Executive assistant goals are kind of like stars. There are tons of them, too many to count. Some lie so far off you can’t even see them. Some look close enough to reach out and grab. People can look at the same one and see different ideas and possibilities.
Also like stars, executive assistant goals can be breathtaking — or in some cases overwhelming — to behold.
“Goal setting is particularly hard for executive assistants because so much of the job is reactive,” says former executive assistant (EA) Liza Goldberg.
“It’s hard to plan when you don’t know exactly what you’ll be working on. The other tough part is coming up with new goals. We use this visual tool to see all the moving pieces at once. While the job is dynamic, sometimes it also feels like you’re doing the same things every day – scheduling, event planning, organizing, etc.”
True, EA goals and objectives may be hard to set and achieve, but that’s the good thing: if something is hard, that means it’s not impossible. The most empowering approach to EA goals, and many other challenges in life for that matter, is calm, strategic, and systematic planning.
That’s why for EAs, setting everything from their own goals to career goals, should be a thing, something they work on constantly, revisit frequently, and take delightfully seriously.
Pro-tip: Check out the #1 favorited productivity tool made for EAs that makes hitting goals easier by automating to-do list items and measuring your effectiveness so you don’t have to.
The Importance of Goal Setting For Executive Assistants
Goal setting for executive assistants is important because…
- It turns doing a performance review into a cake walk. Discussing progress toward a clearly outlined set of goals will fill discussion time, demonstrate leadership, and lead to career growth by proving an ability to follow through on objectives. Try setting your quarterly objectives in a visual template like this one.
- It leads to greater visibility and alignment. Too often, colleagues or managers will ask EAs: “Where are you spending your time?” That’s because great EAs make their jobs look easy, often limiting recognition. To create visibility into how you are tracking on your goals, consider looking into a software for EAs like this free template from monday.com that will track your time spent towards achieving goals. That way you can regularly update your team on what you’re working on and how those activities impact the business.
- It helps EAs take deliberate action to stay on top of everything, namely the constantly growing list of EA skills and competencies they need to possess and perfect to meet and exceed expectations of competitive executive assistant positions.
- It cultivates focus, considered by many to be a core competitive advantage in today’s workforce.
- It empowers people to take command of their own career destinies. EAs can and must do a little bit of everything. By setting goals, EAs can choose which things they want to develop the most and guide the course of their careers.
- It creates a master compass that helps EAs separate their true priorities from every other EA responsibility or administrative task that comes their way. After all, even the most noble goals for administrative professionals won’t keep people motivated if their work-life balance or personal life suffers as a result of “trying to do everything” syndrome.
- Find a mentor or join a community where you can crowdsource ideas, seek advice for tough situations, or just find support and encouragement when you need it. Guess what? You don’t even have to look very long because we have two places where you can find and connect to your new EA family today:
- The Assist – consider this free weekly newsletter your shortcut to success where you can learn about all the best-kept secrets, most helpful technology tools, and field-tested tips from other razor-sharp EAs. You might even feel like you have a superpower as you get new secrets delivered to you on a silver platter (a.k.a. beautifully formatted email) each week.
- State of the Executive Assistant – our thriving Facebook community, is an EA’s dream hub for sourcing advice, participating in lively discussions, and chatting with other motivated EAs.
Seize control of your goals with effectiveness, confidence, and strategic flare by following the tips below.
Align With Your Company’s Overall Goals For The Year
Naturally, your professional goals are your own and should certainly include things you feel passionate about. However, aligning at least some of your goals with those of your company demonstrates the kind of commitment and loyalty valued in top leaders regardless of industry. When EAs pursue company-aligned goals, pretty much everyone wins.
What it is:
The deliberate structuring of individual goals to fit neatly within the broader company framework.
How to implement:
Many people achieve alignment by looking at OKRs or KPIs.
Alignment based on objectives and key results (OKRs)
Remember! When you use OKRs, you can determine the result and also the approach.
OKRs empower you to set a key result and your approach to achieving it. OKRs measure one goal against one metric. They provide a clean, one-to-one method of discussing your success. (EA OKRs and goal setting strategies are practically synonymous.)
Simply think of setting OKRs as outlining something you want to do plus a measurable way to prove it’s done. Imagine you have to tell the most skeptical person in the world that you did a thing. Just saying you did it won’t satisfy them. They want hard evidence. Instead of telling them you worked tirelessly to make company meetings more productive, show them survey results that indicate how many people find company meetings productive.
