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Why Executive Assistants are so Critical (Part 1 of 2)

critical executive assistants

Today’s blog is one in a series on education, best practices and industry hot topics related to careers in Administration, including but not limited to those working as Executive Assistants, Admin Assistants and Office Managers. Today’s Admins handle duties that have no limits in scope and as the greater Philadelphia’s most trusted Corporate Transportation partner, Kevin Smith Transportation Group is invested in supporting those who work to make sure their companies run smoothly every day.  

If you want to hire your own Personal Assistant to book ground transportation, call 610-222-6225 and speak to one of Kevin Smith Transportation Group’s Corporate Concierges who can assist you with everything from Airport Transportation, Executive Black Car Service and Employee Shuttle Services.

Among the most striking details of the corporate era depicted in the AMC series Mad Men, along with constant smoking and mid-day drinking, is the army of secretaries who populate Sterling Cooper, the 1960s ad agency featured in the show. 

The secretary of those days has gone the way of the carbon copy and been replaced by the executive assistant, now typically reserved for senior management. Technologies like e-mail, voice mail, mobile devices, and online calendars have allowed managers at all levels to operate with a greater degree of self-sufficiency. 

At the same time, companies have faced enormous pressure to cut costs, reduce headcount, and flatten organizational structures. As a result, the numbers of assistants at lower corporate levels have dwindled in most corporations. That’s unfortunate because effective assistants can make enormous contributions to productivity at all levels of the organization.

At very senior levels, the return on investment from a skilled assistant can be substantial. Consider a senior executive whose total compensation package is $1 million annually, who works with an assistant who earns $80,000. 

For the organization to break even, the assistant must make the executive 8% more productive than he or she would be working solo—for instance, the assistant needs to save the executive roughly five hours in a 60-hour workweek. In reality, good assistants save their bosses much more than that. 

They ensure that meetings begin on time with prep material delivered in advance. They optimize travel schedules and enable remote decision making, keeping projects on track. And they filter the distractions that can turn a manager into a reactive type who spends all day answering e-mail instead of a leader who proactively sets the organization’s agenda. As many C-Level Executives have said, “A top-notch assistant is crucial to being productive.”

If you want to hire your own Personal Assistant to book ground transportation, call 610-222-6225 and speak to one of Kevin Smith Transportation Group’s Corporate Concierges who can assist you with everything from Airport Transportation, Executive Black Car Service and Employee Shuttle Services.

That’s true not only for top executives. In their zeal to cut administrative expenses, many companies have gone too far, leaving countless highly paid middle and upper managers to arrange their own travel, file expense reports, and schedule meetings. 

Some companies may be drawn to the notion of egalitarianism they believe this assistant-less structure represents when workers see the boss loading paper into the copy machine, the theory goes, a “we’re all in this together” spirit is created. 

But as a management practice, the structure rarely makes economic sense. Generally speaking, work should be delegated to the lowest-cost employee who can do it well. Although companies have embraced this logic by outsourcing work to vendors or to operations abroad, back at headquarters they ignore it, forcing top talent to misuse their time. 

As one longtime recruiter of executive assistants shared with us, “I’ve worked with many organizations suffering from the same problem: There’s too much administrative work and too few assistants to whom it can be assigned.”

Granting middle managers access to an assistant or shared resources can give a quick boost to productivity even at lean, well-run companies. Firms should also think about the broader developmental benefits of providing assistance for up-and-coming managers. 

The real payoff may come when the manager arrives in a job a few levels up better prepared and habitually more productive. An experienced assistant can be particularly helpful if the manager is a new hire. 

The assistant becomes a crucial on-boarding resource, helping the manager read and understand the organizational culture, guiding him or her through its different (and difficult) personalities, and serving as a sounding board during the crucial acclimation. 

In this way, knowledgeable assistants are more than a productivity asset: They’re reverse mentors, using their experience to teach new executives how people are expected to behave at that level in the organization.

If you want to hire your own Personal Assistant to book ground transportation, call 610-222-6225 and speak to one of Kevin Smith Transportation Group’s Corporate Concierges who can assist you with everything from Airport Transportation, Executive Black Car Service and Employee Shuttle Services.

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