From onboarding new employees to spearheading diversity and inclusion programs, many assistants today are extending their support beyond their executive(s). EAs at top organizations are leveraging their positions (and passions!) to impact people and culture within their company. We recently hosted a panel with two of these EAs, who discussed their strategies, experiences, and points of view for how assistants can have a positive impact on company culture.
Linda McFarland is the Senior EA to the CFO, CAO, and SVP of Finance at Intapp. She’s worked as an EA at many companies, including Hyperion Solutions, Seagate Technology, Sophos, and GoDaddy. She is also a keynote speaker, founder of Linda McFarland Consulting, and the author of two books.
Rowe Hoffer is the Senior Assistant to the Co-Founder & CEO as well as the Lead, EA Cohort at Mozilla, where she is an integral leader in the recruiting, hiring, and onboarding of assistants across the organization. Rowe has had a long and successful career as an Executive Assistant at companies such as The Computer History Museum, NetApp, and Hyperion Solutions.
Watch the full replay below, or keep reading for our top takeaways from the panel.
Connect with people (and connect people with each other) 🔗
A huge part of impacting an organization’s culture is participating in it. Rowe shares that building solid relationships with team members and caring for others goes a long way in making sure people feel like they can make an impact. You can’t build a culture alone. It’s when you bring people together that you can start to drive positive change.
This also means making sure people feel connected to your executive team. Rowe recommends pushing your leader to build closer relationships with their staff, whether that’s through small group meetings, one-on-ones, or office hours. This helps ensure that everyone in the organization has equal access to resources, information, and experience.
Lead with your own behavior 🥇
When you’re participating in an organization’s culture, you also need to know what you’re bringing to it. Linda encourages us to have self-awareness, because your behavior can have a strong positive (or even negative) impact on others. When you are representing leadership, everything you do and say has a ripple effect.
As the ears and eyes of the organization, EAs also need to be aware of their surroundings. Rowe reminds us that EAs are not just culture carriers — we are thermostats. When things get hot, we have the power and ability to cool it down, and vice versa. This all starts with our own behavior and builds from there.
Work closely with leadership 🤝
EAs are in a unique and powerful position to see how culture may differ between the leadership team and the rest of the organization. Whether that means people are acting differently when an executive is in the room, or the leader’s behavior is manifesting in negative ways, Linda urges EAs to help their leaders recognize this.
Sometimes, as an EA, part of your role is working with your executive to help them recognize their negative behavior and how it is affecting their staff. Good leaders will value your input and be open to change when they see the impact it is having. And this goes both ways! If there are things you think your leadership could do to spread more positive changes, you shouldn’t be afraid to share those ideas, too. Having leadership buy-in and participation is one of the best ways to get your culture programs off the ground.
Making more impact starts today
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Get a demo of Base to see what you can do with the right tools to support you.