Communication is the Key!
Good Communication is a skill and with any skill it takes experience and practice to be good at it...
I think it is safe to say that communication is the most important aspect of any effective working relationship
Good Communication is a skill and with any skill it takes experience and practice to be good at it. There are many communication channels to use to effectively communicate with your boss, whether it is telephones, emails, Whatsapp messages, face to face, carrier pigeon etc.
Face to Face Communication
The old school way!. More and more assistants do not have face to face communication with their bosses on a regular basis. This could be due to the location of said Executive, certainly many more assistants are working remotely. It could be how often they travel or it could be that they have never arranged one to one meetings. Whatever the reason, I think it is really important that you meet with your boss to have face to face meetings as often as possible.
There are many benefits to face to face communication. It is easy to misinterpret communication via email or over the phone. Face to face allows both the Assistant and Executive to express themselves through facial expressions, body language and eye contact. Humor and other key aspects of relationship building will happen more effectively if you are able to speak to each other in the same room. If you do work remotely from your boss try arranging a video conference call so that you can see each other on a regular basis.
Scheduling a time for a face to face is important, you want to do it when your boss is in the best mood. Meaning don’t put a meeting in just after a long board meeting or important client meeting. For me first thing worked well, before the day got – but that really depends if your Executive is a morning person! Remember to always go into every meeting prepared. Know exactly what you want to achieve from the meeting, keep it short and concise and don’t waste any of their time.
I would imagine that not many Assistants use the telephone much these days for communicating with their Boss. By telephone I do mean making the actual call, not texting. So why is it still useful, its nice to hear someone’s voice and in the absence of a face to face meeting it can an effective way to quickly communicate actions and make decisions. When your Executive is travelling extensively overseas, giving them a quick call is a really nice way of checking in and letting them hear a familiar voice. In terms of building a good working relationship a telephone call every now and then works wonders.
It is quick, easy, you don’t have to get out of your seat, you can track responses and have a written record of what has been discussed and agreed. Email certainly has its place as an effective communication tool and I fully expect assistants to email their bosses on a daily basis.
However, it is worth remembering that on average business folk receive around 300 emails per week, so obviously we all send way too many emails to each other and it may be the case that emails are becoming a less effective. Try to consolidate your communication so that you are not constantly pinging off emails for various requests.
Can you send one or two emails to them per day either answering their questions or requiring a decision? This will ensure that your Boss reads your message because they will know it contains information that is important. Always keep email messages concise and to the point and use specific subject headings. As an assistant you are constantly in your bosses inbox so you already know the best time to send emails to get the answers you need.
Texting, Whatsapp and social media communication
Quick, informal messaging tools that help you keep in touch with your Executive are great and really useful. I would suggest if you are going to use a messaging service stick to just one. Use too many and you may find you forget which platform the message has come through and so might you Boss. The very nature of messaging technology means that you will have a much more informal way of communicating with your boss which I think is a good thing. Helpful reminders, urgent updates during meetings, or a simple ‘hello, how is everything going?’ text why they are travelling will really build the rapport you both need to work effectively together.
Although messaging platforms encourage informality just remember that they are still your boss and a little formality is important! Also, don’t use messaging services for anything too complicated – use email or face to face for complex communications.
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