Recognising your Value

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By Shireen Dallas Portrait Photograph-1

Shireen is a highly qualified and experienced legal secretary, who has a diverse expertise in the legal field for more than 15 years. Shireen currently works with 3 partners in a law firm in Dublin.

“Your value doesn’t decrease by someone’s inability to see your worth.” ~Unknown

 Others will treat you as you expect to be treated!

During my twenty-year career I have had the opportunity to work in two differentcountries one in Europe and the other in Africa,in different kinds of company’s and varying administrative roles. This has meant that I have had to adapt and grow as a person.

When I started out in my administrative career I was so eager to please and to prove my worth,but sadly, I had no sense of my own talents or the value I brought with me to work everyday.  Here I was putting all my energy in trying to make it work and being liked, that many times I abandoned or pushed aside my own needs. The result was, that I was seldom taken seriously or even noticed, you see I didn’t respect myself enough to realise I deserved to be treated better.

It is natural for us to want to feel valued and respected and for our ability/talents to be valued and matter.For me this meant that I had to start visualising what I wanted and believing that I could achieve this.

I have always supported my husband and his drive to excel in his career and this has meant that I have moved around a lot and worked at a number of different companies.  I never really built up enough confidence in myself or valued what I had accomplished.  Therefore, when I applied for a position as a legal secretary in one of the top law firms, I was first unsure if I would even get an interview let alone be successful. So with my husband’s assistance I started working on defining and showing the success’sin my career.  It was a small step, and the start of recognising my value and what I had accomplished,as well as being a foundationto build on going forward.   This meant that at the interview I was more confident in who I was and what I could add and bring to the team.  Over time my sense of self worth has moved from just believing I was valuable to portraying it.   Who I am as a personis my brand and I have worked hard for it, why should I give someone the power to make me feel less valuable?  By the way I did get the job….

So in learning to recognise my value here are a few things that I have worked through:

  • Defining my professional values;
  • Defining what I bring to thecompany and team;
  • Realising what makes me feel respected or valued in the workplace. Sometimes you need to realise what doesn’t make you feel valued to find out what does; and
  • Discovering my core values that define me as a person.

I have learnt that in respecting myselfand mychosen professionothers will respect me and myprofession.Believe in yourself, respectyourself as a valuable employee and believe that your input is important.

If you feel under valued or not respected recognise that you have the power to change how you feel.  It might be that you may need to realise that your beliefs and perceptions are causing you to feel this way and make a conscious decision to refocus your thinking and remember what you bring to the team and that you are valuable.  As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”

Self-doubt is complicated, you have to solve it for yourself—no one can do it for you. So take control, get out of your own way and believe that you deserve to be valued and respected for what you bring to the team.

I can’t make people value me

All I can do is show them who I am

What I feel

And what I believe in

It’s up to them to realize my worth

 Unknown

 

Is your Executive lonely at the top?

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Worried BossAn Interesting article in The Times on Monday 30th November highlighted recent research that The Times undertook with Odgers Berndtson that C-level Executives are battling ‘burn out’.  The research findings show that many Senior Executives are being kept awake at night worrying about work to be done and finding it difficult to switch off and get a good night’s sleep. 60% of top bosses reported taking their phone or tablet to bed with them at night, 65% felt pressured to work at weekends and 92% responded to emails and messages at any time.

The pressure that C-level Executives are under will also impact on the Executive Assistants and Personal Assistants who work for them.  Many EAs and PAs that I work with tell me of replying to emails at midnight or 2am in the morning.  Globalisation and advances in technology play a big part in this evolving working environment.  So how can EAs and PAs support their bosses without suffering from the same issues?

Build a Communication Strategy between you

Regular communication with your boss is key to a successful partnership.  Setting firm guidelines with your boss on when you are working and when your phone and laptop is switched off is important.  I believe that EAs and PAs also need to play a key role in helping their bosses to learn to switch off as well.  The EA & PA role at C-Level is one of strategic business support to your boss and that includes managing communication between you clearly and with confidence.  Where you can, try and support your boss with health and wellbeing tips and when you see them doing too much, protect their diary and give them a chance to rest and restore.My relationship with my former boss, Sir Christopher Bland was one that developed over time into trust and respect between us and whenever I saw he was doing too much, not drinking enough water or had no time for lunch then I would intervene.

Evolving role of Executive Assistants & Personal Assistants

The EA & PA role in the 21st century is now very exciting with many opportunities. As C-level executives expand their companies across the world your role managing the complexities of their life is more vital than ever.  You are on the rise and developing key business knowledge and skills is vital for your career progression.  As your Executive rises so will you, enjoy the journey!

Feel free to leave your comments and questions below

The True Value of a PA/EA

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By Sherri Eckworth

SherriEckworth

Sherri Eckworth has been a Senior Executive Assistant at TMW Unlimited since 2010. Sherri has worked across multiple industries and has been a PA at Board level for almost 20 years. Awarded SecsintheCity PA of the Year 2013 and shortlisted for Executive Magazine PA of the Year 2014. A regular top 30 member of Eventopedia’s PA Club Top 250 Power List and an enthusiastic supporter of the PA role.

