An executive assistant provides professional assistance to the organization’s top-level executives. The assistant is often trusted with complex duties and responsibilities that they can execute in person or remotely. Typically, the assistant’s work is to ensure the smooth running of the office by acting as a point of contact between the top-level managers and other internal and external contacts. Apart from the everyday administrative work, this article will also explore other unofficial duties that an executive assistant can help with:
Most common executive assistant duties
One of the critical responsibilities of an executive assistant is managing the boss’s schedule. In a typical work environment, the managers need a functional daily routine that ensures tasks are accomplished on time. The assistant ensures they create a routine that gets work done while maintaining a healthy work-life balance for the boss. Scheduling includes organizing productive meetings and keeping them within a specific time. The less productive meetings can be replaced with messaging systems such as Slack. An ideal assistant also stays up-to-date on weather and traffic to enable them to adapt to changes when going for an offsite meeting if there are delays
Making travel plans and travel itineraries
Top-level executives don’t usually have sufficient time to plan. If the executives are traveling out of town for official duties, the executive assistant will make all travel arrangements and other detailed travel itineraries for the bosses. Making travel plans for an executive needs thorough planning to ensure everything goes smoothly. The assistant should first gather enough information about the boss’s destinations, schedule, and travel preferences. Afterward, the assistant makes reservations and buys tickets. They should also ensure the executive is well prepared for the trip and any unexpected changes in the travel plans if some arises. A skilled assistant makes a thorough travel checklist that ensures every important detail is not left out
Maintaining an office set up that optimizes workflow
Another critical duty of an Executive Assistant is to clean up and organize the office at the close of business each day. The assistant may work with other support staff to clean the office, organize files, and put every item in place. The assistant may also have to refill office supplies such as stationery or the items in the fridge.
Handling correspondence directed to executives
An executive assistant manages the communication flow between the executive and other contacts within the organization and outside. The assistant organizes emails according to their urgency or importance. The urgent emails need a reply and should receive the utmost attention. The assistant ensures the emails get a response before the close of business. The less urgent emails can be replied after more significant priorities have been dealt with. Some emails need to follow-ups and those with tasks that must be done. The assistant ensures he or she sets due dates for these emails as well.
Recording minutes in meetings
A skilled executive assistant boast of accurate minute-taking skills. Minutes in a meeting serve as a permanent record of what was discussed and the actions to be taken. It is the duty of the assistant to capture every important detail of the meeting, including who must take what actions and when to be taken. It is quite easy for one to get lost in the conversation verbatim.
Consequently, the assistant should just type the decisions, assignments, and action steps. If they cannot keep up with note-taking, they can opt to record the meeting using an ideal recording device. A recording can come in handy when clarification is a need. After the meeting, the assistant writes a fair copy and files it to wait for reading and confirmation in the next meeting. Other essential duties and responsibilities of an executive assistant include:
How to prioritize your own EA’s duties: what duties your executive assistant should handle first
Top priority must be given to urgent and important tasks when it comes to choosing which tasks your executive assistant should do first. Prioritize tasks into the following tiers:
- First priority tier tasks- the top priority tasks refer to both the urgent and important duties that need to be accomplished immediately. Under this tier, it is important to further differentiate between the urgent from the important tasks for prudent time management. The important tasks must be accomplished first before the urgent ones
- The second priority tier- these are tasks that are important but less urgent. Ensure the assistant does these tasks the same day to reduce the number of urgent and important tasks
- The third tier tasks- these are the tasks that are urgent but not important. Don’t ignore the tasks in this tier because they will eventually become both urgent and important
- The last tier tasks- this tier is a preserve for the tasks that are neither urgent nor important. You should label them as tasks to should not be forgotten. Such tasks can be carried over to the next day.
Less common duties of executive assistants
- Heading miscellaneous groups and committees, for example, the committee in charge of office fun and social events
- Managing employee appreciation initiatives. The assistant identify and shops giveaways for people within the organization
- Finding fun things and places for executives to do while on official trips
- Provide support as needed by executives, whether in business or personal capacity. For example, some executives are the executive’s unofficial therapist.
Common remote responsibilities
- Manage a contact list and respond to emails and phone calls
- Schedule meetings for the executives
- Book travels and accommodation for the managers
- Organize the executive’s meetings
- Prepare client spreadsheets and keep online records.
Common in-person responsibilities
- Producing reports, financial statements, memos, invoice letters, and other documents when needed
- Maintaining a modern filing and database systems for corporate records, documents, and reports
- Handling basic bookkeeping tasks
- Researching and analyzing data when preparing documents for presentations by the executives
- Reading and analyzing incoming submissions, memos and distributing them to the suitable officeholders.
Having a committed and professional assistant can be the difference between a great and an excellent company. In essence, an executive assistant’s day involves many activities geared to make the office routine run smoothly. These supportive tasks ensure that the company leadership is productive and that everything is done in time, which contributes to the company’s success. In a nutshell, the ideal assistant should possess high organizational and relevant communication skills.