The Pivotal Role Of An Executive Assistant Especially During A Global Pandemic By Precious Emechebe

There is this saying that “behind every great CEO is an exceptional and committed Executive Assistant”. The Executive Assistant job has recently become a lot more complicated because asides the novel experience of working from home fully and potentially alongside family demands, you are also working your hardest to go above and beyond to provide some sense of certainty and regularity for the Executive, which of course is one of the core functions. 

But truly, this is the time for EAs to shine. Why? The Executives will need all the support they can get in this time of uncertainty. And there is perhaps no one more qualified to give this support than the EA. Proactivity and empathy are very crucial both to provide the best support possible and to show how valuable you are to the team regardless of non-physical availability. 

Adapting to the new order implies retaining the star that you are. You are pliable enough to fit in into the new ways of doing things; Putting in conscious effort to wow the Boss and other executives through courageous help and ambitious progress; Focusing on what matters and what works. You must respond to that task speedily and timely with zero or very minimal excuses. You must be a fixer.

You must set up your workstation and ensure little or no network interruptions. This implies that you must work with the best internet provider as being irresponsive may be tagged as inefficiency. EA’s must present a professional and credible image on behalf of the bosses. They are the filters that allow the executives to remain focused on priorities even in these peculiar times where physical meeting requests are minimally advised. You must work side-by-side with the executive to absorb his or her knowledge and learn how the business functions as the pandemic elongates.

Exceptional EAs are high-performing, excellent professionals who must have basic knowledge of the business such that they can operate as a seamless extension of the executive. The EAs understand that for their executive to be effective, they must take over the functions that are not a good use of the executive’s core or basic focal point. EAs never doubt what their executives want or do not want because the executive communicates to them their objectives and vision. Consequently, EAs speak on the executives behalf with confidence and authority. They also keep them protected from non-essentials or calam­ities.

During this pandemic, EA’s must take charge and accept responsibilities even more than they used to. They must get clarifications to ensure they are working within scope. All gaps must be closed without prompts.  You must forestall, anticipate, look ahead, avert crisis, resolve issues and be a problem solver. Be resourceful, using good instincts and constantly looking for ways to improve and ease the Boss.

Self-Development in relevant professional areas is also one of the very keyways to adapt in this critical time. Online courses that would widen your horizon is a good way to go. 

Exercise helps hugely. You do not want to look totally out of shape when you eventually resume physically at work. if you’re not into anything high intensity then yoga is awesome, dance exercise is fantastic, same as taking walks. Loads of videos are online to guide you. Remember you are now doing this in the comfort of your home. 

Have you considered exploring that project you’ve been set to work on, go beyond just completing your responsibilities – research possibilities, explore beyond the job on hand? You have more time, so use it to fall in love with what you do and other things you are passionate about because when you do, staying inspired is easy.

Remain proactive, not reactive. Find other ways to bring value – be the eye of the boss even at the tiniest feedback that would make a meaning to the business. Become more than an EA.  Keep your ears wide open for advice that would matter. 

Indeed, walking over to the boss’s office or the fact that you do not see yourselves daily as the case may be, may seem like your relationship with your boss is slipping away, so you need a new way to maintain that. Keep at it daily. Set up catch up online meetings where you can run through your plans and progress. It keeps you on track while making sure your interactions are still valid.

When the day hits you hard, it is so easy to just move to the sofa, switch on the TV and stare blankly at your screen waiting for the hours to tick by. Knowing how to overcome these days can be tough: There aren’t colleagues celebrating birthdays, or clients and customers interface that could take your mind away or motivate you, so you’ve got to do it for yourself. Take a break, play some music, play with the kids, get your brain moving again and then when you come back to your workstation, throw yourself into the most intense piece of that task and deliver. 

In all seriousness, the flexibility of working from home is incredible, however, it can be hard to turn off your laptop or phone sometimes when you are working from home because you really do not want slip-aways. Ensure work is not still heavy during this time otherwise it would become difficult to separate life and work when they are unified.  

Keep staying safe, think big and self-motivate.

Precious Emechebe is  the Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer of MultiChoice Nigeria, John Ugbe.

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