When executives and their administrative professionals form a tight partnership, magic can happen at work.

It’s not just about managing schedules and arranging travel - it’s about forming a strategic relationship where the executive and AP are in it together and striving for success. APs are in the perfect position to step to this level because they already operate in the executive sphere.

Some of the best executive-AP partnerships have found a rhythm that helps them to work together successfully. The AP is “in the head” of the executive, and the executive trusts the AP to understand their needs. Partnerships such as these make for a much more efficient, effective working environment.

Most people want to be able to reach this level of trust with their AP, but how do you get there? Here’s what we’ve learned about forming a great partnership with your AP:

Communication is the foundation

The most successful executive and administrative professional partnerships have made communication an art form. They value quality communication and prioritize figuring out a system that works for them.

These partnerships cultivate a high level of rapport so that the executive and the AP are comfortable with one another. They reach a point where the AP instinctively knows what the executive is likely to say about any given issue.

Most great partnerships reach a level of excellence through a commitment to strong communication. Prioritize this when you first get a new AP.

Learn to let go

It’s often difficult for executives to feel they can let go of things that they’ve been used to doing themselves. You might be tempted to micromanage tasks or to hang on to more than is necessary. The best thing you can do is let it go!

Administrative professionals really shine when they’re allowed to do the job you’re paying them for. They’re there to take some of that control over tasks from you so that you’re free for other important things.

You should also note that APs come into the role expecting to take responsibility. Talented APs don’t tend to tolerate being micromanaged very well because it holds them back from hitting their stride in the role and reaching their potential.

On the flipside, holding onto tasks or trying to micromanage holds the executive back too. If you’re not willing to hand over some control, then you’re acting as your own assistant and not making the most of delegation.

Find someone who complements you

When we talk to executives about their hiring needs for an AP, most will discuss the work habits and personality of the AP. They’re looking for someone who closely matches their own style in order to ensure they understand one another.

This is a good thing to have when you want to collaborate well, but also consider the skills they bring to the table. It’s ideal if you can find an AP with skills that complement your own, including any qualities that you may lack.

For example, a request we’ve heard is: “my written communication often seems to come off as blunt, even when that is not my intention. I need an AP who is able to add a diplomatic touch to any written communication and ensure that my message is clear, and reflects my intentions.”

A strong partnership often involves backing each other where one may have stronger skills than the other. It helps to create a well-rounded approach to any situation.

Be open to feedback

Some of the best APs are adept at challenging the thinking of the executives they serve and pushing them to do better. This happens when the executive is open to feedback and when they’ve created an environment of open communication. Building trust is a key ingredient for an environment where feedback is willingly given and received.

The opposite happens where an executive is known to be gruff or difficult to approach. APs or other team members may be unwilling to share ideas or feedback because they’re worried about the response they’ll get. This limits their ability to build a good partnership.

Being open to feedback means that you’re in the loop early. This also helps you to take a more proactive approach and get ahead of anything that may come up.

Invite your AP to your inner circle

Administrative professionals want you to be successful and want to play a role in your success. Keeping them on the periphery with tasks that have little context or meaning won’t help - they need to be in your inner circle to really understand you and your needs.

What does that mean? You could say the AP is working with you rather than simply for you. They attend meetings, sit in on calls and are generally involved in your work life. They become very invested in seeing you achieve your goals because they’re part of what you’re doing every day.

APs that have this level of involvement are better able to get “in the head” of their executive so that they can act as a gatekeeper or give answers on behalf of the executive. Having context helps tremendously with developing an intuitive sense of what you would say or do in any situation.

Be clear about goals and priorities

The strongest partnerships tend to display synergy with one another. Part of that is clearly communicating what your goals and priorities are so that the AP can help to ensure that your schedule is guided toward those goals.

To give an example, APs take over your scheduling and calendar tasks, so play an important role in how your days are made up. With definitive knowledge of what your priorities are, they’re able to make good decisions about which meetings you should be scheduled for and which should be delegated to others. They can also help by structuring your day to best suit your needs.

Your AP also acts as a gatekeeper, helping to protect your time so that your focus can be on your priorities. They need a clear understanding of what those are so that they know when you should be brought into a conversation, or when they should give a response on your behalf.

When an AP has worked with the same executive for a while, you often see them in a position where they handle a lot of conversations on behalf of the executive. They know exactly what the executive would answer because they understand them and their priorities so well.

Final thoughts

Having a tight, strategic partnership with your administrative professional should always be the goal. It takes work but pays off when you have someone you trust to represent your best interests.

The strongest partnerships lean heavily on effective communication, trust, and learning to let go. They clearly articulate priorities and goals and find a synergy in working together toward them.

Would you like to find an AP who you can form a partnership with? Worxbee scours the country for the best in the business. Our APs are capable, competent individuals who would love to find someone to partner with. Talk to us today about how we can help.