Quiet Quitting: Separating the Symptom from the Cause

By | Hiring Strategies

Quiet Quitting: Separating the Symptom from the Cause

Quiet quitting. What began as a viral video has become one of the most talked about (and written about) topics this year. Is it a valid phenomenon, or is it nothing more than catchy clickbait? To a certain degree, the answer to that question does not matter. Rather than debating the significance of the symptoms, this is an opportunity for leaders to proactively address the more important matter: the cause. While many organizations excel in the areas of employee engagement and retention, the tenor in the marketplace (and perhaps why the original video gained so much traction) is that this is the exception – not the rule. The symptoms indicate that something has shifted; the cause of that shift deserves a discussion.

What’s New?

In the video – which has over 3.5 million views – 24-year-old TikToker Zaid Khan (@zaidlepplin) states that “work is not your life.” This is not a new concept. But assuming that work is a requisite part of life, to view the act of employment simply as a means to an end overlooks the opportunity that purposeful, gratifying, challenging work can provide. When given a choice to do the bare minimum necessary to stay employed, or proactively constructing a professional environment that provides meaning, which would most choose? The latter is the obvious choice, but is easier said than done. And although the need for professional fulfillment is nothing new, the external factors have changed:

  • The pandemic shifted people’s attitudes toward work, creating a time of reflection during which some reassessed the importance of things in their lives beyond work.
  • Remote and hybrid work environments have created employees who feel disconnected from their work, workplace, and coworkers.
  • Lack of boundaries between work and personal life have created, for some, an “always working” dynamic that leads to burnout.
  • New career and early career employees have never “gone to work” and thus have no personal investment or commitment to an organization, its people, or its mission.
  • Lack of organizational focus/attention necessary to keep employees aligned, motivated and moving forward in their organizations and in their careers. “Out of sight, out of mind” is not an effective formula for employee engagement and retention.

Uncovering the Cause

“What is your why?” It sounds like an esoteric question, but why is it that you choose to go to work each day? Why do you choose this profession, instead of something else? Why do you choose the role you are in, as opposed to others?

Encourage yourself and others to press beyond the obvious answer of “I need to make money.”  There are countless ways to earn a living; why have you chosen this one?

Incorporate The Five Whys, which originated within the Toyota Production System and are an integral part of Lean Manufacturing, Kaizen, and Six Sigma. Taiichi Ohno saw the Five Whys as an especially important part of Toyota’s overall philosophy. The process is simple: Just ask why five times in succession to get to the true root cause of the problem. This is a remarkably simple process, but more often than not, we stop at the very first “why” and try to do something about the symptoms rather than getting to the true root causes.

Once you begin to list all of your whys, you will notice they fall in two categories. The first category is similar to Maslow’s lowest hierarchy of needs – food, water, shelter. “I’d like to be able to pay my mortgage.” “I want to send my children to college.” “My elderly parents will rely on me to provide for them.” “I have always dreamed of buying a vacation home.”

The second category recognizes that there is a bigger purpose, a desire to make a difference, and a need to higher meaning behind the choices we make. Both categories are important and not mutually exclusive. An individual who only cares about money will likely live with a void in their life, while an individual who is all about the big picture has their head in the clouds but lacks feet on the ground.

Treatment Options

  1. Acknowledge this is a leadership issue. In his book Extreme Ownership, former Navy Seal Jocko Willink writes: “On any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader is truly and ultimately responsible for everything.” Leadership must address manager engagement first, then re-skill them to be successful in a hybrid/remote working world.
  1. Rebuild the psychological contract with employees. The 20th Century psychological contract was transactional: Employees showed up every day from 9-5, and in return were rewarded with a paycheck and a pension. The 21st Century contract is relational. Employees want a paycheck, but they want challenge, career growth, support, and meaningful relationships. More than ever, leaders must build (rebuild) trusting relationships with their employees. When people feel valued, they are more likely to naturally engage or reengage in their work.
  1. Commit to Offer High-Quality Work. High-quality work means having varied and meaningful tasks, clear goals, and a positive team climate. Particularly relevant today, high-quality work also means having reasonable demands and expectations of workers. Leaders need to be especially careful about not overwhelming people with excessive demands, long work hours, or unreasonable pressures.
  1. Acknowledge and Respect that Employees Have Changed. Quiet quitting is an identity shift. See employees as they are now vs. who they were pre-pandemic. Employees want autonomy over their work, not just in how they carry out their tasks, but also — as much as possible — influence over where and when they work.
  1. Work to Reconnect Employees/Teammates. Employee engagement relies on feeling connected to one another individually and connected as at team to a bigger purpose. Leaders must be intentional in creating interaction and cohesion.

