An effective assistant is the backbone of any organization and is more than just a glorified filing cabinet: They should be organized, proactive, and communicative. Let’s break down what makes the perfect assistant so you can bring the best people for your company on board.
An effective assistant works well under pressure and can find creative solutions when unforeseen challenges enter their work environment. Effective assistants maintain their composure and a positive demeanor in the face of change. They learn from setbacks; rather than getting frustrated or giving up, they remain calm and persevere until an issue is resolved—or at least until another solution presents itself!
This is the most important skill for any assistant to have. An organized assistant can make your life easier, while an unorganized one will just make you crazy. High-level organizers are able to balance conflicting priorities in order to manage workflow, ensure the completion of essential projects, and meet critical deadlines.
An effective assistant is proactive, not reactive. A proactive assistant does what needs to be done when needed instead of waiting for someone else (like their boss) to tell them what needs to be done next. Proactive assistants know enough about their job function and business goals to make informed decisions on how best to solve problems without waiting until someone tells them what should be done first; after all, who knows better than an expert?
The ability to listen, articulate thoughts and ideas clearly, and communicate with confidence using clear, concise language is essential for top assistants. Your assistant will be working in many different situations—some formal, some informal—and must be able to adapt accordingly. In addition to listening skills for understanding what is being said at face value (including nonverbal cues), an effective assistant can think on his/her feet by anticipating questions or requests during a conversation before they’ve even been made.
A great assistant will be able to interact with clients and associates as though they are an extension of you. To ensure that your assistant is giving you the best possible client service, have them shadow or experience your service offerings as if he or she IS the client. This will help your assistant understand how to handle your clients’ needs at a high level and even anticipate what your clients may need so they don’t have to wait for a request before providing great service.
Effective assistants understand fundamental business concepts and the overall industry in which your company operates, so he or she can protect your assets and hone key systems and processes. Great assistants also have a good understanding of your competitors and how they operate and how to position your company as the superior choice.
An effective assistant will work as a competent member of the team and willingly and proactively provide back‐up support for team members when needed. Your assistant should also be actively supporting group goals and pushing the organization forward with his or her unique skills.
An effective assistant is a resourceful person with an eye for technology and a knack for solving problems. He or she is confident in using office equipment like printers, scanners, copiers, and fax machines, and is always looking for new ways to improve the way things are done at work by adopting new technologies as they become available.
Effective assistants own the ability to make competent decisions in the absence of direction. In addition to being able to solve problems as they arise, a great assistant makes sure that issues are referred to the appropriate person(s) when necessary and works effectively without constant and direct supervision or guidance from you (or any other managers).
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to be an excellent assistant. The most important thing is that your assistant enjoys the work and feels fulfilled by it. As long as that’s true, everything else will fall into place!