16 May 2010

Whose meeting is it anyway?

Do you ever get a meeting request and an agenda has not been provided, or if it is a teleconference the call-in details have not been given or the boardroom hasn't been booked for an internal meeting?  Whose responsibility is it anyway?

When booking meetings ownership of the meeting has to be established.  The person sending out the request for the meeting and asking for dates would be considered the meeting organizer.  They are responsible for canvassing the participants for dates and determining the date everyone is available and communicating that information to the participants by sending out a meeting request to everyone or emailing the date (depending on how you or your organization prefers to send notices of meetings).  This person is also responsible for making sure the agenda is sent out on time and will need to set a reminder to the meeting Chair to make sure that is done.  They should also provide call-in numbers for a teleconference and ensure someone is the moderator for the call and that the appropriate information is sent to that person (this would be the Chair or the person who called the meeting).  They would also need to book a boardroom and make other arrangements as necessary.

If you are not the organizer, you still have a responsibility to provide available dates in a timely manner, set a reminder to make sure there is an agenda and if there isn't, email to ask for one.  You also need to make sure your boss is aware of the call-in numbers and if they are the moderator that number is made available to them.

I love having a checklist so suggest for each meeting you start a checklist to make sure you cover all the bases.  This checklist should have the following information:
  • Meeting name, date and name of person you are arranging the meeting for (if you work for more than one person)
  • Names of people that are required at the meeting
  • Purpose of the meeting
  • Time required for the meeting and location
  • Canvass for available dates (I usually don't give more than 3 or 4 dates)
  • Has an agenda been provided?
  • Is the boardroom booked?
  • If it is a teleconference have the call-in numbers been provided and moderator code provided to the appropriate person?
If you are unsure who is responsible for the meeting -- ASK!  You don't want to find out on the day of the meeting that you were the person that was supposed to book the boardroom or provide the call-in codes.  When I provide my boss's available dates I usually put in the email "I look forward to receiving the agenda (or call-in numbers) and location of the meeting."

9 May 2010

Building Relationships one Assistant at a Time

Assistants are in contact with other assistants on a daily basis.  It is important to build relationships with those we work with, but what about assistants we don't work with?

I breathe a sigh of relief when I get someone's assistant on the phone or receive an email from them.  If I hear from the assistant I know I am going to get answers and the process of setting up a meeting will go smoothly, but should I try to develop a working relationship with them?  Our bosses know the value of building work relationships and I think it is valuable for us as well.

My former boss was a lawyer, so building client relations was very important to him.  As his assistant I kept that in mind when dealing with his clients and their assistants. I had always made a point of getting to know the various assistants I worked with as I found it to be useful for both of us.  I could help them and they could help me, but I also found it to be good networking.  I heard about my current job from an assistant I dealt with regularly.  She received a job posting that she thought I would be interested in so passed it along to me and I have done the same for others.

I also get good tips from other assistants.  If I deal with someone and can see that they have organized something well, I will make sure to ask them about it. Or if I know they have a particular expertise, I will ask them their secret to success.  I have learnt some great tips that way.

Knowing assistants and having a working relationship with them is very important and can make the difference when you need to set up a meeting or if your boss needs to have a quick phone call with their boss. 

I never underestimate the value of my interactions with other assistants both on and off site. They are a valuable resource and I appreciate them.