The aim of this essay is to provide a discussion on the skills requirement to effectively carry out my role as an Executive Assistant. In order to achieve this, practical references will be made to the role of an executive assistant to the Sales manager at Tesco Plc. In order to have a clearer understanding of my role as an executive assistant and subsequent skills, a brief description of the organisation will be provided.
Background Information of Tesco Plc
Tesco is known as one of the world's largest retailers with operations in about 14 countries and employs over 500,000 people who serve millions of customers on a weekly basis (Tesco PLc, 2012). The company is growth focused hence relies strongly on its sales department to achieve its vision of market dominance.
The role of an executive assistant
An Executive Assistant is one who provides high level professional support service mainly at senior level. They also provide executive assistance, personal assistance as well as administrative & support services to small companies and individuals who do not want incur the overhead cost of employing a full time complement business support team, but requires all the support such a team have to offer (Kozami, 2002).
The role of the executive assistant cannot be over emphasised in any organisation. This according to to Kozami (2002) involves assisting the Chief Executive the collection and analysing of data, providing alternatives where decisions are required, providing proposals briefs where necessary and a whole bunch of other duties. However, a role that can be consider to be the most important for executive Assistants is that of a corporate planner ( Executive Assistant, 2012).
However, for the purpose of this essay, the skills required in fulfilling the responsibilities outlined below will be discussed;
supporting systems and processes in your department
advising your line manager on how to develop an appropriate office environment
organising business meetings and events for your department
supporting your line manager in planning and conducting projects and managing small-scale internal projects independently
managing your line manager's and your own diary
communicate effectively and appropriately at your work place
Supporting system and processes
A major responsibility I expect to fulfil in my role as an executive assistant to the sales manager of Tesco Plc is to support the processes that lead to efficient and effective sales in the organisation. This role which involves an in-depth understanding of the nature of Tesco businesses, market information such as current consumer shopping trends, competitors and developing ideas that could enhances the sales of the company's product requires the acquisition of some core skills in order to be fulfilled successfully.
These skills include having a proactive disposition (France, 2009).
This is because in order for an assistant to be successful in providing timely and adequate support to the sales department, one needs to be able to anticipate issues that could arise and prepare a solution ahead of time as opposed to waiting for unpleasant situations to occur that could hinder the company's sales before brainstorming for solutions.
Advising line manager on developing an appropriate office environment
Studies have shown that the physical environment in which employees work in have either a positive or negative effect in their level of commitment (McGuire & McLaren, 2007). This is because an office environment in which employees feel safe is likely to motivate them to be more productive as oppose to a layout that demoralises them. It is therefore my responsibility as an executive assistant to advise my line manager on the most appropriate office layout that will motivate all employees (Eley et al, 2000).
In order to be able to advice a line manager, it is important to possess the self confidence skills (France, 2009). This is because before I can advise my Line Manager on important organisational issues, I must learn to understand and have faith in my capabilities and trust that the Manager will take positive consideration to my suggestions.
Another important skill required to fully satisfy this role is to understand the working style of the Line Manager (France, 2009). This considered important as a proper understanding of the working style of the line manager will enable me as an executive assistant to carry out my duties in ways that will harmonise with that of the Manager. An implication of this on the role to advice on the office environment will mean to study his mood and desired process for raising new ideas.
It is also necessary to possess the accountability skill when intending to advise a Line manager on organisational issues as it will enhance the level of trust the manager places on an executive assistant. This may be attributed to the fact that the executive assistant will not try to blame another person if the suggestion provided does not go as intended.
In addition, to be able to provide a thorough and well put together advise on the office environment, it is expected that I utilise my communication skills in retrieving important feedbacks on the current environment from other employees and subsequent changes that they desire to take place.
Organising business meetings and events for your department
One of the major duties of any executive assistant is to organise and management business meetings and other events both in the department and the organisation at large ( France, 2009). This is because in order for departmental goals to be achieved such as meeting high sales volume in the sales department in Tesco Plc, different meetings to discuss strategies , team build- up and sales promotion events which involves both internal and external attendees are likely to take place.
