Build a trusted working relationship with business support.
Client Purple is an IT consultant who travels frequently to client locations, employing a business support professional to assist with day-to-day operations. Whilst manager and support both have proven expertise, neither are confident of working together seamlessly nor moving toward a trusted relationship, although both firmly believe effective support can make an enormous contribution to business productivity.
Amid day-to-day pressures and with consultant time at the office limited, it proved difficult to initiate a routine for focused communication that would generate a personal chemistry and one-to-one dynamic, which often proves as essential as experience and skillset. The proposed solution was an immediate scheduling of regular discussions supported by set agendas, and protection of adequate time in joint calendars.
Annual performance reviews provide feedback on key attributes such as autonomous decision-making, delivery under pressure, business instincts and acumen, and anticipatory skills. Manager and support assess willingness to stretch beyond comfort zones and potentially assume new responsibilities. Managers consider which portions of their workload can be delegated or restructured to allow partial delegation. This is the opportunity to mutually clarify expectations and high-level objectives of the business support role.
Quarterly business reviews are an opportunity to comprehend current business position, whether positive or challenging, and can arm business support with authority and confidence which will exude into their representation of the brand. Open discussion of business strategy and appropriate share of results increases ability to manage information flow, deal with basic finances and forward plan. Line managers can empower support by clarifying to clients they hold genuine authority and are trusted to make decisions. This is the opportunity to mutually define realistic key performance indicators and strategy.
Monthly operational reviews will arm business support with the ability to anticipate needs, requests and issues and better predict their best handling and response, often before the manager is even aware. Knowledge of key client deliverables allows them to become the eyes and ears of the professional, being alert to potential problems, gathering, collating and recording all useful data. This promotes autonomy, proactivity and ability to take initiative. This is the opportunity to mutually agree timeframes for goal and project delivery.
Weekly updates are brief, check-in discussions to share highlights of various priorities being juggled. They allow business support to rise to daily challenges with minimal stresses or concerns, and bolster ability for continuous networking, permitting improved address of challenges on a day-to-day basis when no two days are the same. This is the opportunity to mutually align tasks and raise general issues.
Business support functioning separate from managers will be unable to deliver truly exceptional service. In time, with regular opportunities to build rapport, they understand unspoken requirements and react to subtle cues with appropriate timing and judgement. Feeling in partnership and enjoying collaboration, each will instinctively comprehend they are one half of business success.