This is article three of a three-article series. The purpose is simple: To help you to be more efficient. Better efficiencies lead to more effectiveness. More effectiveness can result in better productivity. Give these tips a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Nine Efficiency Tips To Set Up Your Leader for Success
I have been fortunate to have several high-performing executive assistants. Without them, I could not have been effective in my roles.
Following are efficiency tips for assistants to set up their leaders for success:
- Use the flowered bin approach. You are probably asking: What in the world is this? I have a flowered bin on my desk. Each morning, my assistant checks it and handles the items in it. The requests may be hand deliver this, scan this or call this person. This approach is efficient and saves me a ton of time each day. Also, it cuts back on the emails that I send.
- Use routing slips. A routing slip is a list of regular requests that you make of others. I have a stack of copies of my routing slip on my desk. When I have a request related to a printed item, I will check off the appropriate task on the routing slip, staple the slip to the printed item and put the printed item in the aforementioned flowered bin. The tasks on the routing slip range from revise this to use this information to update our database.
- Use a deadline organizer. I use accordion files to organize my deadlines. The pockets are numbered 1 to 31 – one per day of the month. I place emails related to the deadlines in the pockets. For example, tasks due on March 3, July 3 or Oct. 3 are placed in the pocket numbered 3. Each morning, my assistant removes the materials that correlate to the date and places the materials on my desk. For example, on Nov. 15, she removed the materials from the pocket numbered 15 and placed those materials on my desk. This approach is simple and works well for me.
- Schedule regular one-on-one meetings. Leaders should empower their assistants to schedule regular one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. Meetings can occur weekly, biweekly or monthly – depending upon the positions and scope of duties.
- Schedule appointments. Do you have those colleagues who always have a “quick” question – but the questions last for 30 minutes? I recommend that you ask them to schedule appointments. It gets them out of the bad habit of expecting you to always drop what you are doing to accommodate their “quick” questions and/or unannounced visits.
- Prepare for meetings. Assistants should help their leaders prepare for meetings, including compiling agendas and handouts and ensuring calendar appointments have complete information. Harried leaders cannot lead meetings effectively.
- Recap meetings. Assistants should handle meeting recaps for meetings they attend with their leaders. Also, direct reports should handle meeting recaps when they meet with their supervisors. The recaps should include a list of those who attended and missed the meeting, a summary of the topics discussed and a task list with next steps. The task list should mirror the five-column checklist format: Task number, task (begin each with a verb), person responsible, deadline (month, day and year) and status (done or not applicable).
- Handle mailings. Assistants should handle mailings for their leaders – no matter how many pieces are involved. When possible, large mailings should be outsourced. Leaders should not be making copies and labeling and stuff envelopes unless extenuating circumstances are involved.
- Handle expenses. My assistant handles all of my financial-related paperwork, including expense reports and reimbursements. However, I always check these documents for accuracy.
Do you have anything to add?