Are you ready for more?
I’m happy to bring you Day Four of this year’s edition of 12 Days of Real Careers.
If you’re just catching up on this celebration of insights and fellow assistants, you’ll find links to the first three days’ posts at the base of this article.
Think of these 12 Days as gifts of experience and wisdom that we can all incorporate. To read the full interview from any of these individuals, just click on her or his name.
“Keep a running log of all your successes and wins“
Leeanne Adu, England, on seeking a promotion: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get … but before you ask, make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Write down all your achievements and your goals. Show your evidence and have the facts on hand.
When you approach your employer, don’t give them any room to doubt why they should give you the promotion. If you have it all written down in a factual and logical way, then it will be much harder to ignore. Of course we all want to feel valued and hope our bosses see it without our input, but unfortunately this is not always the case. Business cases are important for you to remember your value and also to help your employer remember. Keep a running log of all your successes and wins, and you can’t go wrong.”
“I want to do my very best for my executive and I can only do that if we’re on the same page”
Tonya Beattie, USA: “When we land a new job, we’re fresh from impressing a room full of strangers with our skills and abilities and the talents we’re bringing to the team. A new assistant needs to come in with an open mind and be prepared to learn.
Things are probably going to be done differently than you’re used to, and it’s going to take you some time to figure out the systems. Be sure to give yourself some grace. You’re going to make some mistakes; learn from them and move on. Be friendly to everyone. You never know who you’re going to need to lean on down the road.”
“Any leadership role with your peers can help you grow professionally and personally”
Laureen Dailey, Canada: “I have a post-secondary diploma in Legal Secretarial Sciences, supplemented by various professional development trainings and self-taught learnings over the years. Every little bit helps to keep abreast of changes in the profession and with technology.
… Any kind of leadership role with your peers can only help you grow professionally and personally by giving you an opportunity to learn new skills and become more confident in your abilities.”
“Never stop learning; it is beyond arrogant to think you know everything about the profession”
Kerry Dawson, England: “If you have an issue, somewhere in the world is someone who has had the very same problem and has worked through it. Ask for help on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
The PA profession can be isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. Network, network, network.
The whole world is at your fingertips. It has never been so easy to network with subject matter experts and you don’t even have to leave the house to do it. Make social media work for you if you can’t network face-to-face.”
“I work hard to ensure that I am seen as a key member of the Executive Team”
Priscilia Gough, Canada (originally from South Africa): “I think the most challenging part of my career is to make people understand that the role of an EA is not just administrative. I work hard to ensure that I am seen as a key member of the Executive Team and that I can be part of the strategic decisions and discussions that are taking place.
I try to ensure I always have a seat at the boardroom table so that I know what is happening. This helps me anticipate issues that might arise and helps me be proactive in the work that I do.”
On IMA: “You develop a better understanding of different countries and cultures”
Else-Britt Lundgren, Sweden: “IMA is a unique network; you have the national as well as the international network, in which you develop a better understanding of different countries and cultures – which is so necessary in our global business world. I have definitely benefitted from improving my leadership skills.
This is the case, too, with my project management skills and having gained a better understanding of different businesses. Through networking at our events, you keep pace with trends in our profession and you can often create your own contacts with whom you share ideas, experiences and learning.”
“Building connections at every level is key”
Karine McKee, England: “Get to know who is who. Know the dynamics of an organization. This will help you to be able to navigate and take on tasks that your executive may have to otherwise do. You want to focus on freeing their time to focus on the vision overall and not the detail. You can manage the detail and you can help see the gaps of what can hinder achieving the goal.
… Be up to date with any trends and software packages that can help in the role. Do not be afraid to embrace the new systems; be the one to implement and help install the process around how the company should use it. Be part of the development and learn where the new gaps will be, and become skilled in these areas.”
“Goal setting is not only important to you and your professional development, it’s important to your executive and your organization”
Juanita Mort, USA: “I don’t think goal setting is something all admins do easily. I think we are often so ‘in the fray’ that we don’t take time to set goals – which is a big mistake.
