For Personal Assistant top skills – Outlook was the number one on my list. Developing all the PA top skills was my focus to growing my profile, but Outlook was clearly the lead.
If you are a new Administrative Assistant, or if you worked yourself up to a Senior Admin, I have to tell you – you cannot ‘top off’ any skill set. I say this because regardless how good you get, technology changes, and our roles require we technically know our way around Outlook more than our bosses!
Which brings me to Outlook, or the calendaring sytem. I could give you a full training session on Outlook alone (note to self: will definitely work that into this website!)
These are the skills that we must know in our sleep. They are also the skills that we move through so quickly, that we make mistakes. So beware, and keep on top of your game.
As a PA or EPA, Outlook or the calendar system you use will always stay open on your desktop. You probably don’t even bother to check your own calendar because it’s your boss’ schedule you care about the most. It simply cannot be wrong.
When Outlook 2010 came out, I gotta admit, it took me a couple of weeks to get my navigation down. There were so many more ‘VIEW’ options and icons I didn’t use before that I had to start from a pretty bare view and then added them back in slowly.
The biggest glitch that got me in trouble was actually having my boss’ calendar on my phone. When a meeting request would come in, I would hit ‘ACCEPT’ but for some reason it wouldn’t show up on the calendar when I logged in at my desktop at work. Of course I learned the hard way when someone called me and asked me why he wasn’t in the meeting and to my spinning stomach, my phone version had the correct info but I wasn’t seeing it on my monitor.
Every person has their preferences. Obviously you will get to know your boss well and will know the do’s and don’ts in managing their calendar. Some of these may not apply to your situation, but with the many people I have supported,
The most important things I learned about managing the calendar:
- Do not schedule back to back meetings all day or majority of the day. I don’t know anyone who likes this. You have to give your boss enough time to prepare for the next one.
- Is there a meeting offsite? Remember to block out TRAVEL time (to and from).
- Block Desk time. if you have an executive who gets invited to a lot of meetings, block desk time after every 2 hours of meetings. They need time to work and make calls.
- BLOCK Time. This can be seen as desk time as well. I supported an executive who was okay with one meeting on a Friday morning and then requested the rest of the day blocked. It was by far his sacred time and I certainly honored it.
- Check all the meetings your boss owns. If you initiated the meeting request, he is the owner. Make sure you have the agenda ready and any materials printed or sent out to the attendees prior to the meeting. That is just a preference thing.
- Know who isn’t coming and why. If there are attendees required to attend and they are unable to come, move the meeting before the boss asks, “Who is coming to this meeting?”
There are a lot of things about managing the calendar that don’t have to do with the tool itself. I think those are the skills that really make you a rock star or someone who is just a scheduler.
I know how fast these schedules change. When you know it’s a busy day, week, or month, always be a step ahead.
If you are lucky enough to get a 1:1 with your boss, review the calendar together. Discuss each meeting, the purpose, who owns what, the status, and any materials needed. I always looked a month ahead and made sure everything was up to date.
Call to confirm meetings.
Make sure you have all standing meetings and that they are accurate.
Don’t forget about including conference call information, updating location changes, and any other information provided in the body of the meeting invite.
Stay tuned. More Outlook and calendar skill development information will be shared soon!
- Outlook 2010: Top 5 New Features | Blog (rackspace.com)
- How to Create Calendar Files (.ics) that can be Shared/Emailed/Downloaded? (parasdoshi.com)