A tough one to put in a few paragraphs but this is my take on a subject I feel very passionately about…the True Value of a PA/EA

Do you get maximum value from your PAs? Do you know how much additional value they can add to your business?

From a PA who’s been in the administrative support space for over twenty years, here’s a few reasons why I believe that we are a very valuable resource in business.

We make amazing Project Managers – it’s what we do best. Whether organizing an event or getting ‘impossibly difficult to pin down’ people in a room together, we make it happen. Our organisational skills give us a head start when it comes to managing projects from inception to completion. Our ability not to let anything drop ensures we’ll be ‘on it’ all the way through and because we’re used to changing environments, we won’t be phased if something needs to be rerouted.

We make great Facilitators – and I don’t just mean managing meetings to run on time! Yes we can take the notes, but we follow up on actions, understand the processes and know who the key stakeholders are. We’re enthusiastic and can create a healthy atmosphere around introducing change. For planning ‘away days’, we’ll also ensure you get the best venue at the best price too!

We are confidential sounding boards –people talk to us about their concerns and we know when to listen and when to feedback. We’re trusted by our colleagues as they know we deliver their messages in the right way.

We’re calm gatekeepers whilst being great ambassadors for our teams. We will never let anyone down. As much as we’d like to clone our bosses, we know we can’t, so we prioritise their time in a way that works best for all. Everyone needs to feel important and valued and understanding that is key.

We’re the best jugglers! From the minute we arrive in the office, we’re asked what feels like a hundred questions a minute. We’re fielding calls, managing multiple events, answering emails, making last minute changes to the diaries, checking out meeting rooms, liaising with other departments and normally all whilst preparing relevant paperwork for the day.

We’ve worked across many industries – we’ve shown curiosity about our surroundings and learned a lot about business. Transferable skills give us great advantages and crossing industries keeps us refreshed and enthused.

We’re ‘people’ people – we’re perceptive and knowledgeable when it comes to others. We often see potential issues before they become problematic and we know who may need a little extra help.

And of course there’s lots more – but I think that’s a great start.  A ‘personal assistant’ is so much more than the title suggests, often working for more than one person, acting as a contact point for the wider business and generally being pulled in many directions at once. A reliable, trustworthy, grounded PA is well worth your time and investment – with development, training and encouragement, we can really demonstrate our true value.

Career Progression for PAs & EAs

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By Vivian Mensah

Vivien  has 18 years’ experience in the admin profession.  She began her career as a receptionist at Astra Zeneca PLC, a FTSE 100 Biopharmaceuticals company where she proceeded to hold Senior PA and Project Co-ordinater roles and is currently EA to the EVP there.  She is committed and passionate about her role as an EA who champions and advocates the value and impact the PA role brings to the organisation, team and individuals and was responsible for introducing lunch and learn sessions for the PAs at AstraZeneca. 

Career progression – Where do I start?

How many of us in the admin community have had some form of performance management engagement this year, last year or never – before you answer bear in mind that this can be classified as any of the following: Performance planning, Performance coaching or Performance problems.

We should all have a performance plan – whether or not it states “I want to remain in this position/post for the rest of my career” or “I want to become the CEO in 5 years” – that can be referred too, rewritten, amended, adjusted and referred to.

Many of us want to have longevity in the admin profession, we want to progress as far as our skills, capabilities, personality and leadership traits will take us. We have ambition and we have aspirations.

So, does the below sound familiar?

Admin: ‘I would like to speak to you about my career progression’.

Manager: ‘Career progression? But you are an admin’.

Career progression for admin professionals is available, achievable and deserved but it is up to you to remain focused, work hard and try to excel in everything that you. Always try your hardest and strive for success. If this is not recognised in your current role, it could happen in your next – be open minded and look to create those opportunities.  You may need to move teams/departments/organisations to realise your full potential.  You need to prioritise what is important to you, is it the career satisfaction?  Enjoyment?  Challenge? If you simply sit and wait for someone to take notice and offer you something better/a step up or put you forward for that EA/project management position that you have always then you may be waiting a long time.

There are many paths that we can take to avoid that but like most things sometimes it may take time, could get bumpy along the way and not always straight forward.

It’s not always easy to bring up the subject of career progression topic but a great opportunity to seize for that is your mid-year or year-end appraisal. I worry about two things here: that some of you may not even have appraisals or having to wait half or a full year to talk about investing in yourself which in turn will be beneficial to the organisation in so many ways – a motivated, highly-engaged employee who is likely to stay committed within the organisation.

For your first of meetings I would suggest the following:

Preparation, preparation, preparation. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of preparing for your meetings. Sometimes you only get one chance, so make it count!


Goals and Objectives:

Write down your goals and objectives as these are fundamental to accomplishing what you need to. Goals are long term aims that you want to accomplish and objectives are measurable, concrete and tangible.

