It’s your new executive’s first day. Introductions have been made, pleasantries have been exchanged, and you may even be helping him or her unpack.
Whether your new executive is a perfect stranger or a transfer from another department, there’s still a lot to learn about their preferences for support. You need to figure out how you can meet their expectations and discover where you can educate them along the way to add even more value to your developing partnership.
In my corporate days, I worked with a number of different executives. Some were fantastic – others, not so much. Regardless of how I felt about the change, I knew that I needed to find a way to support them to the best of my abilities. So I developed a list of “interview” questions to learn as much as I could about their working style and the expectations they had for their new admin – me!
The New Executive Interview
These 10 talking points will help you learn about your new executive and start developing a strong partnership with him or her.
1. Tell me about your past assistants. What worked well and what could have worked better in how they supported you?
2. Describe your communication style and preferences.
a. What is your writing style?
b. What is your verbal communication style?
c. How do you prefer to receive phone messages?
3. How often do you typically interact with your assistant after normal work hours?
a. What are the expectations of response times outside of work hours?
4. Describe your calendar management and meeting scheduling preferences.
a. What time of the day is best for you to reserve project work time on your calendar?
b. What time ranges do you prefer for attending meetings? (e.g. Between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.)
c. Are there specific recurring activities (personal or professional) on your calendar that I need to be aware of?
d. Do you use a color code on your calendar? If so, please share what it is.
5. What do you expect in advance of a meeting that someone has with you?
a. An agenda?
b. Meeting topic background information?
c. Meeting participant background information?
d. Meeting materials in print or electronic?
6. Describe your email management preferences.
a. How involved do you want or expect me to be in managing your email?
b. Will I have full or partial access to your inbox?
c. Do you currently use any color-coding, automated rules, or folder-sorting system for your email?
7. What time of the day works best for us to have a one-on-one meeting to review scheduling, priorities, project follow-up, status updates, travel, or any other issues that come up?
8. What are your travel preferences?
b. Ground transportation
e. Meeting locations
f. Where do you travel to the most for business?
9. What are the top projects or priorities for you and/or the company right now?
10. Describe how you manage stress.
a. How will I know you’re having a stressful day?
b. What can I do to help you minimize your stress levels on a bad day?
You may not get through all of this on the first day, or even during the first week, especially if your office is typically busy or your new executive has problems focusing. Take your cues from them! If he or she seems overwhelmed or frustrated at being peppered with questions, it’s completely fine to prioritize your needs and break the list into smaller sections.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. It’s simply a primer, an example of how the “getting to know you” conversation should go. As you and your new executive begin to hit your stride, other questions will naturally come up. My advice? Address them as soon as they do! It’s always better to ask than to find out weeks or months later that your executive has an issue with the way you’re communicating or performing a task.
It may also help to remember that your executive is just as anxious about this new partnership as you are. But he or she is also probably just as committed to working well with you!
Now, it’s your turn! Which of my 10 talking points do you think is the absolute most important? Let me know at AdminSuccess@AllThingsAdmin.com!
Author’s Note: One of the best guides I know of was created by Joan Burge and Chrissy Scivicque called Executives & Assistants Working In Partnership: The Definitive Guide to Success. I strongly encourage you to invest in this amazing tool to help you and your executive expand your working relationship into a partnership that is mutually rewarding!
© 2017 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.