At the Office Dynamics International team, we have been privileged to witness the benefit of collaborating with administrative peers since our first conference in 1993 when Joan Burge brought together 16 different executive assistants from 6 different companies so they could learn from each other.
We created this guide so you can continue those efforts throughout the year and manage your own meetings with other administrative professionals outside of The Annual Conference for Administrative Excellence. In every office environment, collaboration between administrative professionals is crucial. So, here’s your game plan so you can manage these meetings with confidence and enhance collaboration with your peers.
Generate Meeting Topics
When planning a meeting for administrative assistants and professionals, start by generating relevant and engaging topics. There are a few sources to consider in order to give you a good starting point:
- Agenda Items: Solicit items from other administrative professionals, allowing for a shared agenda that addresses everyone’s concerns. You can do this about a week to several days before the meeting in an email, allowing everyone to send in their own ideas. Look for trends and identify the ideas that are repeated in the emails back. If you see something that stands out, right that down as a meeting topic as well.
- Discussing Urgent Issues: Meetings should focus on timely subjects that require immediate attention. Mainly, you will want to pay attention to themes that have been recently discussed in the company. Pay extra attention to pain points that have been commonly discussed by hire management, the executive team, and the wider team. As strategic business partners, you will want to fulfill your role and think of ways you can alleviate these pain points.
- Generating Relevant Topics: A quick Google search will allow you to discover industry trends and relevant topics to address in your meeting. You can also subscribe to relevant newsletters from industry leaders to stay in the loop on current news and strategies. Further, joining a social media group can allow you to stay in the know on the latest insights. Bring this info together into concise points that you can share at your meeting.
Keep The Meeting Organized
Organizing a meeting goes beyond setting a date and sending out invites. An organized meeting sets the stage for productivity. Prepare ahead and keep the following in mind:
- Time Management: Be strict with the schedule but allow for discussion to flow. If the meeting is dragged on, people will lose interest. Set time limits and politely guide the conversation if it goes too far of topic, being open to different perspectives. Send out an agenda beforehand and designate time slots for each topic.
- Clear Objectives: Define what you want to achieve from the meeting and share this with the attendees. These topics can be added to the agenda above with their allotted time slots, once you’ve gathered that info. Having a clear goal can guide the discussion and keep everyone focused while also spurring creativity.
- Tools and Resources: Whether it’s a shared document for collaborative note-taking or utilizing project management software like Asana or Monday to track action items, having the right tools can streamline the process and make follow-up easier.
Encouraging collaboration ensures everyone feels part of the team. This is crucial to creating a meeting that emphasizes team building and will generate richer, well-thought-out solutions when guided carefully. Keep these points in mind:
- Welcoming Input: Create an environment where all opinions are valued. Regularly ask for feedback and genuinely consider suggestions. Consider utilizing collaboration tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to facilitate ongoing dialogue if needed.
- Team Building Activities: Organize regular team-building exercises or workshops within your meeting. Whether it’s a problem-solving activity or simply a fun outing, these sessions can strengthen bonds and enhance collaboration.
- Breakout Into Smaller Groups: One thing to consider, especially if there is a good amount of people in your meeting, is to break out into smaller groups. This could start with a team-building activity and then merge into addressing some solutions for your main topics. At the end, one member of the group can share their ideas with the rest of the attendees. This allows for more ideas from each individual to be shared in a shorter amount of time.
Create an Action Plan
The best meeting in the world means little if none of the items discussed are carried out. A clear action plan ensures the meeting’s success translates into tangible outcomes. While we’ve mentioned a few ways to carry on efforts outside of the meeting, consider the following ways to make sure action items are achieved:
- Set Goals: Break down the main objectives into smaller, achievable tasks. Assign responsibilities and set deadlines to ensure everyone knows what’s expected. You can follow up with attendees individually in the coming weeks to make sure items are carried out.
- Implementation: Tracking implementation can be tricky. It’s important to make sure you test the items discussed and see if they yield positive results. To track your efforts, utilize tools like Trello or Asana to track progress. Regular follow-ups with responsible parties ensure accountability and keep the momentum going.
In the fast-paced world of administrative professionals, collaboration, creativity, and constant growth are essential. The strategies outlined in this guide serve as a roadmap to foster a culture of united achievement and relentless innovation. But the journey doesn’t end here. The Annual Conference for Administrative Excellence offers a unique opportunity to extend this spirit of collaboration, learning from the best in the industry and forming lasting connections. Whether you’re an experienced executive assistant or just starting your administrative career, the conference is a beacon for growth, inspiration, and excellence. Join us and continue to shape the future of administrative collaboration, one meeting at a time.