When it comes to building a strategic executive and executive assistant relationship, feedback is critical. It’s great to know when you’re doing a great job and meeting the expectations of your executive. However, you also need to know where there’s room for improvement. Constructive feedback gives you the opportunity to improve your work and advance in your career as the organized, detail-oriented EA you are.
While it’s likely that you expect feedback from the executive you support, have you ever considered returning the favor? Two-way communication helps to build and grow a thriving partnership — which means having tough conversations and asking for what you need. Utilize these tips to help you make two-way communication with your exec strategic and effective.
Leverage Positive Reinforcement
Here’s the thing about feedback: it’s not just for areas of improvement. If your executive is doing a great job providing you with relevant information about a project, getting your approval before a deadline, or communicating their needs clearly, make sure to let them know how much you appreciate it! Sharing positive feedback with your executive lets them know what they can do to help you do your job better — and hopefully reinforce that type of behavior in the future. Not to mention, as easy as it is to forget, executives are human. Who wouldn’t want to be appreciated and thanked after a job well done? Execs deserve positive feedback, too!
Feedback can and should point out both strengths and weaknesses. Positive feedback is important, even to your executive. If your executive is doing a great job providing you with relevant information about a project, getting you approval before a deadline, or communicating her or his needs clearly, make sure to remark on her or his efforts! It is appropriate to let your executive know when the way she or he is working with you is helping you to perform your job better. Knowing that specific actions and processes are appreciated will help to reinforce that type of behavior in the future. Also, it’s important to remember that executives are human like everyone else! Who doesn’t like to be appreciated and thanked when they’ve done something well? Executives deserve positive feedback too!
We’ve all experienced times when our executive does not communicate thoroughly or forgets to follow the necessary processes. Perhaps they leave out details in a request that causes you hours of extra work or forget to send approvals in time. This understandably can cause a lot of added stress and anxiety.
To try and keep this from happening again in the future, you should take the step to stick up for your well-being and communicate this feedback with your executive. Try not to be negative, but do be upfront on the challenge you faced and how you’d recommend it be handled in the future. Offer some tangible suggestions for how they can better help you. Your executive will appreciate your direct communication and initiative for providing alternatives and solutions.
When giving constructive feedback, remember that communication is a two-way street. While your executive can work to provide more thorough information, maybe you could also try to ask more follow-up questions to help alleviate miscommunications in the future. While you’re telling your executive what you need from them to be more effective, also be aware of and take ownership of what you can do to improve. It’s this two-way communication of honesty and accountability that really nurtures better working relationships between EAs and their executives.
In a good EA-Executive relationship, executives will lean on their EAs and trust them with a lot of sensitive and/or personal information. Without proper communication with your executive, the line between work life and personal life can get blurred.
If your executive is sending you urgent requests outside of work hours, asking you to manage more personal tasks, or expecting anything outside the limitations of your role, feel empowered to set boundaries. Determine where you feel comfortable helping and where you don’t, and make sure to share that feedback with your executive! Openly communicating is the only way to make sure you both stay on the same page.
All healthy work relationships require honest and effective communication. The executive assistant and executive relationship is no different. If you make two-way communication a regular occurrence between you and your executive, it will help the two of you build that necessary respect and trust for one another. If you consistently tell your executive what you need to be successful, they will likely do the same for you! You will also find that it will become easier and more expected as you engage in the practice more regularly.
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