Knowledge is Power:

You must become an expert in your field, e.g.progressing from a PA to an EA
Find out all is there is to know about an EA – how does the role differ to the role of a PA
What aspects of the role interests you? What are some of the challenges you expect to face in the role?

Ask if you can shadow an EA for a couple of hours or a day?

Ask an existing EA in your organisation or network to mentor you.

THE MEETING
Schedule sufficient meeting time and advise your manager in advance of the topics and content you would like to discuss this with her/him.

Planning:
Planning is essential to improve the odds of a successful outcome so go prepared – research relevant course/mentorship schemes/internships/in-house training etc.

Dialogue:
Ensure that you have an open, honest and realistic discussion about your career progression because this might be your only shot in a long time to discuss training courses/mentorship etc.

Follow ups:
So you have had the discussion and you have the green light (yippee) to enrol on some courses/mentorship schemes.  This is really great news! It demonstrates that your manager believes in you and is investing time and money in you – Yes! You! Repay the compliment by scheduling regular update meetings to keep your manager up to date with your progress, experiences and whether it meets the objectives.

Adding Value as a PA/EA

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By Amy Marsden

Amy is a PA with over 8 years’ experience and is currently PA to Hank Uberoi, CEO of Earthport, an international cross border payments company with its headquarters in London. Prior to that she was assistant to Seth Berman, London head of US based digital forensics firm Stroz Friedberg, and cross-bench peer Lord Nicholas Stern of Brentford. 

How PA’s and EA’s can directly contribute to the success of their employer

Employers today are becoming increasingly demanding of their employees, and assistants are no exception. We are expected to arrive ready to hit the ground running, armed with both the experience and knowledge required to carry out any task assigned to us, capable of taking on a high workload and battling intense office hours. Yet, our role is commonly perceived as a “luxury” by budget conscious HR departments with PA’s/EA’s being reserved for those at the top of a company’s hierarchy. There is no better justification for your position within a company than your ability to “add value” to the business you work for and contribute to the success of your employer.

Adding value for an assistant can be defined as the contribution you make outside of your  job description, the action you take which will directly affect the progress of a business and help it move forward, and the additional work you undertake to support the achievement of the “bigger picture”. Here are three simple suggestions of how you can work towards adding value:

  1. Support business development– the route to revenue

A little research can go a long way; get to know your sector and be quick to spot important press items such as the news of mergers, important hires, announcements, and upcoming conference dates etc. Set up Google alerts for key industry words and the name of your company. Read newspapers, industry publications, online articles, and circulate any interesting developments within your team or share with your boss – they may be able to grab an opportunity to sell, present their services, or gain a business contact based on the information you have provided.

Attend PA/EA events; the new friend you make over drinks may be the PA to the Head of that new start-up your boss has been keen to meet with. Leverage your network of contacts, and develop a social media presence to expand it.

Challenge yourself to learn more; are you aware of who your competitors are? Do you understand the different functions/departments within your company? Do you know what your service/product is? Did your boss follow up with the CEO he met at that conference last week? Can you do a little research on them before he/she does?

  1. Review existing processes and procedures – streamline for success

“Tidying up” or essential maintenance can improve our work efficiency and how well we serve our customers/clients/staff. Take a little time to assess what works well in your business and what doesn’t ; perhaps take the initiative to introduce or implement change in one of these areas? This could be something as small as creating a new PowerPoint template, drawing up an event’s check list or making a Gantt chart for the team project you are working on to keep deadlines in check. It could also be a larger action such as meeting with a new travel provider, arranging a new conference room booking system or creating a user guide for new starters.

Saving time and money are at top priorities for businesses in 2015. Although you may not have access to an overview of spending or be a budget holder,you could propose a new supplier for something simple like business cards or stationery, researching discount codes and promotions. If you do have access to figures, analyse average spends on travel, hotel bookings and catering; are there cheaper, faster or more innovative alternatives that can cater to your business?

  1. Get involved in other areas – go the extra mile

Are you an expert at PowerPoint, Photoshop, or Salesforce? Could you spare some of your down time to utilise those skills and support the marketing team in an area where they are under staffed? Would you like to use that degree in Media & Publishing you gained at University? Could you share your knowledge and offer to train a colleague to use a program or tool you are familiar with? Businesses often spend time and money hiring or training staff to cater to evolving business needs. If you are able to take the chance to break routine and blur the lines of your job description for the success of the wider business, do so.

You may be particularly passionate about the environment, or the “go to” person for social events, always the first to know about that amazing new restaurant that just opened in the city. Why not develop yourself within office hours by doing something you enjoy? Take the lead on a new project such as recycling; reducing waste, saving money and motivating others to amend their habits. Arrange regular team drinks, “lunch & learns”, or put yourself forward to help organise the next summer party. This will help motivate your colleagues and cultivate team spirit which directly affects morale and helps foster a collaborative culture.