Alignment based on key performance indicators (KPIs)
Remember! When you use KPIs, you usually determine only the approach.
KPIs allow you to determine an approach to an existing key result. They measure incremental progress toward a larger overarching goal. Meeting a KPI represents a contribution toward something bigger, specifically your company’s performance over time.
When you align your goals based on pre-set company KPIs, you’re essentially choosing to take on individual slices of larger “goal pies.” The KPI gives you the key result. You have to determine which actions will achieve that result and also how to measure your actions’ contributions to that key result. You’ll likely choose a KPI that has already been set, so you’ll need to back your measurement methodology into an existing framework, namely your company’s larger KPIs or overarching goals.
Setting EA goals for performance reviews presents the perfect real-world example of the advantages of goal alignment.
One time-tested way to be successful in your endeavors is learning how other people achieved what you’re trying to do. The Assist can help with that. Here is what one EA subscriber wrote to The Assist after joining the newsletter:
“You guys are doing an amazing job! Keep up the awesome work. The content you have provided has helped me in every issue so far. The info has been valuable, so I want to share, but at the same time, I want to keep all of the glory for myself because these ideas are so good. Thank you for creating this for EAs, I never could have imagined something like this especially curated just for EAs and also the awesome community you guys have created. I truly appreciate it.” – Keyanna
Aligned EA goals for performance review examples include:
- Enhancing company culture during remote work shifts
- Developing strategies to keep remote workers engaged
- Helping executives make better, more strategic decisions
Pro-Tip: Using an efficiency software like monday.com will help you manage and crush your goals in a visually please way! Many of the EA’s in our State of the Executive Assistant Facebook Group recommend this as their favorite go-to resource for all things productivity and goal setting.
Make Your Goals SMART
SMART goals are precise goals, clear goals, goals that leave no aspect of what you need to do up to interpretation, second guessing, or overthinking. When you set goals using the SMART framework, you avoid that awkward “morning after a goal-setting” feeling where you realize you have tons of lofty goals but absolutely no clue how to start achieving them.
Imagine someone asked you to make a sandwich. The difference between SMART goals and not-so-SMART goals can be characterized as follows:
“I would really love a sandwich.” VS “I would like a turkey and swiss sandwich on whole-wheat bread for an early lunch tomorrow at 11:15 AM.”
Which one gives you the specificity you need to start right away?
What it is:
SMART goals are specific (S), measurable (M), achievable (A), relevant (R), and time-bound (T). They bring guiding purpose to your work, help you prioritize, enable you to flag progress, reinforce your requests for raises, and so much more.
We’ll go into each SMART concept in detail in the context of this goal: You want to improve your calendar management processes.
Now let’s turn this vague goal into a SMART goal.
Pro-Tip: Looking for a tool to help you write your SMART goals?
Our friends at ASAP have a great download to help you establish your specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals.
They have guided questions and a fill-in format to help you plan how to achieve your career aspirations. Check it out here!
- Your goal is specific when it covers what, how, and why with as little ambiguity as possible. You could give a stranger this goal and they would immediately know what to do. Consider recipes. There’s a reason they are so painfully specific.
- Specific example: Evaluate, select, and adopt calendar management tools with potential to streamline processes.
- Your goal is measurable when it can be quantified in universal and perfectly objective terms as opposed to your opinion or instincts. Think about any aspect of your goal that can be measured using a standard system, such as time and money. In our example, we’ve decided to gauge our “improvement of calendar management” in terms of time, measurable by a standard system of well-defined units.
- Measurable example: Reduce weekly hours spent on calendar management from 20 to 10.
- Pro-tip: Check out Office Otter — a powerful to-do list that automatically provides you reporting on your effectiveness and efficiency based on your tasks completed. It takes the guesswork out of the “measurable” piece of SMART goals.
- Your goal is achievable when it doesn’t fall beyond the scope of your time, skills, knowledge, or experience.
- Achievable example: Improving calendar management is a manageable goal for EAs and admins already spending time on it. They know how to do it, they have time dedicated toward it, and they have some expertise in it.
- Your goal is relevant when it directly or indirectly contributes to multiple personal or work goals.
- Relevant example: Calendar management is relevant because it is a must-do task. It’s critical to your executive’s success, and it contributes to your other overarching goal areas of improving your executive service.
