Behind every successful business leader is a personal or executive assistant who is constantly striving to help them run their business as effectively as possible. In the five years since Aimee Bateman set up Careercake.com, she has spoken to countless office managers, secretaries and assistants across a wide range of industries, helping them to boost their confidence, improve their job satisfaction and realise their true potential. This spring, follow her six simple steps to see how you can enjoy more career success and happiness.
1 Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses
Here’s a simple thought exercise: think about your job and write down a personal skill you think you’re great at (A), something you think you’re good at (B) and something that needs serious work (F).
Now look at your list. Your A skill doesn’t need anymore work. You already shine at diary management, for example, so all you have to do is maintain that high standard. Your F skill is clearly a struggle, but think about whether it’s key to the work you do. Your B skill is the place where you can really make a difference – if your database management is already almost there, any improvements could really get you noticed.
2 Set yourself goals and stick to them
Think about your career goals as a map from point A to point Z. Where is it that you want to go? When do you want to get there? How will you achieve this?
Speak to your boss about where you see yourself and where you want to be, then agree some key objectives and timeframes that will help you progress towards that target. Don’t forget to talk to friends and other PAs, to see if they can offer any help and advice based on how they managed to further their own careers.
Having a list of milestones that you can tick off as you complete them will provide encouragement, give you a sense of accomplishment and help build your confidence.
3 Never stop learning new things
Take the time to learn something new every day. Refining your knowledge and skills is a way to continually push yourself to improve. And it helps you gain a better understanding of what you want to do in your career.
Speaking to friends and colleagues makes it easier to discover new ways of doing things, whether it’s saving time on processes, reducing waste in the office or simplifying the steps in common tasks. Sharing ways to solve issues at work will help you and others around you, raising your profile and making you even more indispensable.
4 Establish better working relationships
Networking is one of the valuable methods to help develop your career. Talking to people from every level in your company and others like it can give you a more well-rounded understanding of how the business works – and where your opportunities are.
Not only does mixing with colleagues and influencers give you a fantastic chance to benefit from their knowledge and experience, but it also gives you a window to share your own ideas and expertise. Even if you don’t feel that comfortable speaking in social situations, with practice you’ll soon be seen, heard and valued.
5 Surround yourself with positive people
The people you are close to, inside and outside of work have a huge impact on your outlook. Enthusiastic, upbeat people instil those same positive, ‘can-do’ attitudes in those around them and can help you achieve much more. Harnessing the energy and motivation of positive people, or ‘lighters’, is invaluable in encouraging you to set ambitious goals, get noticed, and ultimately succeed. Being positive about your job and open to learning will help you find these kinds of people and create a virtuous circle that benefits all of you.
6 Empower yourself by recognising who you are
The final step takes us back to the start. Think about your strengths and weaknesses, who you are and how you want to be perceived. Recognising where you thrive and where you can improve will help you plan what you need to do to reach your goals. First impressions are critical when you want to get ahead, so consider three words you would like your colleagues and managers to associate with you, then think about what actions you can take to embody those qualities. Self-awareness is the first step to becoming the person you want to be.
One last thing – the best way to improve yourself and achieve all of the above is to recognise that you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room; you just have to be the one that pays the most attention. I’ve always tried to surround myself with people who are better than me, whether it’s at an organisation, public speaking, or learning new skills. They never fail to provide the knowledge, inspiration and motivation to achieve more. So embrace the strengths of those around you and you too can grow.