Soft Skills That Make for a Great Assistant.

Not everyone can be an administrative assistant. It takes a very specific set of skills to assist an executive or manager. The following soft skills make for a great assistant: time management, project management, strong communication, and active listening skills, as well as common sense, a flexible personality, attention to detail, natural curiosity and research ability.

1. Curiosity and Research Ability An assistant with a natural curiosity and research ability benefits the executive or manager in many ways. The perfect candidate is someone who reads a lot, gathers information and builds bridges between ideas. Executives and managers dream of the kind of assistant who reads trade news, keeps him or her up-to-date, points out networking connections that should be made, and research the boss’s new ideas with vigor.

2. Attention to Detail with a Great Sense of Urgency The great executive assistant must be meticulous in all things. However tiny, details are expected never to go without notice. Assistants must pride themselves on noticing things others do not. All those arguments about work-life balance? A great assistant is the key to helping an executive or manager achieve it. When a great assistant respects his or her boss’s need to balance work with their family or private life, he or she approaches the details of the boss’s day with urgency and accuracy. Arrive well before the boss does, stay after the boss is gone to prepare for the next day, and work their calendar with proper planning and recommendations.

3. Common Sense Despite what the name implies, common sense is rare. The great assistant is capable of filling in the gaps and demonstrating initiative. When given incomplete ideas, the assistant uses knowledge of his or her company and boss to round them out, all while keeping the executive informed and in approval along the way.

4. Active Listening Skills with Vision for the Future Listening leads to learning. While most people are “hard of listening” rather than “hard of hearing,” the great assistant processes information quickly and boldly asks questions to fill in his or her understanding. When an assistant understands the direction his or her boss is heading in and the strategy behind every move the executive or manager makes, the assistant will be able to have a greater impact on this growing partnership. Ultimately, the assistant will accurately anticipate what goes next.

5. Flexible Personality A great assistant must have the ability to interact with all people. Whether you meet in person or over the phone, the assistant must build rapport. With as many unique personalities as an assistant must deal with, he or she must be able to build rapport in a number of ways. An assistant must remain flexible and patient with all people.

6. Strong Communications Skills Communication is key. Understanding and conveying information between people is absolutely invaluable. There’s perhaps nothing in the world more valuable to customers, clients and business partners than understanding and being understood. Strong communications skills could be the difference between your legacy as “The Greatest Assistant Ever” and “What was their name again?”

7. Time Management Skills A great assistant needs to know how to prioritize and keep things on schedule because the job of assisting an executive or manager includes scheduling his or her meetings, events and other means of spending time. An executive assistant works with his or her boss to understand priorities and help manage daily scheduling so that the executive can spend more of his or her valuable time on long-term goal planning and setting.

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