An assistant can be an indispensable member of a team. They support others in the business so that it can run smoothly, but not every assistant is created equal. There are individual characteristics that predispose an individual to success as an assistant. These are best understood in the context of an assistant’s personality profile which will help you understand not only what they can do, but how they will perform.
Using a DISC profile for a current or potential employee in an assistant role is one of the best ways to understand how they will fit in with your team and behave in workplace relationships. A DISC assessment can assess a person’s Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance personality traits and how they’ll affect workplace behaviour.
Whether you’ve got what it takes to succeed as an assistant is not about having any one thing. A combination of skills, experience, and personality characteristics may set you up to perform well in any assistant role. But understanding how your personality affects your working relationships is a necessary prerequisite.
Traits of Excellence in an Administrative Assistant
The role of an assistant is to perform detailed tasks essential to keep a business running smoothly and efficiently. An assistant role might include a variety of different tasks at any one time depending on the demands of the business and the needs of the people they assist. To be a successful assistant, it helps to possess a range of skills and abilities that are adaptable to varied circumstances.
As an assistant, you spend a lot of time juggling different tasks; at any given time, an assistant might be going from answering calls and emails, to dealing with paperwork and documents, to booking travel and making reservations, and much more. Having well tuned organisational skills as an assistant will make your job easier and make you better in your role. A successful assistant will have experience or capabilities at keeping detailed to-do lists, developing schedules and timelines to ensure deadlines are met, and following through on tasks to completion.
Attention to Detail
The age-old saying that, ‘The devil is in the details,’ could not be more true. Developing strategies, dictating commands, and managing team members are all important skills that drive a business forward, but execution is equally important. An industrious assistant pays close attention to the details to make sure nothing is missed and all their ducks are in a row. Thoroughness and accuracy are relevant skills for every assistant.
There is truly never enough time in the day, so being able to manage your time efficiently as an assistant is imperative. Time management works in symbiosis with good organisational skills. By setting goals, knowing which tasks to prioritise, and planning your days intentionally, you can manage the time you allot to each task to make sure you get the most out of your day.
Beyond managing your own time, you also have to manage other people’s time when coordinating meetings, conferences, and events. It’s important to identify essential attendees and be considerate of their needs while still meeting organisational goals.
As an assistant you are likely to come across dilemmas and unexpected situations in the workplace. Problem solving skills and critical thinking are ideal for this role to create effective solutions to any problems that may arise. Because an assistant may encounter an array of unexpected obstacles in performing their job, they have to have the flexibility to shift gears and meet the needs of the day. Problems with scheduling, spaces, logistics, dietary needs, transportation, accommodations, or much more can arise, and an adept assistant will have alternate options on the ready for when the unexpected eventually happens.
Bringing together all the advantageous skills of an assistant is the overarching skill of communication. Being able to communicate well with others, whether it’s verbally in person, over the phone, or in whatever medium is available, enables anyone to get their message across in pursuit of their goals. An assistant’s work starts and finishes with communication. They need to identify and understand the needs of the people they are assisting, and then work to meet those needs by collaborating with others.
What DISC Profile is Best for an Assistant?
While no one DISC profile guarantees success as an assistant, certain personality traits may make an individual more likely to perform well in the role. These include:
D. A moderate to low level Dominance which will enable them to make careful and deliberate decisions.
I. A moderately high Influence for a personable character who can work well with a variety of people.
S. High level Stability will help the candidate provide consistent and reliable results.
C. High level Compliance will enable a candidate to focus on accuracy and an eye for detail.
What Makes a Successful Assistant?
Assistants bring many great qualities to their roles and are often referred to as a jack of all trades. They have to take on a wide range of tasks, often in the space of a short time or under pressure. A mix of qualities can make you a successful assistant, but understanding how your personality affects your working relationships will increase your chances of success. Advantageous skills and traits include:
Accountability - encompasses trustworthiness and attention to detail, doing what you say you will do
Strategic thinking - the ability to understand the bigger picture and how smaller tasks contribute to overall success
Diligence - a never quit attitude ensures all projects are seen through to completion
A successful assistant will also be flexible, helpful, proactive, focused, a good listener, and a professional with the ability to prioritise.