The Revolutionary Assistant celebrates its fifth anniversary this month, and I looked around to find that I’m still championing the manager/assistant business partnership, and still asking that question: Are you Alfred, or are you Robin? The reason why I continue to ask it is because the Alfred assistant is becoming obsolete.
Allow me to explain. I use DC Comic superhero Batman and his support system – butler Alfred and sidekick Robin – to explain the difference between someone who assists and someone who partners with their manager. To recap our very first post, Alfred assists Batman by polishing the Batmobile and getting the Batsuit dry cleaned. Robin partners with Batman by standing at his side, fighting the bad guys and providing solutions to the problems they encounter. The assistant who’s more like Robin increases her manager’s reach. The assistant who’s like Alfred…well, she’s eventually victim of a reduction in force.
A 2013 Oxford University study examined just how susceptible today’s jobs are to computerization, and they discovered that an astounding 47% of them are vulnerable. So it stands to reason that assistants who concentrate only on getting the coffee and keeping the calendar up to date are in danger of being replaced by technology.
How do you take steps to ensure you don’t become obsolete? Here are some hints!
Read this blog – We’ve spent the last five years talking about how to be a better partner to your manager. Check out our videos and our reference section to answer specific questions…and have a good laugh!
Take the scary step – If you’re going to work every day and you’re not just a little bit scared, you’re not doing it right. Learn something new, take on a new responsibility even if you have no idea how you’re going to do it. Being a little scared is a good thing. You’ll figure it out, you’ll learn, and you’ll become a more important cog in the organizational machinery.
Make your work important to others – If you’re not working for someone’s benefit (like your manager’s), then you might as well not be doing anything at all. If your manager doesn’t find your work important, and his direct reports don’t either…reassess your situation and make a career move. They should feel like you’re making them bigger and better than they are alone. You should feel fulfilled in making their lives better. If those aspects of your service are not connecting, you either need to fix it or move on.
Find someone to challenge you – You know those people in the office, the ones who make your stretch your thinking to new levels. Spend time with them, and force yourself to make new connections and be more accepting of new ideas.
Update your technology skills – I’m not talking about Microsoft Outlook here! Don’t be the person that always has to ask for help plugging in the projector or getting the new software to work. Be the person that gets asked. Read up on available technology in computer periodicals and hang out with the young folks to see how they’re using their phone apps.
Get some business knowledge – I read the Harvard Business Review every month, because it helps me understand the challenges that my manager and my company face. Social marketing and big data are not a part of my day-to-day work, but understanding trends helps me keep up with the conversation and offer viable solutions to problems we’re facing. If you’re not into the Harvard Business Review, get a subscription to Fast Company, Inc., or Entrepreneur. Or follow them on Twitter, and you’ll be able to read a lot of their articles for free.
It’s time for assistants to step up their game and go from ordinary to revolutionary, and from Alfred to Robin! Don’t run the risk of technology taking over your job…use these steps to stay relevant (and employed!)
Next Post: Wednesday, April 27