Habits of a Successful Assistant

We all have our own work habits – some good and some possibly not so great. Your habits should improve your efficiency, your effectiveness and help you grow further in your career. If they aren’t and your motivation and productivity are at an all-time low, then you need to rid yourself of the bad habits and start adopting some good ones! So then, what are the good habits of a successful assistant?

Upcoming Course: The South African Ultimate Personal Assistant

Through our research, we’ve identified 9 important habits all successful assistants have in common.

1. Develop your interpersonal skills:

As an administrative professional, you encounter so many different people every day. Knowing how to communicate effectively with these people is essential. Make an effort to speak to various people and learn how they each communicate. By developing these skills you will be confident to speak to anyone, in any situation, without feeling overwhelmed.

Networking and showing a genuine interest in people will create allies and strong professional relationships. There will always come a time when you need a little help. You want to make sure that you have the right people that you can depend on. Isn’t there a saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

2. Heighten your listening skills:

Listening is often one of the biggest challenges and obstacles for effective communication. Most misunderstandings occur due to the lack of listening and for administrative professionals, listening is a critical aspect of your job.

By working on your listening skills, you will have a better understanding of how to handle each task or project. Effective listening goes a long way to prevent making unnecessary ‘oopsies’ and annoying your manager.

3. Multi-task like a pro:

Excelling in this habit will allow you to keep tabs on a variety of tasks. Successful multi-taskers ensure nothing falls through the cracks and always know what’s happening in all the different spheres of their lives.

Adapting a bullet-proof time management plan and sticking to it, is essential to multi-task like a pro. Prioritising and planning your tasks is essential before going all in and will help you get a lot more done, with a lot less stress.

4. Always be punctual and reliable:

Always being punctual and reliable can go a long way to bolster your reputation. Like with most things, practice makes perfect and with enough practice, you’ll be able to turn it into a habit.

Being punctual and reliable will help you meet your deadlines, keep your manager’s schedule up to date, and constantly perform your tasks at a high standard. More importantly, your manager will know that he/she can count on you for anything.

5. Develop your organisational skills:

Most of your day-to-day tasks include organising things like meetings, calendars, tasks and documents. By demonstrating good organisational skills you will come across as a competent employee and someone who works efficiently and effectively to get all necessary tasks done.

Having strong organisational skills also reduces the time wasted on dealing with clutter or unnecessary tasks.

6. Digest information on behalf of your manager:

A very handy habit to develop is the ability to digest vast amounts of information so that your manager doesn’t have to. An example is being able to read a 6-page document and transform it into a concise 1 pager for your manager.

This ‘superpower’ will ensure that you can help your manager make quick and effective decisions as you deal with cleaning out the clutter.

7. Hold your manager accountable:

One important habit all successful assistants have in common is that that they’re able to hold their manager’s accountable. This means giving them some pressure to get things done. This includes giving deadlines, following up and making sure your manager understands what tasks are priorities.

Your manager might be your boss, but you are responsible for managing and holding them accountable to achieve their targets.

8. If need be, get your hands dirty:

Successful assistants aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. They’re eager to take on any new and extra tasks, even ones that seem small and trivial, to make a positive difference.

Make a point to see if the little things need to be done, such as changing the printer toner or filling up the kettle. This will show others that you are a team player and someone who is willing to help wherever needed. Just a word of caution, be careful not to continuously do those tasks as some of your colleagues might take advantage and expect you to always do it in future.

9. Learn to bounce back:

Everyone has bad days. Obviously, you want to try keeping them to a minimum but when they inevitably do happen, don’t take your manager’s criticism as a personal attack. Constructive criticism is actually healthy and can help you to grow and develop further in your career.

The key is learning from your mistakes and making sure that you prevent doing them again.

Upcoming Course: Adam Fidler’s ‘The Indispensable Executive Assistant’

Bad habits can hinder your performance and hold you back from realising your true potential. Staying focused and adopting the habits mentioned, will improve your efficiency and give you a more positive outlook on your job. You will also more than likely gain more respect from your peers, but more importantly, gain the reputation as a successful assistant!

The Indispensable Executive Assistant


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