Training Your Executive Assistant Effectively

The Executive Assistant (EA) is one of the most under-utilized personnel in the company. While most other employees have special training for their position, many executive assistants are left figuring out what and how to do their functions. This is unfortunate because an effective executive assistant could greatly increase a manager’s productivity.
The tasks which an executive assistant is expected to do vary widely on the inclination of the boss and the size of company. The smaller the business, the more the number of tasks may be assigned. To be able to maximize the potential of an executive assistant, there should be basic training in the following areas:
1. Personality development. A good executive assistant is expected to have well-polished social skills—starting from the right manner of dressing, grooming and personal hygiene to knowing the right procedures in greeting and interacting with people. This is a skill that must be constantly honed.
2. Technology skills. Being able to use the standard MS Office software or some other similar software and basic office equipment like fax and photocopying machine is essential. But to really stand out, it would be highly advantageous for the EA to also have computer troubleshooting skills, especially for companies that do not have an IT staff.
3 . Records and filing management. An executive assistant must know how to organize and label files. Records must be kept properly and quickly accessible when needed. Knowing how long you must keep a type of document is critical to this function.
4. Bookkeeping. For many small- to middle-sized companies, the bookkeeping task may fall in the hands of the EA. This may range from simply keeping track of expenses and receipts to formal recording in the books of accounts.
5. Communication skills. An executive assistant is expected to be excellent in both written and verbal communications. The EA may be asked to draft or proof a letter by herself. Being able to converse in English is also a necessary skill.
6. Time management. Since increasing productivity is the primary reason for an EA, it is important to have good time management skills. While some use planners, there are software like MS Outlook that can serve as your personal organizer.
7. Office management. A trusted EA may be given the role of office manager in cases where the actual boss is absent or if there is none. The EA must have management skills in order to perform this task.
8. Research. Often the boss will ask the executive assistant to do some research. This usually involves knowing how to search for information on the Internet and being able to understand and process what is needed. An EA must know how to find reliable sources and how to make proper citations. She must also be aware of copyright and plagiarism rules to avoid problems.
9. Organizing meetings and taking minutes. The EA should be familiar with the procedures and protocols in arranging meetings for her boss. This involves not only preparation for whatever will be needed for the meeting but also informing all the participants. During meetings, the EA is expected to know how to take minutes of the discussion.
10. Business concepts. An executive assistant who is capable and trusted is often used as a sounding board by the boss for her own ideas. Having a basic knowledge of business subjects like marketing, finance and management would not only make the EA a better listener but may also pave the way for a future promotion.
An executive assistant may multiply her boss’ productivity as long as she is properly trained and utilized. Underestimating the role of the EA is rampant and often her capabilities are wasted on menial tasks.
To learn more about getting more from your EA, BusinessCoach, Inc., conducts a seminar entitled, “Training for Executive Assistants.” Contact (02) 727-5628, (02) 727-8860, (0915) 205- 0133 or visit for details.

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*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-6, Sunday, March 9, 2014. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.