No matter what kind of assistant role you are in, we all generally move at a fast pace and have constant requests for our attention. Unfortunately, all the hurry and influx can set us up to miss clues for opportunities to be proactive with assistance.
I see moments when I find opportunities to help the people I support (as well as others) before they think to assign the task to me as little gems. These gems are exciting moments to not only have the opportunity to show initiative but also to show a deeper level of care through work.
The desire for a human connection at work is becoming more evident these days (source: Entrepreneur). By learning to hone in on subtle signals in which you can provide assistance you are not only uncovering the hidden gems, you also are demonstrating that you care. You are caring beyond baseline expectations and seizing a chance to foster meaningful connections with your principal or colleague.
Being in a support role puts you at the forefront to provide a wider range of impact. Other roles have more specialized functions and more often than not those individuals stay in a small radius during work hours; assistants generally have plenty of chances to interact with almost everyone around them. Essentially we are the lucky ones that have opportunities to make the most people feel cared about and foster bonds through what we do every day.
I interviewed someone once who told me about a time that completely embodied this ability. The executive she previously supported had an extremely busy day coming up and unfortunately wound up having zero buffer time in between equally important scheduled commitments. She took it upon herself to come into work extra early that day and set up his office with the utmost care so he could find the following all laid out upon arrival that morning: a freshly pressed suit, shined shoes, a bagged lunch that didn’t require heating, all required printed documents for his meetings and other printouts that she thought there was a possibility he might need as well. He didn’t ask for most of these things, and he certainly didn’t expect for the items he had requested to be ready at such an early hour, but she had learned how to be aware and think about what would make him feel completely looked after. This example was a big one, however noticing smaller ways to assist, such as bringing someone else’s printouts to their desk when you pick up your own from a shared printer, can show others that you care as well.
Here are some general situations to help you to be vigilant for your own gems:
In Meetings. When you are in meetings on behalf of or with the person you support, you get great insights on action items, general happenings and more.
Looking ahead in calendars. I’m sure all of you already look ahead in the calendar of the person you support but think about all calendars you have access to. If you work in a corporate environment, is there a company event calendar you could keep tabs on? If you work in a private household, are there school calendars or staff schedules you could monitor?
General conversations. Sometimes a casual catch up conversation with an employee can end up providing insight on general happenings or feedback that can help you to anticipate needs for the person you support, your team or more.
The space around you. You might be in charge of doing daily walk-throughs of the office or home that you work in. Whether it’s part of your regular routine or not, do your best to be involved in as much of the area that surrounds you as possible and keep your eyes peeled for opportunities in which you can leave your mark.
Proactive service is a skill that takes time to hone in on, especially amongst constant influx. Practice bringing more intention to your attention so key moments to be anticipatory are not missed. You will make yourself a much more valuable assistant and will allow for deeper connections with those you work with.
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