How to Work in Partnership With Your Executive Assistant

By Robert Half August 8, 2019 at 8:00am

Ask OfficeTeam Executive Director Stephanie Naznitsky for her secret to success, and she won’t hesitate to answer. She’ll point to her relationship with her executive assistant, Lani Sykora.

“Lani doesn’t just manage my calendar, oversee my travel logistics and create expense reports — she’s my partner,” Stephanie says. “We’re in this together, and there is such tremendous value in our partnership. She keeps me balanced as we maneuver through the business.”

That may not be surprising when you consider that the role of an executive assistant includes performing a wide variety of tasks for executive management. Working with someone so closely and in such diverse ways calls for a professional who’s a good communicator, troubleshooter and problem-solver. They also need strong organizational abilities, technical proficiencies and discretion regarding confidential matters.

The role of an executive assistant has changed over the years, of course. It’s no longer the secretary sitting outside the boss’s office door. For Stephanie and Lani, their offices are in different states — Stephanie’s in Pennsylvania and Lani’s in Ohio — and they see each other in person only twice a year. Stephanie manages operations for OfficeTeam’s 300 locations worldwide, so she travels often. The two stay in communication using all the tools of modern technology.

Tips to create dynamic partnerships

Whether they work remotely or side by side, executives and their assistants should make an effort to support each other. Both Stephanie and Lani offer suggestions for managers who want to build partnerships with their support staff:

  • Hire someone with skills you might not have. While you want to find someone with a personality and work style that’s consistent with your own, you also want to think about the qualities you may lack.
  • Be good communicators. Whether it’s in person or by phone, email or text, quality communication and a high level of rapport is key in an effective partnership. “We talk all the time and email throughout the day,” Lani says. “If it’s something immediate, we jump on the phone.”
  • Allow your assistant to make decisions. What used to be a task-oriented role is now elevated to one where the assistant is encouraged to take initiative and offer high-level administrative and strategic support.

Read our tips on how to hire a great executive assistant now!

Benefits of a good relationship

Stephanie and Lani talk often about their shared endeavors. Stephanie collaborates and delegates important projects to Lani, and Lani takes on those responsibilities with a high level of resourcefulness.

“We go back and forth with our thoughts and opinions,” Lani says. “We know each other’s expectations and depend on one another to achieve results.”

Stephanie says she’s grateful for the relationship and its impact, both in her personal life and the workplace. “We mesh very well, and with our different strengths, we balance each other. Lani’s support was instrumental in helping navigate the first few months in my new role. She helped me maneuver through a variety of new situations and was by my side every step of the way. She continues to do so as we build our business together."

Finding the right match

Identifying an executive assistant who is the right fit can be challenging. But in the long run, establishing a partnership like Stephanie’s and Lani’s can increase a team’s productivity and job satisfaction, reduce stress, and have a positive impact on a department or company.

“When people hire, skill set is certainly important,” Stephanie says, “but what’s most important in an executive assistant is personality, drive and motivation. With Lani, we have different roles, but we’re moving toward the same goal. We know where we’re headed and what that means to the growth of our business.”

Check out all of the administrative and front office support positions OfficeTeam places.

Stephanie Naznitsky

Stephanie Naznitsky is the executive director of OfficeTeam, the world’s largest specialized temporary staffing service for administrative professionals. She is based in the Greater Philadelphia area and manages operations for the company’s 300 locations worldwide.

Lani Skyora headshot

Lani Sykora is an executive assistant for OfficeTeam and is based in Columbus, Ohio. She’s held various administrative roles since she began her career with Robert Half in 2002.

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