When your support team are productive, it makes your whole business more productive.
Support staff – the word is literally in the title. Whether you’re a Personal Assistant, an Executive Assistant or Admin Manager, your role is about supporting people to do their job in the easiest and most productive way they can. The job lives and breathes on efficiency – being as efficient as you can be, to make people as efficient as they can be. You see where I’m going with this.
The thing is, who supports the support staff? It’s one of life’s big questions – alongside ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg?’ and ‘seriously, why does round pizza come in a square box?’. Sure, sometimes there are junior assistants for those in a more senior role, but really, the best support comes from your peers and the sooner support staff think like a team, the sooner it starts to benefit the whole business and the people who keep it running.
Something that Emma and I always try to encourage at BOWER is this idea of collaborative working – working together and listening to learn from each other. Especially with support roles, it all comes from experience and the best lessons learned can come from observing those around you – share working styles and if you see a fellow PA doing something well, don’t be afraid to ask about it and apply that knowledge or style to your own work. By nature, good support staff want to help and they’re happy to share – throwing egos out the window and giving their top tips on how to be excellent. Mentoring can be such a career-defining (and even life-changing) experience for someone just starting out in their career or in a new company and it’s a great way to either learn, or pass on your own knowledge and experience.
Here at BOWER, we spend a lot of time with support teams through our training and development workshops and have seen entire teams work together to really bring the best out of each other – which is always so rewarding. No matter what industry, or job title, when you work together as a team, you start to notice common areas where there are gaps in knowledge. Luckily, these gaps can be filled with training that’s specific to making support staff more efficient. We can help you with the training side of things, but all you have to do is convince decision-makers to invest in that training (which can sometimes be a lot easier said than done – especially for support staff). To make a strong case, everyone has to be on the same side as there’s always more power in numbers. Work together to collate stats, data and points that show how training support staff can make the entire team within the business even more efficient. If everyone pitches the idea with the same message, it’s far more likely to get the results you want.
Training and skill-sharing aside, the best way support staff can support each other, is just to be each other’s advocate. When Emma and I first met, we were both working at a very intense (and fairly hostile) property firm. If we hadn’t pulled together and worked collaboratively, it would’ve fallen down around our ears. It was quite a competitive place and we could’ve gone against each other, but instead, we championed and supported each other throughout our time there. It was a noisy place and everyone was into their own projects and careers – but I thought Emma was amazing. I told my boss and everyone that would listen – ‘this person is amazing and you have to notice them’. Thankfully they listened and they didn’t look back. Years later, we set up our own businesses together and I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else.
These personal recommendations can go a long way for someone’s career, especially for support staff (a personal recommendation for a personal assistant is gold). This means creating solid relationships throughout your career at all points and being welcome to change. One of the best lessons we’ve learned over the years, is that it’s about listening to new ideas and breaking away from this idea of ‘I’ve been here longer and so, I know best’. When we all work together and help each other it creates a far better environment for everyone. The truth is, when things are maybe uncertain or scary, that’s the time to pull together the most and the perfect opportunity to really support each other as much as possible.
Above all this, just look out for each other. When things get stressful, pick things up where you can (and make sure to ask for help when you get stressed or feel burnout coming on). No-one knows the role of support staff like other support staff and sometimes, just having someone to talk to who has experienced the same thing can lighten the load. It’s in the best interest of each person at all levels of the business that support staff are working at their most productive – because when they’re more efficient, the whole business is more efficient.