The Case for Executive Assistants, COVID-19 and Beyond!
It’s 9:00 PM and you still have a long night ahead. You woke up early with the objective of getting in a virtual workout but got frustrated when you couldn’t find the Zoom meeting ID and didn’t have the right home equipment. From there, you spent the better part of your day on video calls with your team gathering status updates, checking in on the product roadmap and trying to single-handedly manage morale and engagement as the months of sheltering in place take their toll. You’d like to arrange a virtual team event to boost morale, but simply don’t have the capacity (mental or time) to do so.
At the same time, the investors are expecting significant reductions in your burn rate and now, in addition to leading the company, defining the vision for the product suite, and gearing up for another round of fundraising, you need to find time to renegotiate contracts, leases and payment terms. Tomorrow you present to a key prospect you’ve been cultivating for months (game-changing account, and especially in this time), but the presentation still needs tweaking and you’d love some feedback or even just an empathetic voice to say, “You’ve got this!”
What’s more, you’d kill for a homemade hamburger and fries (stress eating is real) but in the chaos of the day, you forgot to place your Instacart order and don’t have the energy or time to brave the lines at the grocery store.
All of us are navigating life with a new set of challenges and uncertainty, and those are compounded when you’re an executive. By now you’re familiar with Shelter-in-Place, but what about considering Support-in-Place? Just because you may not, for the time being, have an office to go to doesn’t mean the demands and pressures on you are any less exacting. If anything, they’ve increased.
In a climate of economic uncertainty, it’s tempting to want to pull back on operational labor and expense, but consider viewing your Executive Assistant as an asset and not a liability. An Executive Assistant preserves a company’s scarcest and most precious resource: YOU.
Sure, you’re grounded for the time being, but planning your travel barely scratches the surface of all that an Executive Assistant does. Over the last decade we’ve met with countless executives and Executive Assistants to explore the ways in which this partnership creates leverage and relief. Read on to discover the top 6 ways an assistant can benefit you now and going forward:
1. Prioritization – For many of us in the current climate, the roadmap for Q2 and beyond got tossed. Is how you spend your time in alignment with your current priorities? Who’s tracking those priorities and goals and ensuring, day to day, that your focus and progress are optimized? Moreover, who’s acting as a buffer to prevent distractions from pulling you out of focus, like that insane inbox?
2. That Shared Brain Thing – Your EA has the relevant context to make timesaving and business-optimizing decisions on your behalf. At any given time, they know what should and shouldn’t be happening and are running interference accordingly. So, when that potential investor reaches out and your VP of Engineering requests time for an urgent meeting, they’ll know how to respond.
3. Heard it Through the Grapevine – By being an ear to the ground and reading the room (or in present day lingo, reading the Zoom room and Slack channels), your EA helps you to keep a pulse on the company so you can make decisions accordingly.
4. Your Personal Ernest Hemingway – Whether crafting an email on your behalf, drafting a company memorandum, or prepping you for a speaking appearance, your EA is an integral member of your strategic communications team.
5. The Sous Chef to Your Executive Chef – Much like the celebrity chefs who have all the ingredients prepped ahead, your EA sets you up for showtime by planning effective meeting agendas, ensuring deliverables and teams are on task, and prepping you with the relevant background and coverage information.
6. Someone in Your Corner – Especially in times like today, how valuable would it be to have someone watching out for you, while you’re watching out for everyone else? Whether that means ensuring a supply of groceries or deliveries to your home, making sure you’re set up comfortably in your home office, or just being a source of moral support, an EA can create calm and leverage across all facets of your life.
If preserving your time and improving your wellbeing and effectiveness are top priorities, then an Executive Assistant is not to be overlooked or underestimated, no matter the economic climate.
Written by Jessica Vann, Founder & CEO of Maven Recruiting Group
May 14, 2020