable to new situations and challenges as they arise. This might mean finding new and creative solutions to problems or being able to quickly pivot and change course as needed.
8. Manage priorities
As an Executive or Administrative Assistant, it’s important to be able to prioritize tasks and manage your time effectively. This might involve working with your boss to identify the most important tasks and projects and coming up with a plan to ensure that they are completed in a timely manner.
9. Improve processes
Being a tactical thinker also involves being able to identify areas where processes can be improved and coming up with solutions to streamline and optimize them. This might involve analyzing data or trends to identify inefficiencies and suggesting new tools or technologies that could improve productivity.
10. Sharpen your communication skills
Being a tactical thinker often involves being able to communicate effectively with your boss and colleagues. This might involve facilitating meetings, providing support and guidance to team members, or communicating updates and progress on projects.
11. Pay attention to detail
Another key aspect of being a tactical thinker is paying attention to detail and ensuring that all tasks and projects are completed accurately and efficiently. This might involve double-checking work, following up with team members to ensure that tasks are completed on time, or identifying and correcting any errors that might arise.
12. Improve your time management skills
Being a tactical thinker also requires strong time management skills, as it’s important to be able to prioritize tasks and ensure that everything is completed in a timely manner. This might involve creating a schedule or to-do list, setting deadlines, and staying organized to keep track of tasks and progress.
Overall, being a tactical thinker requires a combination of proactive problem-solving, resourcefulness, adaptability, collaboration, and strategic thinking. By demonstrating these skills in the workplace, Executive and Administrative Assistants can make a valuable contribution to the success of their organization.
Here are two scenarios that illustrate how an Executive or Administrative Assistant might demonstrate their tactical thinking skills in the workplace:
As the Executive Assistant to the CEO of a large retail company, you’ve noticed that the company’s sales have been declining over the past few months. You decide to conduct some research to try and identify the cause of the decline. After analyzing data and trends, you discover that the company has been losing market share to a new competitor who has been offering lower prices and more convenient delivery options.
To address this issue, you decide to convene a team meeting with the CEO and other key stakeholders to discuss potential solutions. You suggest that the company consider offering free or discounted shipping to customers, as well as introducing new products or services that the competitor doesn’t offer. The CEO agrees with your suggestions and decides to implement them, resulting in a significant increase in sales.
As the Administrative Assistant to the president of a nonprofit organization, you’ve noticed that the organization has been struggling to attract new donors. You decide to do some research to try and identify the cause of the problem. After analyzing data and trends, you discover that the organization’s website is outdated and not user-friendly, which is causing potential donors to lose interest.
To address this issue, you propose a plan to redesign the website and make it more visually appealing and easy to navigate. You also suggest implementing a new donation system that makes it easier for potential donors to contribute. The president agrees with your suggestions and decides to allocate funds for the redesign and new donation system. As a result, the organization sees a significant increase in donations and is able to better serve its mission.
One way to continue sharpening your tactical thinking skills is to stay up-to-date on industry news and trends and be open to learning new things. This might involve taking courses or attending professional development workshops or simply staying informed about what’s happening in your field. You can also try to get involved in projects or tasks that challenge you and require you to think creatively. By constantly striving to learn and grow, you can position yourself as a valuable asset to your team and organization.
It’s also important to remember that being a tactical thinker doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers or solve every problem on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek out guidance when you need it. Collaborating with others and working as a team can often lead to better solutions and outcomes.
Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. Sometimes the best solutions come from thinking outside the box and being open to new ideas. As an Executive or Administrative Assistant, you are in a unique position to make a real difference in your organization. By demonstrating your tactical thinking skills and being proactive in your own development, you can contribute to the success of your team and company in meaningful ways.