Quiet quitting isn’t new. It’s a new twist on an old problem. But, it has captured people’s attention. As leaders, it’s on us to address it.

Executive Assistant

Networking Tips for Executive Assistants and Administrative Professionals

By | Executive Assistant | No Comments

Networking is a great way to meet professionals from different fields and areas of expertise. According to LinkedIn, 70 percent of people are hired through a connection. Almost 80 percent of professionals consider networking an essential factor in their career success.

As an existing or aspiring executive professional, networking can help you expand your circle and expose you to opportunities that can further your career.

Where Can You Find Networking Groups/Events?

The traditional form of networking involves attending a conference or a business event. However, today the concept of networking has expanded to other mediums. Most social media sites (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram) promote online events and webinars that offer opportunities for people to network and expand their circle.

While it can be hard to mingle with a group of strangers, you can reap many benefits once you overcome that initial hesitation. Here are some tips you can use at the next networking event.

Be Yourself

People can see when you are being forceful or trying to be someone you are not. Be your authentic, confident self!

Prepare an Elevator Pitch

The elevator pitch is like a mini overview of your professional accomplishments. It is typically a 30-second pitch that you deliver when meeting new people. The idea of an elevator pitch is to quickly tell someone about yourself and make a good first impression. It is also a great icebreaker as it can give people a topic to talk about. Someone you meet at a networking event may be a C-suite level executive looking to hire an executive assistant. Your pitch can be your first selling point.

Go With a Give-and-Take Mentality

Networking isn’t about finding people who can place you at their companies. Instead, it is about building mutual connections. Share your background, interests, and career aspirations with people and show interest in their careers. Offer help if they need it.

Share Contact Details

If you have met someone who can help you in your career or know someone who can help you, make sure you exchange their contact information. Typically, people exchange their business cards, but you can also add them on LinkedIn.

Follow-Up

After the event, send an email or a LinkedIn message thanking them for their acquaintance. Let them know that you are looking forward to establishing a professional relationship with them.

Suppose you are interested in an administrative or executive assistant career. In that case, executive search companies can help you prepare for interviews and help you get hired successfully at some of the best companies.

Read More

Executive Assistant

How to Effectively Onboard Your New Executive Assistant

By | Executive Assistant | No Comments

Whether you have just found your executive assistant (EA) or are looking for one, onboarding is an essential step in the post-hiring process. Preparation will ensure the process goes smoothly, not just for your EA but also for you.

Being a CEO, your executive assistant will be tasked to take care of all the administrative and executive tasks, such as scheduling calendar meetings, responding to emails, collaborating with different teams, booking flights, and more. Before onboarding, it is vital to equip them with all the tools necessary to carry out their job efficiently.

We have created this guide to help you, a CEO or a leader, successfully onboard your executive assistant. Let’s get started!

Prepare the Paperwork

Before the onboarding begins, you want to make sure all relevant paperwork is complete. Make sure HR has all the required forms. Touch base with HR to ensure the employee is ready to be onboarded. Some example documents include:

  • Offer letter
  • Job title and description
  • Hiring forms (e.g. W2, I-9, etc.)
  • Tax form
  • Direct deposit details
  • NDA

Contact the IT department

Get in touch with IT to ensure the employee’s badge is ready and has access to the building and required rooms. Also, check if their email address is set up and have access to all the essential folders/files. IT should also set up their workstation with the necessary equipment.

Executive assistants typically use software and applications like Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, Google Meet, TravelPerk, Slack, Smart Receipts, Asana, SnagIt, and more. IT should provide them access to the tools and resources needed to get the job done efficiently.

Prepare the Workstation (If on-site)

If your executive assistant is hired for an on-site role, their workstation should include everything they will need to operate. Some of the essentials include:

  • A desk, chair, lamp
  • Monitor, keyboard, mouse
  • Printer
  • Keys
  • Stationery items (sticky notes, notepad, stapler, pins)
  • Company merchandise (e.g. mug, glass, T-shirt)

Provide Access to Required Files and Folders

As the CEO or the leader, there are files and folders that only you have access to now. However, your executive assistant will need to use some of these files for their day-to-day tasks. When providing them access, remember to discuss confidentiality.

Are you thinking of hiring an executive assistant for yourself? Executive search firms can help you find dynamic and forward-thinking executive assistants who can effectively assist a team of leaders and CEOs in any domain or industry.