- Your goal is time bound when it has a deadline or an event or benchmark you can use as a de-facto deadline that drives completion in a timely manner and specified time frame.
- Time bound example: Summer is always a hectic time for calendar management, so you set an April 15th deadline for completing your calendar management initiative.
Pro-Tip from The Assist: Start keeping a diary of actions, goals and accomplishments (this will feel like a gold mine when it’s time to complete your performance review or ask for a raise). Emphasize actions in your control instead of results outside your direct control. A good example: “I saved the company $20K this quarter because I negotiated with our vendors to cut costs.”
Set Goals With Your Executive
While many EA/executive relationships may appear at first to be those where the EA serves the executive, the most fruitful examples of the boss-and-assistant relationship are those of true mutualism, a symbiotic relationship benefiting both actors involved. Setting goals with your executive provides ample opportunity for that mutualism to develop and thrive.
What it is:
You sit down with your boss to pinpoint the most valuable goals related to your overall career development plans and trajectory and also related to their goals and your role in supporting them. You commit to the goals by tracking them and systematically pursuing them. Talking about your progress toward them becomes part of your regular check-ins.
How to implement:
Step 1: Schedule a dedicated meeting with your executive. Don’t try to tack this important conversation onto a standing meeting. Give this topic the precious time and focus it deserves.
Step 2: Include the following talking points in your agenda:
- Alignment on big goals
- Completed when … you both have a matching list of priorities.
- Ask her to share her goals and also the goals she envisions for the team or the company. Come prepared with a few overarching goal ideas of your own. You may not adopt them, but discussing them is in itself a fruitful and enlightening exercise.
- Go through your current job description to pinpoint the most important executive assistant objectives listed.
- Approaching these goals
- Completed when … you each have a strong sense of where you need to go from here.
- Discuss or whiteboard each goal until it meets all the SMART goal setting criteria outlined above.
- Talk about why these goals are important.
- Challenges related to these goals
- Completed when … you each have a strong sense of where you need to go from here.
- Discuss possible risks, barriers, threats, and challenges associated with your pursuit of these goals.
- Estimate the chances of confronting this blocker.
- Does thinking about these possibilities give you an idea for reinforcing your approach?
Step 4: Call attention to your successes. When you’ve achieved a goal or benchmark outlined on your board, call it out. Create a dashboard, label it carefully, and save it for your next performance review.
Step 5: Strive to constantly improve your approach through continued learning and professional development, including:
- Reading newsletters like The Assist
- Attending industry conferences
- Browsing EA blogs
- Growing your skillset with training
Pro-Tip: Do you have an objective of becoming an executive assistant and a key result of signing your first EA job offer letter? Here’s some vital intel to help you along your journey:
Real EA Goals and Templates/Worksheets for Setting Them
Need some inspiration for your own professional goals? Here’s what some real-world EA goals for 2022:
- Helping my executive with time management
- Developing my capacity to delegate
- Being more proactive in the face of changing priorities
- Becoming chief of staff
- Perfecting the art of saying “no”
Pro-Tip: Stay in the know about all the latest goals other EAs and administrative assistants are pondering by receiving weekly issues of The Assist.
|Helpful Goal-Setting Ideas Templates and Worksheets|
Start a “work diary” where you track ideas and accomplishments. Look for patterns in your entries to come up with personal goals and performance goals that are achievable and also important to you.
People Also Ask These Questions About Executive Assistant Goals
Q: What are professional and self-development goals for an executive assistant?
- A: Professional and self-development goals for an executive assistant are the future accomplishments and desires that guide the creation, structuring, and prioritization of tasks.
Q: How do I set goals with my executive?
- A: To effectively set goals with your executive, schedule a structured planning session. This post tells you exactly what to talk about during this session.
Q: How do I set goals that are attainable as an executive assistant?
- A: EAs can set attainable goals by making sure potential goals lie within the scope of their time, skills, knowledge, and experience.
Q: How do you write a SMART goal for an executive assistant?
- A: Write a SMART goal for an EA by tweaking a general goal to make it specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This post will walk you through the ins and outs of meeting each SMART criteria.
Q: How do you write clear and measurable learning objectives?
- A: Write clear and measurable learning objectives by framing them as OKRs (objectives and key results). Set learning competency as your objective and make it measurable against a new task you’ll be able to take on when the learning is complete. Find more tips for setting measurable goals and objectives.