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EA Direction

  • 1.  EA Direction

    Posted 02-09-2022 11:01

    I was looking for some feedback, I have recently started in the EA role and not sure when to step in and not. Did anyone struggle with this? I would say our Board isn't overly organized and I am trying to get things on track but also feel sometimes it might not be my place....

    Does anyone have any Board Specific courses you would recommend for an EA or Directors?

    Katie O'Hara
    Executive Assistant / Accounts Payable
    Alberta Construction Safety Association

  • 2.  RE: EA Direction

    Posted 02-10-2022 08:10
    A few things I would suggest:

    1.  YOU are the Executive Assistant, and if you feel there are some helpful implementations, then you should be speaking with your executive.
    2.  TRY ... if they don't like it, they will tell you.  Don't take it personally, it's just the job.
    3.  Course suggestions:
    a. Rhonda Scharf, On The Right Track Training - "Dealing With Difficult People"; also get on her mailing list for her helpful newsletters, and follow her on Facebook
    b. Carol Schulte - "Get Your Brave On"
    c. Toastmasters International - How to run a meeting
    d. Crissy Scivicque, Eat Your Career - become a member of the Career Library, and you will find loads of helpful courses and resources

    Kim Picard
    Executive Administrative Officer
    Government of Canada
    (613) 291-4330

  • 3.  RE: EA Direction

    Posted 02-10-2022 08:53
    Hi Katie, 
    If you are looking for formal Board related education, check this out https://cscs.org/. They have on demand, webinars, a community for members to ask questions, even a designation course on Board governance. Though please note they are expensive.

    Preethi Balasubramanian
    Executive Assistant
    Menten AI

  • 4.  RE: EA Direction

    Posted 02-10-2022 09:15

    Hi Katie,

    The Government of Alberta, Community Development Unit hosts a series of webinars on board development and the various roles. They are listed on eventbrite and might be a great starting point. 

    MacEwan also offers an excellent class on minute taking that is specific to boards. During the class there is an online forum so you can connect with other admins and ask specific questions. 

    When in doubt, ask. Communication is so essential.

    Hope this helps.
    Good luck!

    Vanessa Bower
    Director's Administrative Assistant II
    Strathcona County Family and Community Services

  • 5.  RE: EA Direction

    Posted 02-11-2022 10:56
    CDU FTW! I work closely with this area.

    Sarah Green
    Executive Assistant
    Government of Alberta

  • 6.  RE: EA Direction

    Posted 02-10-2022 09:26
    Shelagh Donnelly has some Board webinars to watch. 

    LOVE Rhonda Scharf for anything!

    Corinne Mireault
    Executive Assistant
    Encore Business Solutions Inc.

  • 7.  RE: EA Direction

    Posted 02-10-2022 10:08
    As you said you're new to the position, you could ask for a meeting with your boss/board to talk about expectations. Discuss what the board expects from you, how they want their packages put together/delivered and how they want to be communicated to. Also discuss the areas that you've found needing improvement. Being upfront saying you've found ways to make it better, might be why they've hired you. Ask for feedback. And remember the directors are people like you. I work with a board and one VP used to tell me not to email the directors that all communication should go through that VP, not to bother the directors. Sometimes it was more efficient to email a director specifically. And most are really nice people. (That VP has retired so if I need to contact one, I do) I've been in my position for almost 14 years working with a board. Hope this helps.

    Tammie Best
    Senior Executive Assistant
    Canada Hibernia Holding Corporation

  • 8.  RE: EA Direction

    Posted 02-10-2022 10:30
    Hi Kaite, 
    What a great question and probably one we deal with all the time as EA's. 
    What is the relationship with your CEO/ED? I would suggest you speak with them first and they may be able to give you guidance. I have full respect of my Board that I can speak up when necessary, but only to clarify items. Often we have to let them muddle through.

    Gillian Fernie
    Executive Assistant
    Shepherds of Good Hope

  • 9.  RE: EA Direction

    Posted 02-10-2022 11:42
    Everyone's advice on here is so great and I agree with it all! The only thing I would add, is that it can take time. Number one yes, talk with whoever you report to in order to get clear direction. In time, you'll know when it's a good idea to speak up, and when it's not. I haven't worked with boards myself, but I've been an EA to business owners for 10 years. I have to remind myself that I am an extension and a reflection of my boss. We've built a relationship (it took time) and I know when to say the things he may not have the courage to say, and I know when to not say them and ask him about them privately after a meeting to ensure I'm on the same page as him so we can keep the company moving in the desired direction together.

    Cynthia Benedict
    Executive Assistant
    ServiceMaster of Fraser Valley

  • 10.  RE: EA Direction

    Posted 02-10-2022 20:20
    Katie, I have both worked for - and been on - various boards. I would suggest sounding out one or two board members privately on ideas you have for improvement - if they pertain to items in your scope (e.g. organization of meetings, materials, action-item tracking/follow-up). That way you can get some buy-in before suggesting changes. (If your boss is on the board, then I'd start with them.)
    Although you don't work for a non-profit, it might be worth you checking out the Alberta Government's board development program - it's specifically designed for those with little experience: Board Development Program

    Bridget Toms
    Executive Assistant
    Horton CBI Limited

  • 11.  RE: EA Direction

    Posted 04-02-2023 21:19

    Hi Katie:

    Late reply (just joined AAP) but Capacity Canada runs an Executive Assistant webinar once or twice a year that I attended last year and found helpful.  Not sure when their next one is... one of the presenters has a blog called the Governance Guys.  Maybe one of these resources will be helpful.



    Diana Bumstead

  • 12.  RE: EA Direction

    Posted 04-06-2023 08:19

    Hi Katie,

    Everyone has great input. I agree. I think the first step is discussing with your direct support on expectations. As a new employee, it can sometimes be best to begin with a fly on the wall approach, take in everything, note your thoughts and start with that one on one discussion. Then if you get the go ahead, you'll start to have a better idea of which items can be brought up live and which should be asked about after. My Executives encourage me to give my input and support changes etc. I base my style on the meeting I'm in (some I'm quite vocal involved and others I sit back and listen - especially when I'm taking minutes). One thing I've learned is each leader is going to have a different style and preference so starting with your direct support and learning their communication style and preferences is quite beneficial. There will likely be different personalities and personalities in the room as well, that may impact your steps. FYI: I don't support a board in my office job but do support Executives. I hope that helps. 

    Caitlyn Hamblin
    Executive Assistant
    Lindsay Construction