Read More

Executive Assistant

Executive Assistant Interview Questions That Provide Real Insight

By | Corporate Culture, Executive Assistant | No Comments

Interviewing a candidate for a job is one of the most crucial steps in finding the right fit for your team or company. While you can’t find out everything about a candidate in an hour interview, there are certain questions that can give you a better insight into what the candidate is all about.

If you are a high-level official (C-suite) looking for an executive assistant to join your team, you know how important it is for the candidate to be the right fit.

We have compiled some interview questions that can help you better assess and filter your candidate so you can make an informed decision.

Technical Questions

Describe your computer skills. What software do you use to organize your tasks and improve productivity?

Skilled executive assistants can organize data in spreadsheets, schedule calendar meetings, and create well-written emails. Apart from Microsoft Office and Google WorkSpace, executive assistants are well-versed in many other softwares.

What process do you follow to book domestic and international travel?

As a CEO or a leader, traveling is an essential part of your business. The executive assistant you hire must be familiar with everything that travel entails, including keeping note of delays, cancellations, layovers, car booking, and more.

Describe a great executive assistant in 3 words.

Summarizing a whole role in 3 words can be tricky but the words they will choose can give you an insight into what they perceive the role to be.

Behavioral Questions

Tell me about a time you worked on projects with similar deadlines. How did you handle it?

This question is a good judge of how your candidate prioritizes tasks and handles pressure. As a CEO, schedules change pretty quickly and your ideal candidate is someone who can refocus and readjust according to the changing needs.

Give me an example of a time you had to solve a complex issue for an executive. Did you get any help?

While executive assistants are great at handling tasks on their own, they also need to collaborate with people on other teams to complete tasks. Therefore, people’s skills and team-building skills are also crucial to this role.

How do you handle conflict?

No workplace is free of problems. When dealing with different people in different departments, your executive assistant can come across difficult people or scenarios. A cool, calm, and, collected person knows how to handle conflict and avoid drama in the workspace.

Are you looking for a top executive assistant to manage your day-to-day tasks efficiently? We can help you find dynamic and well-rounded individuals for your team.

Read More

Executive Assistant

How to Make Travel Plans for Your Boss

By | Corporate Culture, Executive Assistant | No Comments

Business travel is crucial to a business’s long-term success. Business travel brings in clients, opportunities, and helps a company expand its foothold. As an executive assistant, when your boss is traveling, the responsibility of taking care of all the travel-related logistics falls on your shoulders. From booking flights to reserving hotels— there are a lot of things that go into planning a streamlined travel itinerary for your boss.

In this article, we will cover some useful insight on how to effectively make travel plans for your boss.

Find out the budget

Every company has an allocated travel budget. Make sure you know how much can be spent on the trip. Businesses sometimes have partnerships with companies that offer travel at discounted prices— check if there is a better deal available.

Check travel requirements

Every country has specific requirements for visitors who are traveling for business or pleasure. Depending on which country your boss is traveling to, there may be certain travel requirements that he will have to consider. For example, does your boss need a visa to travel to that specific country? Does he need certain vaccinations? Keep such contingencies in mind and begin planning a few weeks in advance to cater to these requirements. Also, make sure your boss’ passport is on a date and has empty pages in case a visa is required.

Know your boss’ preference

Some bosses are particular about certain aspects of travel. For example, they may prefer an aisle seat over a window or want a digital boarding pass rather than a printed copy. Ask your boss what their preferences are and plan the trip accordingly.

Create an itinerary

Before travel, sit down with your boss and create a travel itinerary for the travel days. What will his schedule look like on day one? Who will he meet and at what time? Details such as getting into the shuttle and getting to the airport, to meeting an executive for lunch—everything should be listed down in the itinerary. This will give your boss a clear idea of what’s next and remove any confusion or miscommunication between you both.

Research the culture

With international travel, you need to keep certain things in mind. Every culture has norms, e.g. way of greeting, eating, or even tipping. Briefly update your boss on these details.

Account for the unexpected

Unexpected changes can happen during travel. Maybe your boss’ flight gets delayed. What should you do in that situation? If it’s an overnight delay, you would have to book a hotel for him. In another situation, their flight may reach earlier than expected, and you now have to coordinate the new time with the pickup service and the hotel staff. Always be prepared for the unexpected!

Working as an executive assistant can be challenging yet rewarding. If you are planning to further your career as an executive assistant, consider working with executive search firms that can place you at some of the top companies.

Read More