Engagement Manager: The New Player On Your Team
Hiring an Executive Assistant can feel like an indulgence. Do you really have enough work to warrant hiring someone else? How much time do you have to train someone in your practices? How soon will you feel the relief from finally getting help? The promise of someone coming in and reliving some of your burdens might seem like a far-fetched dream. Maybe you’ve seen an executive and their EA who seem to have an unspoken bond and you want to have the same sort of partnership in your business life. A symbiotic and productive relationship won’t happen overnight but can be built slowly by making sure you have all of the right elements: the person, the environment, and the role itself.
If you’ve had a bad experience with an Executive Assistant before, chances are the relationship failed in one of two ways. Either the EA was underutilized or you were underwhelmed with their performance. In the first case, you didn’t give them enough to do and, in the second, they didn’t do enough on their own. Many hands-on business executives have trouble relinquishing any substantial amount of control of their operations. Maybe you only gave the new hire a few responsibilities like travel bookings or email and contact management. While helpful, not enough of a dent was made in your overwhelmed schedule so you felt the position wasn’t really as game-changing as you thought. In the second case with a failed EA, maybe your expectations of what they could accomplish were set a bit too high. You expected them to be able to anticipate your needs before you even spoke to them. In hindsight, that was bound to fail. The problem in both failures is that the role of Executive Assistant wasn’t properly defined and set with realistic expectations.
Maybe the key to finding the balance in the role of your Executive Assistant is as simple as changing the name of the role itself. Patrick Ewers of Mindmaven suggests creating the role of Engagement Manager or EM. In his own words, “an engagement manager is a hybrid between a skilled EA and chief of staff, whose primary responsibility is empowering you to reach your fullest potential as a leader.” By adding the elements of the chief of staff, this new role has more responsibilities than the usual Executive Assistant. This does mean any “control freak” execs will have to get comfortable giving up responsibilities. In time though, the Engagement Manager will offer such relief to your schedule that the dream team experience will be coming into shape in real life. For a better understanding of Patrick’s Engagement Manager concept and how you can use his experience to hire an EM or promote an EM from within, read his full article here.
Updating the name of the position to Engagement Manager has the added effect of separating the role from the stereotype of an executive assistant as just a service provider. Instead, an EM is more like a partner to their exec. This has a positive impact on the employee and also on their engagement with the business as a whole. With added responsibilities, more autonomy, and a better, more impactful title, your Engagement Manager will feel more invested in their role and look for ways to be more productive and effective in their role. As their confidence and experience increase, other employees will begin to recognize when they can approach your EM for help or guidance rather than putting more on your plate. To highlight how the role is more robust than just an EA, let’s look at how an Engagement Manager could fundamentally improve the work-life of, say, a real estate agent:
1. Communication is a priority in the real estate market and it is one of the most time-consuming aspects of the role of an agent. Imagine if your EM was able to draft ready-to-send follow-up communications on your behalf after a client phone call, team meeting, or other interaction that you could review and send with just a click. As they monitor your Inbox, your EM can categorize messages into 1) items that require action, 2) drafted correspondence ready for review and 3) simply FYI. Poring over those emails and deciding what is relevant leaves you, the exec, free to focus on the high-level business decisions that require your attention.
2. Personalization is another way that real estate agents set themselves apart from the competition. Your EM is another set of ears in every meeting and another set of eyes on your emails. They can use this information to add personal touches to your regular communication with clients, employees and even your personal contacts. Mentioning an upcoming birthday, asking about a recent trip, or even remembering something from your last interaction gives the impression that not only you, but your team and your business really do care.
3. In the real estate industry, keeping your commitments is a golden rule. Whether it is a due date for your licensing renewal, work deadlines, or countless meetings, they all need to be managed and maintained. Your Engagement Manager can organize and prioritize your schedule so that nearly every commitment is kept and every obligation completed. In some instances, even the commitment to time off needs to be adhered to and your EM can help you set boundaries to achieve that as well.
Over time, your relationship with an Engagement Manager will feel easier and easier but remember it won’t be perfect from the beginning. Try not to fall into old habits, remember to delegate wherever possible, and give your EM a chance to own their position and show their true potential. At Teamswell, we are intrigued by Patrick’s innovative approach to the position at an exec’s right hand and we help partner execs with nearshored candidates from Latin America.
If you’re interested in learning how the Engagement Manager role can revitalize your business life, reach out to our team today!