5 Things the Best EAs Are Doing Right Now

As we’ve noted before, now is the time to amplify how you support your executive! Here’s our guide on how to become a strategic partner and really wow your exec.

Try to see supporting your exec through a crisis as a brand new project. Don’t rely on past habits or communication cadences right now—the environment is shifting by the day, and your support should as well!

Schedule a Strategic Discussion

Add a 30-60 minute call (video would be best!) for you and your executive on the calendar. Plan out your agenda in advance, with these questions in mind:

  • First and foremost, how are you?
  • How have your priorities shifted?
  • Are my priorities aligned with yours? (Be able to outline your own priorities and state them explicitly.)
  • What are you most hopeful about? Most worried about?
  • Are there any specific risks or opportunities we should focus on?
  • What is the highest leverage thing you can do right now for our company?
  • What is the highest leverage thing I can do for you right now? (Come prepared with ideas based on your priorities.)

Make sure you have a good understanding of what’s on your exec’s mind right now. Be clear on priorities for both of you, and make a plan together for how to make sure you are both laser-focused on them.

Follow-up and Follow-through

Once you’re crystal clear on your executive’s current priorities and concerns, take some time to outline what that means for you. Proactively set up a communication cadence with your executive that ensures you are always in-sync on current initiatives and concerns.

1. Daily Digest

Cover the basics: Send a daily digest to your executive, with status updates, blockers/questions, calendar changes, and daily meeting prep. This should be a short, easy-to-skim email. Use these daily communications, instead of your video check-ins, to take care of tactical details. Base makes creating digests super easy, and allows you to keep a history of sent digests for review. See a sample digest here!

Make sure you have a plan for urgent questions and requests. If you’re working remotely, this may mean texting instead of using an instant messenger or email. With Base, you can send a Decision Stream in several different formats—be clear on how you will communicate urgency. For example, note that you will add “IMPORTANT” to any messages that need responses within 30 minutes; or note that you will send Decision Streams via text only if a response is needed within 2 hours. (All other questions and blockers can go in your daily digest.)

2. Weekly Check-in

Schedule a weekly check-in (video is best!). You own this time with your executive, so always come prepared with an agenda for how to best use your time together. Instead of discussing tasks or logistics (this is what digests are for!), cover anything that is best discussed live (brainstorming, planning, etc.). This is also a great time to ask for feedback! Now more than ever, assistants need to be aware of how their performance is perceived, and strive to constantly improve.

3. Weekly Digest

Send a weekly digest (Friday afternoons or Monday mornings work well) with a recap of key priorities and focus areas, as well as an overview of the coming week. Your weekly digest is a great way to align on priorities and sync up on higher-level team updates. This is also a great place to include a recap of your weekly video call and priorities of other leadership team members or direct reports.

4. Monthly Digest

Take the time to review the past month and look ahead to the coming month: what were last month’s priorities? Will those continue to be important in the coming weeks? Who did your exec meet with last month, and who might have gotten lost in the shuffle? What big meetings, events, or deadlines are looming next month, and how can you help your exec get ahead of them? Send your exec a recap of your findings, with a recommendation for her focus areas week by week.

5. Quarterly Digest

The end of a quarter is the perfect time to pause and reflect on progress that has been made in the past 3 months. Board meetings, investor updates, and work sprints often recur every quarter, and making time to review projects, calendars, and priorities will help you and your exec see trends and pivot as needed. Your exec is likely moving quickly and reacting to daily and weekly demands; it’s up to you to be proactive, see the bigger picture, and make recommendations for priority shifts.

Need a quick cheat sheet? Check out our infographic here.

Now is the time to solidify your strategic partnership with your exec. Don’t sit back and wait for task assignments or assume that your exec knows what support is needed right now. Step up, be proactive, and lead with service!

About the Author

Crystal Esquivel

Crystal Esquivel

Crystal has served as an Executive Assistant to a variety of leaders, including CEOs, Chairmen, Executive Directors, and Founders. She has managed weeklong food events in multiple cities, authored two books about food in her hometown of Austin, Texas, and contracted to support chefs, photographers, and cocktail experts. Crystal is Chief of Staff of Base and is focused on building a strong and supportive EA community packed with resources and relevant content. She lives in Greenville, SC with her husband Justin and their little black cat.