Asking for feedback is key to business success, but often those questions stop when it comes to leadership. As leaders, it’s part of your job to provide feedback to your team so that they can continue to grow into the employee your company needs, but when was the last time you asked for feedback in return?
Growth doesn’t stop once you accept a management role. In fact, growth should accelerate when you start to lead others, and the easiest way to grow is through feedback. The problem is, you can’t just ask any employee and expect them to give you honest answers (no one wants to risk their job). But, the good news is, leaders have a trusted source closer than they think. That source is their executive assistant. So that’s why we are discussing the seven questions leaders should be asking their assistant to accelerate growth.
What can I do to be a better leader?
Why: We have all seen those dramatized leaders in movies that are often hated by their team. While we know that most leaders don’t often resemble Miranda Priestly from “The Devil Wears Prada,” it is still important to ask for this kind of feedback. We can’t always see our own flaws, but seeking the opinion of someone you trust (like your executive assistant) can help bring those issues to light. Once you know where the problems are, you can work on them and grow.
What can I do to help you be more successful?
Why: This question almost seems like a no-brainer, but it is often underutilized. The ultimate goal is for leaders and their executive assistants to be successful in their day-to-day. When everyone is successful, the company is successful. Unfortunately, things like stress, burnout, being busy, and more can get in the way of that success. For example, maybe you gave your assistant a project they have no idea how to complete with very vague instructions that you thought were clear enough. Unfortunately, the lack of clear instructions could cause your assistant to keep procrastinating on the task. As a leader, you’re bound to wonder why. This problem could easily be solved with a little more training or communication. When you ask your assistant this question, you are able to find out how to empower your assistant to do more and ensure the success of future projects.
What is one thing I could do to make your job less stressful?
Why: Nobody’s perfect. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a leader for a month or a decade; there are going to be times when you could be doing things to make the life of your assistant easier. At first, you might be thinking, wait, I thought their job was to make my life easier? And while it is true that assistants make the lives of executives easier, there is nothing wrong with returning that favor. Your assistant will be working on so many projects at the same time that they have perfected the art of juggling, but if you could do one simple thing such as giving clearer instructions, wouldn’t you? Take a moment to ask your executive assistant what you could be doing to make their job less stressful, and you might be surprised what you hear.
What is one thing you wish I would keep doing?
Why: Just like there are little things that your executive assistant does that you really enjoy, there are things that you do that really help them thrive. And who doesn’t want their employees to thrive? Leaders do so many things in a single day; they may have no idea what does and doesn’t help their assistant. So why not ask?
What is something you would like to do in your role that you aren’t currently doing?
Why: When your executive assistant finds fulfillment in their career, it will often lead to longer employee retention. That means you won’t have to search for and train a new assistant regularly. Sounds fantastic, right? Well, sometimes, finding fulfillment isn’t as hard as you think. For example, your assistant may be feeling isolated or like they aren’t a member of the team because they are often closer to you than anyone else. The solution could be as simple as having your assistant manage and plan employee birthdays to create that team connection. When you ask your assistant this question, you find out what they feel is missing in their career and what they aspire to do. Don’t take this question lightly; work with your assistant to start incorporating these tasks or ideas so that they find fulfillment in their career.
What are your future goals? Is there something this role can provide to help you achieve them?
Why: The odds are that your executive assistant has goals that reach beyond their current role. Maybe they aspire to move up in your company, or maybe they love being an assistant so much they want to stay, but they would like to take on new responsibilities. You won’t ever know what your assistant has planned unless you ask. This question may not be featured regularly in your one-on-ones, but it definitely should be asked annually.
If you owned the company, what is one thing you would do differently?
Why: You don’t have to hire another business to monitor and point out some of the problems in your company. In fact, you already have a person on your team that often hears about the flaws your team wishes would get fixed. That person is your executive assistant. When you ask your assistant and other team members this question, you have the opportunity to see your business from a different perspective. Once these problem areas get mended, your whole team will thrive.
We know that asking for feedback can be stressful, but if you’re a leader that really wants their business to thrive, it starts internally. So, have your executive assistant schedule a question and answer meeting at least bi-annually so that you can both grow.