Friday, 27 June 2014

Introduction to Project Management for an Executive Assistant or Office Manager

As someone in charge of project management it is of course important that the project is managed as it should be. A good way to make sure that this happens is to make sure you meet the 7S Model (as  seen below) This framework helps with projects of all sizes and calibres and helps to see what you need to be doing to ensure that your project is managed successfully.

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If you are someone that is in charge of project management then it is important that you know how it differs from operational management and the skills you will need to carry this out. Of course the skills you have can be carried through to other management environments but they are also essential for project management. Things you should consider are included in Maylor's 7S:

 - Structure
 - Style
 - Staff
 - Skills
 - Stakeholders
 - Strategy
 - Systems

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Staff and stakeholders

When you look into this, they could seem like generic skills needed for all sorts of management. However it is important to see how they can relate to the management of a project.
So for example when it comes to project management is it essential that you have a project manager in place. This person needs to have a wide range of skills and experience in order to make sure that the whole thing runs as smoothly as possible. You will also need other team members which can be made up of full and part time staff depending on your needs and will skills in different areas.
You will also need to take into consideration the needs and feelings of stakeholders. These are people that are involved in the project and are going to be affected by the outcome.
Stakeholders are people who have an interest in or are affected by the operation of the project or its outcomes. Their attitudes, perceptions and influence will vary and they must all be properly identified and dealt with if the project is to be a success.


The structure of your project is important in many ways.
First of all you will need to look at the lifespan of your project, what is expected and when it should be delivered. You'll also need to look at the structure matrix if any building work needs to take place as part of your finished project. It can be worth looking at more set-out structures such as PRINCE2 and seeing if these are appropriate for your project.

Systems and Strategy

In order to keep things running smoothly try to think of your project as a system that needs its own elements to work. That way you can look at what you need to do to make this work correctly and how everything else relates to this.
Of course within all of this you will need to think about the organisation you are working for/with and what they are going to need from your project too.

You need to take into account the style and culture of your overall project. This means looking at what you need to do now and what might need to be done in the future including the surrounding areas and ensuring that everyone is kept happy and content.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Interview Questions Examples

1. Why would you like this job? 

This is an obvious question but is all too often done badly. In this situation demonstrate some knowledge and research of the company and the job role.

Ideally, you should sell why your skills and experience should fit the role and suggest that you would like to develop your career in the job role.

Using specific details of the job role or company can help to impress the employer and make it clear that you have done some investigation and preparation for the interview.

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2. What are your weaknesses?

Here is an opportunity to show a weakness and what you have done to correct it. Naturally, do not choose something that would be a big issue to you being a good hire. However, demonstrating your willingness to improve yourself is a great way to gain from this question.

3. Give me an example of leadership in a team.

This is a common question and the interviewer is looking for a well explained example from your previous experience. You need to clearly demonstrate leadership of others, potentially coaching others, taking initiative and potentially influencing others.

All of these attributes will vary depending on the company culture and the grade of your job. Leadership of a manager is far more important and they will look at the Leadership style adopted and your ability to manage others. Non-managerial roles will look at the influencing and taking initiative.
Remember to be sure to demonstrate the correct leadership skills, which could entail working with others. Few companies will be keen on autocratic styles in this day and age, so be sure to match your approach to the culture of the industry and company.

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4. Why did you leave your last job?

This is a question that you must prepare in advance. A slow or nervous answer will make the employer concerned that you had an issue at the last job. Also, never talk badly about the previous employer.  

5. Do you have any questions?

This is a common question to end an interview and the interviewer is looking to see interest in the job and that you are thinking seriously about the company.

This is where you ask about career development, work culture and other professional questions. Never ask about holiday, sick pay, tea breaks and anything like this.

Try thinking about questions before the interview, so you are not stuck in the interview and end up asking a silly question. 

To prepare yourself for a career change and get a new job, find out more about training courses at

Monday, 23 June 2014

How do I become a high performing PA?

PAs and Executive PAs can have an excellent career. It has good prospects for pay and the ability to find employment, as vacancies are common. There is also good stability in the industry and job security, relative to many other professions.

Here is a list of some key less tangible skills that help to make a PA highly successful in his or her career. There are many technical skills that are important aswell.

Meeting deadlines
A good PA needs to be able to deal with situations as they arise and often respond quickly to meet a deadline. This means being flexible and dynamic is key and the ability to work to a deadline is important. You also may even need to plan your manager’s work in order to ensure that they meet their deadlines. This makes this skill all the more fundamental to your role.

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Communication skills are key not only do you need good communication skills, but you need a range of communicative skills. You need good written, verbal and non-verbal communication skills. You will need to respond to every situation and use the appropriate mix of communication, which is not an easy skill.

Interpersonal Skills
Building networks, emphasising with people and build relationships is key to a PA role. This is because you act as a point of contact for your boss and even the floor. You will need to recognise when you need to negotiate with others, build working relationship and influence others. This requires advanced interpersonal skills that are often required by management.

Sometimes we will be preparing reports or presentation for our bosses where we do not sit in the best place to input technical information. This is where we need to recognise the need to delegate. Delegation is another difficult skill to master.

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Your boss is often busy and there are a number of pressing issues to face. Your colleagues (non PAs) may have the benefit of having a manager to guide them and prioritise. However, a PA will need to develop an understanding of what is important and where they should prioritise their work.

This is a list of a few skills that are required by a PA, but there are more than these listed above. Each PA role varies and the importance and weighting of each skill can vary in turn. To find out more about becoming a PA go to

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The secrets to multi-tasking for a PA

Many companies are downsizing and as a result staff is being asked to do more. For staff, this can be stressful, frustrated and drain their energy. Although you may not be able to control the situation, there are ways to effectively manage your multi-tasking day.  

Although you may plan your day and do your best to complete all the tasks by constantly prioritising and multi-tasking, you may not be able to complete all the tasks in the course of the day. You are not a super person.  

Review your finished work and ‘work in progress’ at the end of the day. The review should also include emails, telephone calls, meetings and diary meeting with your manager. You will be pleasantly surprised how much you have completed. Concentrating on the completed tasks will enrich your spirit with self-gratification whereas concentrating on the unfinished tasks will give a feeling that you did not do a good job today. 

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You should plan your work for the day by prioritising. In order to prioritise effectively you should ask yourself “what is the intended result if this action is taken or not taken? Can you defer or delete it? 

Can you reset the deadlines?” You also need to manage your priorities successfully.

You need to manage your time for any interruptions during the day. For example someone may ask for five minutes to discuss some point. If it is not that important to your work, then you can mention you have deadlines but will see them at a certain time later in the day. Many times they can find someone else for the discussion and they do not return.

Before you agree to take on any task that is not part of your job you should think carefully of how long it will take to complete the task and also consider any other pending tasks you have.

Manage your emails instead of them dictating your daily work load so set time intervals when you will read and reply to emails. Although some people tend to look for an instant reply, this is not necessary as you may lose precious time reviewing email. You reply on the same day but not instantly unless, of course there is an important message.

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You need to be aware of whether you are organised or not. Some people are naturally organized and others are not. Some people can multi-task with many jobs on the go while others can do only one thing at a time. PAs, secretaries, administrators and Office managers need to multi-task but should be very careful that they lose count of the many jobs they have started. 

Your job is not about making good money; it should also about having a good life. This means you need to balance your work life and your social life.  Wherever you spend your time, your motivation and your energy is where you will get the highest results.  

To find out more about becoming a PA or Executive PA go to