Office Productivity: Go Over and Above What’s Expected: Become and Indispensible Assistant


Assistant with Pencil & Folder

1. Identify tasks you are capable of taking over.
Provide a list of tasks to your manager that you believe you are capable of doing. Start with the decisions your manager makes most frequently and repetitively. If she doesn’t like creating PowerPoint presentations or answering her email, maybe that’s something you can pick up for her. Anything she particularly dislikes is a great candidate for you. Doing her expense reports at the end of each trip might be a great way to help out.

Take a look at recurring matters that she handles over and over again. Maybe she is a writer and constantly has to post articles to different blogs. You could learn how to do it and take over any time-consuming details. For example, when I create a video, uploading it on YouTube takes time. Having my assistant take that over for me has been a huge blessing.

Be observant. If there are piles of paper all over her office, coming in and offering a little organizing advice or assistance might be helpful. Or perhaps you can attend a meeting in her place. Perhaps you could type up the meeting notes. If you are comfortable with the content, may you could actually sit in and allow her to work.

Use opportunities like these to use and reinforce your creative talents. Your manager may have no idea that you’re an expert in a particular software package or know a great way to improve a process. You have to speak up with suggestions for improvement.

2. Manage the manager.
The second strategy that I want to share on becoming an indispensible assistant is to manage the manager. That’s right – actually be the manager of your manager. Have a discussion about how you can help your manager be more efficient in scheduling or running her calendar:

Is there a way that we can color code your appointments, so that I know exactly where you are or at which facility? Are you at your office? Are you in your home office? Are you on travel? Is this a phone call?
Do you prefer to have back-to-back meetings or would you rather have me spread them out? How much time in between would you like? Can I sort and process your email?
What about lunch preferences? When you take a client out to lunch, where would you like me to schedule you, depending on the time of the day?
Perhaps you want me to check your voicemail for you and take messages or answer the ones that I know the response for?
Each day I could print out your task list, you could update it and write updates by hand, and each day, I’ll enter the data and print you a fresh copy.

Look into all the ways you’re sharing information and figure out how you can help her manage better, individually and collectively.

3. Have a checklist handy.
The last strategy in becoming an indispensible assistant is to provide a checklist of frequently-needed tasks a few days or weeks prior to a meeting. Have her check off items that are needed either before or after.
For example:

Will you need a rental car? Do you want me to make airline reservations for this trip? How about driving directions? Are you going to need to get from the airport to the hotel to the meeting location and back?
If you’re having a breakfast meeting, where should I schedule it?
Do you have certain notes that you want me to include in this file? Do you need some documents typed up before you go? What copies do you need? Do you need a PowerPoint presentation? Perhaps you need some notes transcribed.
What can I do for you to help you ultimately be the most prepared you can be before you head off on this trip?

I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to open my briefcase, get out my travel file, refer to our checklist, and know with 100% certainty that my assistant has everything lined up. Traveling is much less frustrating and less stressful when I arrive.

Hopefully these three tips will help you become an indispensible assistant.

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