The processes of being an assistant
Let's face it, being an assistant can be very demanding. It's hard enough as it is; but when one doesn't have the proper onboarding, then the job is even more demanding.
When training a new assistant -- whether it's a PA or an Executive Assistant, be sure to discuss the processes of your company in order to reduce stress for the new administrative professional.
A personal assistant should never be thrown to the wolves on the first day of work because they should be set up for success.
Key people at the company
Whether the assistant is working in a private family office or in a corporate environment, the PA needs to know who the most important people in the company are. If, for example, the Chairman of the Board were to walk in or call, then the assistant should know both their name and their face.
Know the company hierarchy
In addition to knowing the bigger players in the household or company, knowing the chain of command is important as well. There will, no doubt, come a time when things get very busy and "the fog of war" will confuse the assistant and he or she will become flustered. Knowing whose orders are the most important can make or break last minute deadlines when the break-neck pressure is on. For example, if the PA has conflicting instructions from the Butler and the Estate Manager, she should know who supersedes whom.
Your household's work style
No two households are alike just as no two companies are alike. Processes in one mansion differ from that in other estates. So, what can you do? Your assistant should be acclimated to and familiar with the household manual so that she has the resources to solve problems quickly. Also, be frank with her to say how you like things done. You can't hold an assistant accountable if they don't even know what the expectations are in the first place.
Be on the same page with calendar management
Any executive personal assistant worth her salt will be proficient in Microsoft Office, which means handling calendars is part of the role; however, each VIP has ways that they like to be communicated with. One high-net-worth individual in Finance may like a lot of notes about the appointments on the calendar, while another celebrity CEO may want something more minimal. Get your assistant on the same page with how you like things done.
Assistants should know the company's lingo
All industries have domain-specific vocabulary, including acronyms. Make sure your assistant has a crash course in the most important of them. If she's taking messages about your upcoming meeting and someone starts barraging her with vocabulary she doesn't know, then important information will get lost in translation. Whatever it takes, make sure the assistant is armed with the information that she needs to be successful from day one. When assistants have the proper training, it makes everyone's life easier.
Adapted from Inc's processes
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Written for assistants and estate managers working for celebrities, CEOs, UHNW families, billionaires and royalty