What are executive assistant goals examples? How can the SMART goals method help EAs and other team members redefine goal setting and improve results? Read on to learn more!
Understanding SMART Goals for Executive Assistants
Today, SMART goals are so well-known in the corporate world. This system changed the way that companies fundamentally set and track goals. George Doran and a couple others in the 80s created the SMART goal framework. They built it as a better way for people to formulate their goals in a much more concrete way.
SMART is an acronym that stands for the five key components of good goals, according to the system. These components are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (or Time-based).
A goal must be simple, straightforward, and to the point. It also must be something comprehensible and tangible. Set too broad of a goal and you and your team might feel overwhelmed. By focusing on a particular area, you also allow yourself to aim for a particular outcome.
You need to have a way to track the progress of your goal. It’s hard to know how close you are to the finish line if you can’t quantify the growth. You can do this by setting KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and milestones. You can also set up a point of comparison, like statistics from a previous year or data from competition.
SMART goal setting is all about acting on information to increase your chances of success. In other words, creating a reasonable goal is about data-driven decision making.
When creating your goals, assess the resources you have at your disposal. Do you have the time, money, and manpower to make this work? It’s also important to think about how many steps there are to the process. It’s okay to give yourself a challenge. Ambitious goals can certainly increase individual and team motivation. However, by leveraging data, you can make practical decisions and set yourself up for success.
The smaller goals you set must directly contribute to a personal overall goal or company mission. They need to align with not only your personal values but also the mission, vision, and core values of the business. Consider both the short-term and long-term benefits of undertaking certain tasks.
Time-bound / Time-based
Not everyone likes deadlines, but they are necessary when setting goals. If you set a deadline too far into the future, you run the risk of going off track or getting complacent. If you set too short of a deadline, you may not finish anything substantial. It’s important to set both short-term deadlines that measure progress. You should also have an expectation of a final date for the overall results. Be realistic about your timetables. Remember, you want to create pressure, not anxiety. Give yourself room for learning curves and errors.
Importance of SMART Goals for EAs
Setting vague goals can be a bane to actual progress. Say you’re an entrepreneur and made it your mission to “make the workplace a safe space”. It’s a great goal, but where do you go from there? How will you go about it? In what way does what you do contribute to that goal? What’s the timeline?
If you don’t have answers to these questions, it becomes less of a goal and closer to wishful thinking.
Being SMART is about breaking the big dream up into manageable pieces. Think of it like breaking down a dish into a recipe. Only looking at the completed dish can’t tell you enough to recreate it. For that, you need the exact ingredients, portions, and how to combine them. You won’t be able to tell cooking temperatures or cooking time, either. If you only focus on the finished product, you might still end up with something that looks similar. You will have something that is potentially entirely different in substance, though.
The SMART method helps you break things down into processes, components and the order of operation. Not only that, but it also helps you understand the tools, skills, and time needed to complete a task.
Let’s look at some common EA goals and later, how we can use the SMART method to break them down into something more attainable.
Executive Assistant Goals, Examples, and Key Areas
Admin and back-office tasks are some of the most outsourced. A primary reason for this has to do with the amount of time it takes to finish these tasks. These tasks can often be tedious, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t vital to business operations. The more efficiently EAs do these tasks, the quicker they can move on to other tasks on their daily checklist.
These tasks include things like email management, call screening, file organization, and other office operations. An EA must also know how to leverage AI and other software to improve productivity.
Scheduling involves several skills, including time management, communication, planning, and organization. Expertise in this area comes with a lot of experience coordinating with people and arranging meetings and events.
The ability to self-manage is also crucial. It becomes easier to know how to handle another person’s calendar if you are a master of your own time.
Bookkeeping and Budget Management
Sometimes EAs will have to handle some financial management tasks. The level of expertise that an EA has in these areas varies. If you want someone with more in-depth skill and specialization, you need to specify this in the job description.
Executives will often ask their EAs to go on errands and spend for a variety of different things. For business transactions, this puts them in a unique position to observe the amount of money they spend. This proximity allows them to help suggest alternative ways to spend money more efficiently and reduce costs. Some bookkeeping tasks include:
- Compiling receipts (physical and digital)
- Recording payments and creating journal entries
- Managing accounts payable and receivable
- Creating expense reports
Travel and Accommodations Planning
An EA must know how to arrange for an executive’s business and personal trips. This type of planning has a lot of moving parts. With each part, the EA must keep cost-effectiveness in mind as well as comfort and safety in mind.
First, an EA must think about logistics. They need to book tickets and research prices to find the best deals. Transport between locations is also important. Do they need to rent a car during their stay or will they go for other methods like taxi, Uber, or Lift? Another thing is food and accommodation. An EA must familiarize themselves with the hotels, restaurants, and cafes in the area and what they offer. They also need to discern if they should make reservations far ahead of time.
Examples of SMART Goals for Executive Assistants
Let’s go over some executive assistant goals examples and apply the SMART method.
General Goal: Enhance Meeting Efficiency
- Specific – Keep meetings to 30 minutes at the maximum and satisfy all important topics.
- Measurable – Meet the requirements of topics needing resolution, progress updates, and new actions.
- Achievable – We can prepare better each time and learn more precise communication to reduce meeting times by 10 minutes until they meet the goal.
- Relevant – This will improve productivity and work satisfaction, which contributes to our core value of work-life balance.
- Time-bound – We will achieve this goal within 2 months or after 5 meetings, whichever comes first.
General Goal: Improve Technical Skills
- Specific – Reach 2 levels higher on skills assessment tests for administrative tasks.
- Measurable – Use the skills assessment tests provided alongside the training materials to determine skill levels.
- Achievable – We can enroll in courses to train up in specific skills.
- Relevant – This will help us align with the vision of the agency to provide the best virtual administrative support in the country.
- Time-bound – We will achieve this goal within 6 months; the exact time it takes to complete the courses and assessments.
Strategies for Successful Goal Setting and Achievement
If the SMART method doesn’t work for you, don’t worry. There are multiple other goal-setting methods and alternatives you can try. And yes, taking the time to figure out which method helps you produce the best results is a worthwhile investment. (Or should we say a “relevant” investment?)
Regardless of what method you choose there are some universal things to consider when creating goals.
As an EA, you are a bridge between executives, managers, and workers. Improved communication starts with observation and feedback. Let executives know that you care about improving processes and elevating business operations. Bring up areas that can be improved and make suggestions. It’s also important to open up dialogue with other assistants and team members and get their input.
Flexibility in Goal-making
Sometimes, there are circumstances that call for a change or modification of plans. This can be like a shift in business priority where the budget gets allocated somewhere else. Flexible goal setting is knowing there are multiple ways to reach a desired outcome and finding them. It’s about maintaining the objective but reaching it via other means.
Whatever the project, you should always have a performance assessment to determine the effectiveness of methods used. This allows you to recalibrate goals as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can EAs balance personal and professional development goals?
An effective way to do this is by prioritizing executive assistant goals examples that will help you in both personal and professional settings. Find overlaps and improve your efficiency in those areas. By focusing on efficiency, you get stuff done faster, giving yourself time to focus on achieving other goals.
How can EAs track and measure the success of their goals?
Setting milestones, determining KPIs, and following a timeline are all great ways to make goals measurable. It’s also important to set expectations based on whether a goal is short-term or long-term.
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SMART goal setting provides a framework and foundation for tackling larger tasks. By breaking large goals down into smaller manageable milestones, teams and individuals have a place to start building. Simplify complex executive assistant goals examples by working SMARTer, not harder.