The smart PA or VA knows their worth.
However, their value to the organisation may not always be acknowledged, recognised or rewarded.
Even as an employee, the professional assistant will benefit from being business-minded.
If just seen as someone who sorts the tea and coffee or keeps files in order, that is a tremendous disservice to the role.
Part of the job is to demonstrate your worth and value. That means some ‘internal marketing’ work on your boss or bosses.
Here are five ways to go about that.
1. Show Speed and Efficiency
Bosses expect their PA or EA to be efficient. They ask for something to be done and it gets done.
Therefore, knowing how to get tasks done in the most productive way is crucial. If your Microsoft Office skills are up to date and up to the mark, you’ll be able to do more in less time.
Imagine you have a weekly task that takes 60 minutes and then you find a way to do it in half the time. That saves you 30 minutes a week. That’s a solid 24 hours or more saved every year.
Your boss won’t be interested in the detail of that. They’ll just love that you’re super-efficient and seem to do it all so effortlessly.
But you can be subtle about how you affirm your powerful speed and productivity.
“As promised, here is that report you wanted by 3pm.”
“You wanted the presentation ready to rehearse by tomorrow. I managed to get it done for you today. Here it is.”
And, for a group of bosses, you might find yourself saying: “You each have a copy of the Henderson Report. The information is the same in each copy and I’ve organised the content the way you each prefer it to be presented for ease of reference.”
Gentle reminders that you are doing a great job.
2. Demonstrate Skills with Applications and Tasks
Much of the work of a PA or EA is task-based.
You’ll be asked to do this. To do that. To take care of something else.
With strong Microsoft Office skills, you’re already taking care of the efficiency and productivity side. But you can also take further advantage of that to highlight your value.
You might expect people to know that you’re able to work well in Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Teams and more.
But there’s no harm in referencing applications to demonstrate your expertise.
For example, a boss might be working on a presentation. You can advise them to put their sub-headings and notes in a Word document and you’ll turn that into slides in PowerPoint – so they can see how that looks.
If you know your Word and PowerPoint tricks, you’ll know how to do that task with ease.
When you reference the apps you use, it conveys your knowledge and professionalism. Subtle yet powerful.
Let’s say the organisation is changing email marketing software. You could say: “I’ve merged the different databases into one list in Excel and uploaded that to the new software. We’re all ready to go.”
It’s a bit of extra detail but not too much detail. Just enough to show how ‘on top of everything’ you are.
3. Champion Your Communication and Collaboration Expertise
Bosses may know the core apps in Microsoft Office, but chances are they won’t know what each one is capable of.
As a PA or EA, you can enlighten executives and managers. Especially around smart ways to communicate and collaborate.
For presentations, everyone has heard of and fears ‘Death by PowerPoint. However, when used properly, PowerPoint can deliver fantastic presentations.
The savvy PA or EA can guide and mentor their boss on how to deliver a strong visual presentation. The use of words, styles and designs, animations and other tricks can all be covered.
The boss can focus on the message and content, knowing that you’ll be able to make it look good.
When their presentation makes them look good, to their colleagues and peers, it makes you look good, too.
With hybrid, remote and flexible working still around, virtual meetings are very much part of the working week.
Some organisations may be using Zoom but if you have Microsoft Teams, it probably makes more sense to use that instead. Teams gives you everything Zoom can do – and a bit more. Plus, your organisation can save on Zoom subscriptions.
When you have tamed Microsoft Teams, you could be the person who trains others in how to use it within the organisation. If each department has at least one Teams ‘ambassador’ (who knows how the essentials work) those people can become the ‘go to’ for any help.
Alternatively, hire a Microsoft Teams Trainer who can deliver group training. It can all be delivered effectively online these days – saving you room hire and travel expenses.
Good communications and strong collaboration are vital to organisational success. The savvy PA or Executive Assistant who can show better ways to go about it will be able to demonstrate a higher value to the people who employ them.
4. Be an Ideas Person and Problem Solver
Being an Executive Assistant or PA today is about much more than completing a list of tasks each week.
People who are able to show that they are more than their title role will stand out.
Organisations are always looking for new ideas and good suggestions. The savvy PA or EA is likely to have eyes and ears to the ground about what’s happening in the day to day.
If you see something that’s not working or think of a different, better way of doing things, consider sharing that with your boss.
For example, it could be presented in this way.
“Hey, I’ve noticed we do X (activity or behaviour). This causes Y (a problem or poor result). Have we considered doing Z (your idea)? I think it could work and lead to A, B and C (new results or outcomes). What do you think?”
The PA or EA who shows eagerness to help with strategic or managerial issues can also demonstrate added value to their boss. If you can provide a solution to something that’s been a sticking point, that’s an extra bonus.
You’ll be seen as a problem-solver and may be given extra responsibility (perhaps even a raise) as a result. If you’re using Microsoft Office to get more done in less time, it’s that saved time you can use to apply to working out ideas.
5. Share Learning and Development
The savvy PA or EA sees learning and development as an ongoing process.
Microsoft Office and its applications get upgrades and tweaks throughout the year. The Windows operating system changes to a new version from time to time. We’re currently at Windows 11.
The smart PA or EA will ensure they are up to speed with how to use Microsoft Office – and build their skill level with each upgrade.
As a Microsoft Office trainer, I have refreshed, updated and created new courses to stay on the curve with how each application is changing.
My latest ‘Essential Office’ programme, for example, is geared for Windows 11 (which looks and functions a little differently to its predecessor, Windows 10)
But learning is not just about skills with the software and keyboard.
If you have a second language, that could be useful to your organisation. If you keep up with the news, read magazines or follow relevant articles you may find items of interest to your boss.
They may know about it. They may not. What they will notice is that you’re thinking about their role and the business.
It’s another way to demonstrate your value.
What Message are You Sending Out to Your Executive?
Who you are, what you do and how you do it are all part of how people perceive you.
As a PA or EA people simply expect you to get things done.
They’ll assume you know ‘everything’ about Microsoft Office – even the newer apps like Teams – and how best to use it to get tasks completed.
They may know some of what you do each week but probably not everything. It’s part of the job of the savvy PA or EA to ensure bosses understand the value of what you do.
How do you want people to see you?
The messages are in what you say, do and how you operate.
How do you demonstrate your value?
Let me know in the comments.