Feedback Is The Secret To Success With Your EA

We all seem to inherently understand that feedback is critical to the success of our professional relationships, particularly with those who are closest to us in our daily work. In reality, feedback is rarely given or received with near enough frequency or accuracy. 

If you are a founder or executive, one of the most critical professional relationships you can have is with your executive assistant (EA). Your EA is often your right hand, helping you scale yourself and access your potential. But if you’re going to invest in the partnership of an EA, feedback is the secret to success.

Feedback is a cornerstone

Feedback isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a cornerstone of any successful working relationship. Without it, you’re leaving a lot to interpretation (or misinterpretation) and missing countless opportunities to imrpove. This is especially true with your EA. They’re in a unique position where their efficiency directly impacts your productivity. Providing regular, thoughtful bi-directional feedback will help you both grow and refine your relationship, making both your lives easier.

I’m not mean and you’re not fragile

Get clear with when and how feedback should be shared. I’m a fan of the mantra of “I’m not mean and you’re not fragile”, meaning that it’s understood that feedback is given and received from a place of curiosity instead of defensiveness. Adding guardrails for the format, location, and timing of feedback removes the fear and stigma associated with anything that might otherwise be considered “negative”. Whether it’s a live check-in or a regular, asynchronous format, the method doesn’t matter as much as the consistency and openness.

Make it useful

Be specific about what’s working and what’s not, and also what exactly you’d like to see. Vague compliments like “good job” don’t help anyone improve. Instead, describe facts and details in relation to your clearly defined expectations. Too often we see feedback not shared until it’s been stockpiled over time, which leaves the recipient unclear of where to go next. The point of feedback is to grow but that is only possible through clear and timely feedback. 

Make it a dialogue

Remember, feedback should be a two-way street. Your EA is in a unique position to observe your working style and may have insights into how you can be more effective as well. Don’t shy away from asking for their perspective. This kind of open dialogue allows you both to think critically about each of your roles in the relationship and get creative with ideas to improve.

Celebrate wins

Feedback is not only meant to be constructive. Celebrate the wins, call out the big and the little things as jobs well done. The absence of feedback leads to assumptions, which often leads to misaligned expectations. Noting the wins also helps to foster a safe environment for feedback…plus it feels great to celebrate a win, no matter what it may be. 

Adapt and evolve

Lastly, don’t forget to adapt. What worked a year ago might not be effective now. But if you’ve built a healthy feedback routine, this evolution should happen naturally. 

You’ve made the investment to work with an EA. You deserve to have the full benefit of this wonderful relationship. We get that when you’re already busy, feedback can feel like a lot. But having witnessed thousands of EA <> executive relationships, I can say without a doubt that thoughtful and consistent feedback is well worth your time and energy.

Here are some of my favorite resources for giving feedback:

  • Crafted Leadership: Long-time teachers, partners, friends, and clients of ours, we can’t recommend them highly enough
  • Do Better Work by Max Yoder: One of my very favorite quick reads written by friend and fellow founder, Max Yoder. This covers way more than feedback and is worth the read.
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni: Great book with tons of actionable recommendations
  • Principles by Ray Dalio: This book covers so much more than feedback, but it is still a critical tenet of his work principles
  • Dare to Lead by Brené Brown: Wise and witty, I always learn something valuable from her writings

Written by Paige McPheely

Paige is Base’s Founder and CEO. Supported by a team of dreamers, doers and thinkers, Paige is making her long-term vision of equipping leaders with excellent, affordable and scalable assistant support a reality. With the largest pool of EA talent in the world and the very first platform built for EAs, she is committed to matching leaders with strategic, high-impact, tech-enabled assistants to meet their unique business needs. Paige believes in empowering assistants to lead more impactful careers by equipping them with top tier tools and training from Base.