How the executive assistant meaningfully affects company culture

In many companies, the executive assistant role often is part “mother hen.” Most are people-oriented and have high emotional intelligence, so it’s a natural fit. In addition to managing the CEO’s schedule, getting to know as many team members as possible and keeping a pulse on the company culture the EA offers tremendous value to the C-suite.

Who is getting married? Who is having a baby? Who is struggling with a spouse’s illness or isn’t happy in their current role? This is not about being nosy or gossiping. It’s about helping your CEO stay engaged with the team. As the company grows, the CEO often is traveling more or there are so many new team members, it’s hard to keep track of everyone.

When I was the executive assistant to the CEO, I had the privilege of having not only behind-the-scenes access to the innerworkings of the company but the team trusted me. There were times when I certainly danced my way through tough answers as the gatekeeper, but my ability to be their direct line to the CEO fostered a great relationship with the team.

There are simple things I did. When I knew of good news or bad news, I always made sure the executive team and more important, my CEO knew what was going on. I am a firm believer that when your head isn’t 100 percent in the game, your work product is affected. To get an email from the CEO simply stating, “Hey, I heard you are going through some hard times. If I can ever be of help, please call me directly,” – with the CEO’s cell number – can be a game changer for that person. Sound crazy? The return on investment from team members, because of that two-minute email, lasted forever. The team member can take a breath knowing that something outside of work might be very stressful, but work is your safe place.

Other ways an executive assistant can help move culture along is by keeping an ear to the ground and finding great team members who weren’t necessarily in the right role. I had the luxury, because my company cared, to set up one-on-one lunches with employees and the executive I believed could best mentor and coach them. I felt like a fairy, with a wand who was able to help many team members simply by listening and responding. I often blocked time on calendars for the executive team to do a lap around the office to say hello, plan impromptu happy hours or host offsite events.

In the grand scheme of things, a great CEO is a regular person who really cares about his or her team. Sometimes workloads, meetings and travel can get in the way. It was my job to make team members a priority and I took great pride in that mother-hen role. More importantly, my CEO knew he could count on me to keep him connected with the team, regardless of where they live or how big the company grew.

Joelle Paban & Associates connects top talent with precise positions and organizations, in the Tampa Bay area since 2014. Working with leading businesses and elite-level employees throughout the area, Paban has assembled an affiliation of hundreds of executive assistants encompassing various levels of experience, skill sets and expertise within a multitude of businesses and professional fields. Contact her at [email protected].

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