As an Assistant, observing and analyzing any situation quickly, accurately and without bias is essential. Working in a fast-paced environment can make it challenging to develop critical observational skills. Using critical observation as an Assistant is important.
We work at one hundred miles an hour, and quite often, we spend a good part of our day putting out fires and dealing with urgent matters. However, those aware of the importance of critical observation will often find themselves ahead of their peers.
To give yourself a competitive edge as an Executive or Personal Assistant and add value within your organization, you must learn the value of knowing when, where and how to use critical observation.
It can make all the difference in your ability to support those around you. This article will explore what critical observation means in practice and how it can benefit Assistants professionally and personally immensely.
What is critical observation, and how does it help you as an Assistant?
Using critical observation as an Assistant will help you enormously in the role. It will ensure you are providing real value to your Executive, who often doesn’t have the time or capacity to observe nuance or pay attention to what is happening under the surface of a situation.
Before we dive in, what do we mean by critical observation?
Critical observation means having a keen ability to observe and assess any situation quickly and accurately. It also involves developing an understanding of what is happening in any given instance, why something might be happening, and how it could be improved. This knowledge can help you make well-informed decisions that can save time and increase efficiency for yourself and your Executives.
What are the benefits of being a good observer?
Being observant allows us to be prepared to anticipate the needs of our Executives, identify problems and provide solutions to them swiftly and efficiently. It is important for Assistants to be alert and aware of the details in our Executive’s life, whether it is changes to their routine or new pressures on their time so that we can adjust how we work to support them better.
By developing critical observation skills and practicing them regularly, you will become more adept at tackling situations as they arise and coming up with creative solutions rather than looking back on something that could have been solved sooner or finding yourself fire-fighting what is now an urgent issue.
Furthermore, being watchful will allow you to improve your Executive’s efficiency by proactively managing their schedule and responsibilities, helping them focus on the essential tasks while remaining organized overall. You can then ensure a smoother day-to-day running of operations! Sounds great, doesn’t it? So how do you start to develop critical observation skills?
Be curious about what is going on around you
It is so essential for Assistants to be curious about everything that is going on around them. It is the starting point for building your critical observation skills. Take an interest in the people you interact with and the situations you find yourself in. There are always undertones and nuances that you pick up when you are observing others.
Assistants are in a great position to be able to help their Executive read a room. Attending meetings with your Executive to critically observe what is taking place and then feeding that back to your Executive could help with decision-making and relationship-building.
Be open to receiving the right information
For Assistants, so much of our time is taken up by the flow of information. We must process thousands of emails, documents, memos, correspondence and meeting requests. We are bombarded with information, some more valuable than others.
It can be overwhelming and often lead to Assistants taking a head-down approach to their work. The thought is that you will get through your workload, but the problem is that you will miss a lot of what is happening around you and become less observant.
To develop your critical observation skills, you must take a head-up approach. This means being open to information, but, more importantly, having a good understanding of what information is critical will help advance your goals and objectives.
Pay attention to what is essential and understand the less critical information to observe.
SOURCE: Practically Perfect PA