In order to effectively carry out this responsibility, which most times may involve, presentation slides in PowerPoint, flow charts or team display, video conferencing amongst others, there are certain skills I am expected to posses. One of these skills involves the ability to clearly discern the necessity of the event/ meeting. This because one of the roles of the assistant is to help the organisation maximise its potential while reducing the waste of resources (Heller & Hindle, 1998).
In addition, the skills to effectively plan the required budget and program of the meeting/event is highly needed (Heller & Hindle, 1998). The skill to ensure that invitations o the meetings/.event are sent out well on time is also essential. An implication of this the need to effectively put to use effective time management skills as may be required (France, 2009).
As the event/ meeting organiser, the skill to multi task is very desirable as the executive assistant needs to ensure that the event is less rigid and boring hence may involve event team who will provide social skills needed for the registration desk, IT skills for the equipment room as on.
An important skill required during the meeting/event is the ability to write minutes in clear terms. This is considered important as the written minutes will serve as a reference point to future meetings as well as a reminder to the line manager on the occurrences at the meeting (Gutmann, 2010).
Supporting your line manager in planning and conducting projects and managing small-scale internal projects independently
The role of an executive assistant is constantly linked the provision of support in the planning and conducting of major organisational projects. In the case of Tesco Plc's sales department, the project could be linked to the development of new distribution routes. In order to effectively carry out these responsibilities, it is important that I understand the details of the project as this will enable me as an executive assistant to provide an informed support where necessary. Another important skill is the ability to communicate with other people involved in the project (France, 2009). This is considered important as it is expected that the executive assistant may need to make some decisions on behalf of the Line managers hence need be able to communicate with other employees when necessary.
In order to provide adequate and timely support, it is also important to understand the work style of the manager so as not carry out support duties in contrary to the line manager's style. In providing planning support, it is essential to possess efficient planning skills which include the ability to plan the budget, staff, as well as monitoring the project to a successful completion (Muslin, 2007).
Consequently, there are times the executive assistant may be required to manage a small-scale internal project without direct supervision, in order to satisfy this responsibility successful, it is essential that I utilise by self-confidence skill as this is essential to build my motivation and believe in myself to produce the desired outcome (Muslin, 2007). The time-management skill also becomes a useful tool in this instance since I an expected to complete the project within a specified time frame. In managing a small-scale project, it is expected that I may be face difficult colleagues which may in turn result to work place conflict. It is therefore essential to possess some conflict resolution skills such as sound anger management, and assertiveness (France, 2009).
Managing your line manager's and your own diary
Another important role of an executive assistant is to manage the day to day itinerary of the boss as well as keeping up with other personal duties. It is therefore my responsibility to ensure that the sales manager attend all meetings, return phone calls. In order to be successful in carrying out this responsibility, it is essential to have the ability to multi task as the duty involves fulfilling two import duties simultaneously.
Another important skill required to carry out this responsibility to prioritise the duties making sure important items in both diaries are carried out first before less important ones (France, 2009). This is necessary so as to enable me and the boss to have a work-life balance. Hence it may be necessary to come up with a weekly priority matrix which constitute of my work and personal activities and that of the line manager.
Subsequently the need to effectively manage my time and that of the line manager in the work environment becomes a skill one cannot do without. This according to France (2009) is necessary to foster a good working relationship between the boss and the executive assistant as well as ensuring that daily duties are carried out in satisfied manner.
Communicate effectively and appropriately at your work place
Effective communication is an essential skill required at all level of the organisation. The executive assistant is expected to communicate with colleagues within and outside the department as well as outside the office environment on behalf of the boss. In order to effectively carry out this role it is essential to speak in clear terms so as avoid misrepresentation (France, 2009).
Furthermore, it is important to speak in unassuming tones, as people are likely t misinterpret high tones for anger if when it is not intended. As an executive assistant to the sales manager of Tesco Plc, it is essential to have the ability to use the internet as this is necessary to carry out market research, and also communicate via email, video conferencing and other web based social communication medium such as Twitter and face book.
The aim of this write up was to discuss the skills required to carry out the roles of an executive assistant in relation to specific responsibilities. In order to achieve this aim, Tesco Plc was used as a background work environment in which the executive assistant to a sales manager was required to carry out the specified responsibilities.