Goal setting is not only important to you and your professional development, it’s important to your executive and your organization as it helps you connect with and become accountable to the whole, giving you something to work toward.
… Find someone who exhibits the professionalism, skills and experience in the areas you want to grow and ask them to mentor you.”
“Know your worth!”
Karen Richmond, Scotland: ” Know your worth! Looking back to when I started as a PA in a factory office, I’m amazed at how sexist attitudes were (from both male and female colleagues). I’m glad that has changed, but I do think it is important for young people to realise how valuable they are to an organisation and to realise their self worth.
Use every opportunity to work with different people. You can learn so much from peers, those in different roles, different executives, etc. Don’t be afraid to push your boundaries a little and step outside your comfort zone now and again. Look at all the online resources available and, if you are unable to network with peers within your organisation, join one of the many online networks and groups available. Just go for it.”
” Take responsibility and never put the blame on anyone; we are 100% responsible for everything that happen to us”
Eleni Rizikianou, Greece: “Never stop learning, never stop developing, never stop being a better person. Take responsibility and never put the blame on anyone; we are 100% responsible for everything that happen to us. Always keep in mind that you can’t change anyone, but you can change how you are dealing with everyone. So: change, adapt, grow up, move, lead by your example and be the kind of person who is valuable for the whole team.
… Every person has to set their own boundaries and has to find the way to do it. We owe it to ourselves in every aspect of our lives. There is no magic tip; it is constant personal development; it is knowing who I am and where I want to go. There is no such thing as an easygoing life. Every one of us has to find our own path and walk it in our unique way.”
Contribute to your profession – don’t stand on the sidelines. Take risks – often.”
“You must build a bond of trust and transparency”
Matthew Want, England: ” (Make) sure you don’t try and run before you can walk. When I first started I really wanted to be like other assistants I met, but I soon learnt that they had once been where I was and that only by being patient and learning what the role fully entails would I be able to reach that level.
(Make) sure that you have a clear strategy of what needs prioritising for your boss and yourself. It is key that you make sure you are continually on top of what your boss needs so you can make her/his workload easier – and, in return, helping manage the workload for yourself.”
Click any name below for my full interview with any of the Real Careers alumni featured in 2020’s 12 Days of Real Careers
- Day One: Craig Bryson (England; originally from Zimbabwe), Denise Delamain (England), Vicki Faint (NZ), Beth Ann Howard (USA), Florence Katono (Uganda), Solveig Kristensen (Norway), Renée Neverson (USA), James Sobczak (USA), Peyton Tickner (USA), Katherine Vaillancourt (Canada and the Philippines), Catherine Williamson (England)
- Day Two: Rebecca Agyirba Afful (Ghana), Beth Arzy (USA and England), Stacey Brewer (USA), Bianca Constance (USA; originally from Canada), Bonnie Cookson (England), Maria Marsh (England), Julia Schmidt (Norway and Brazil), Melanie Sheehy (England), Chantal Sneijkers (Belgium), Marc Taylor-Allan (England), Liza Young (Scotland)
- Day Three: Lisa Assetta (USA), Margo Baptista (Canada), Kimberleigh Deignan (USA), Debbie Grimshaw (England), Cathy Harris (South Africa), Sofie Koark (Sweden), Janice Parker (England and Australia), Debra Peltz (England), Carolina Siqueira Silva (Brazil), Emily Walker (England), Truus van den Brink-Havinga (The Netherlands), Shirwyn Weber (South Africa)
- Day Four: Leeanne Adu (England), Tonya Beattie (USA), Laureen Dailey (Canada), Kerry Dawson (England), Priscilia Gough (Canada and South Africa), Else-Britt Lundgren (Sweden), Karine McKee (England), Juanita Mort (USA), Karen Richmond (Scotland), Eleni Rizikianou (Greece), Matthew Want (England)