Welcome to part four of five of ‘Upping Your Game for Executive Assistants’. In this penultimate blog in the series we consider the power of investing in yourself.

CPD isn’t just about attending a training session or conference. It’s anything and everything that is contributing to your learning and development.

So, what is CPD?

CPD stands for Continuing or Continuous Professional Development. As the name implies, it is the term used to describe activities that contribute to your learning and development and which enable you to continuously improve your professional effectiveness in the workplace.

Keep a regular log of your activities. This log is a fantastic thing to attach to your CV/resume if and when you come to apply for new positions. It’s also a great document to share with your Executive during your performance review. It’s proof that you’re really “upping your game” by being proactive at keeping up to date with the latest thinking and learning in the EA and business world. If you’d like a copy of the CPD template I personally use, contact me

Why is CPD important?

When considering the importance of anything, it is useful to identify the impact and benefit from three different perspectives, namely:

1. WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?
2. WIIFH – What’s In It For Him/Her? (Him/Her being your Executive(s)).
3. WIIFT – What’s In It For Them? (Them being your organisation/company as a whole)

1.WIIFM – What’s in it for Me?

  • CPD is truly bespoke to you. You can identify what gaps you have in your skills, learning and knowledge and design a CPD plan that ensures you can, and indeed will, focus on and meet your career goals.
  • Your CPD log is a unique document and record of your commitment to lifelong learning. It can be an absolute confidence booster to read over your own CPD log with all your activities and achievements concentrated in one document. Always be proud of your CPD document as proof that you value your profession and have embraced lifelong learning.
  • You are more “marketable” if you can demonstrate to your current, or future, employer your commitment to your profession and that you have logged your CPD. Your log is a showcase for your achievements.
  • You will raise your credibility in the workplace by demonstrating commitment to your own learning and development and your desire to grow.
  • Committing to regular CPD means you can keep up to date with the latest technology and business thinking and strategies. This will increase your value in your organisation as you will be able to contribute and implement the most current working practices.
  • Implementing new learning gained through CPD can ensure you are the most effective and efficient in your role, ultimately ensuring your wellness in the workplace.
  • You can demonstrate “expertise” in certain areas, which will foster respect from your team members who will seek your expert opinion. This has implications for career progression and could open doors as you are likely to be considered the very best person to take on board new challenges and projects.
  • You can study towards recognised qualifications such as the SFJ Awards – Level 3 Certificate in Professional PA & Administration Skills or develop your strategic awareness with an accredited Mini MBA Programme. Attainment of these qualifications or Programmes will add credibility to your CV/resume.
  • By constantly updating your skill set and embracing new learning, thinking and strategies you are also learning to deal positively with change.

2.WIIFH – What’s in it for Him/Her?

  • Your Executive will be better supported. By implementing new learning which makes you more effective and efficient in your working practices, you are freeing up not only your own time but also theirs.
  • Raising your profile and credibility in the workplace means your Executive(s) will respect and trust your expertise and knowledge. This will free up their time as they are more likely to pass on decisions and tasks to you.
  • Quite simply, many believe that “A happy EA makes for a happy Executive”!

3.WIIFT – What’s in it for Them?

  • A valued EA who has been supported with CPD is more likely to be dedicated to their organisations and feel a sense of belonging.
  • Promoting CPD will optimise staff morale and ensure staff are motivated and more likely to contribute to the organisation’s brand and image.
  • Succession planning is optimised – well-trained and valued employees are more open to change and indeed will embrace new challenges within the organisation, putting themselves forward and stepping up to promotions.

Where can I get CPD?

  • Any activity that is focused on improving your professional effectiveness can be classed as CPD. Training, workshops, conferences and events, idea/best practice sharing sessions, webinars, e-learning and reading industry magazines, training articles or blog posts (like this one!) can all be logged as CPD.
  • Think about joining a local EA networking group where you can learn and network with other EAs and take inspiration from visiting business experts and trainers. You can read more on this in part one of this guide.
  • Read industry magazines and articles to keep up to date with events in your area and what’s going on in your industry sector.
  • Look up The Institute of Administrative Management (IAM), the oldest professional body for business and administrative managers in the UK.

When should I be attending CPD events?

You may be thinking that your working day is full enough without having to attend training/workshops or involve yourself in activities that contribute to your CPD – plus you’re going to need time to log it all down too of course. You are not alone in your thinking. But read through “The Why” and the benefits (WIIFM) of CPD again and think of the opportunities you will be missing out on, or jeopardising, by not committing to it .

As the name implies, this is your commitment to continuous professional development – so make it continuous. Take on board the advice of Stephen R Covey in his publication The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Individuals who are the most personally effective spend time scheduling in training and personal development activities.

Make sure you have CPD activities scheduled into your calendar and set aside a regular time to update your CPD log, so your log is always as up to date as possible.

Who can help me with CPD?

The first person to help with CPD is YOU!

YOU need to commit to CPD and be in the right mindset. Understand the benefits. Understand the importance of investing in your own development. Commit to and embrace new learning and be proactive in ensuring you get it.

When you are offered training, grasp it.

Think future and long-term. Ignore that little voice that says you’re too busy to take a day out of the office or to “pause” on your task list as you join a live webinar. New learning can ultimately ensure you are more productive and motivated and the most personally effective people are those who invest in their own personal and professional development.

I recognise and acknowledge that many EAs do not have the backing, support and funding available in their organisations where training and CPD is concerned. When you are applying for any new position ensure you ask questions around CPD – what level of support and funding will be available to you? Let any potential new employers know you value CPD, it features top of your “this is important to me” list and you want to ensure CPD is an integral element of your new role.

For those already in EA positions who are inspired by this article, find out what initiatives, funding and support is available. Speak to your manager, speak to your HR/L&D Department. Who in your organisation has the authority to agree, “sign off” and assign a budget to your training and development? Identify them and share the benefits of CPD from their perspective. Ensure they know the positive impact CPD can have and how this can contribute ultimately to the company’s success.

Put a Proposal Together

Put together your proposal, in effect your “business case”, for training and development. Draw on everything you know about the person you are communicating with. Would an appointment with them in the morning or late afternoon work best? When are they likely to be most focused on giving you the attention you are asking for? When could you book out a meeting room? Could you pull together a presentation for the person who likes “visuals”? Could you get testimonials and sound bites from other EAs (and their managers) who commit to CPD and have first-hand experience of the positive impact they are adding? What other research can you do around CPD?

Remember as well that there are lots of free-to-attend events that will provide you with CPD hours. There are networking groups you can attend with other EAs, which are a fantastic opportunity to share best practice, learn from others in the profession and hear from visiting guest speakers and trainers.

Welcome to the final part of ‘Upping Your Game for Executive Assistants’. Let’s highlight the impact of pushing forward your ideas, proposals and suggestions and how this will impact your career.

Putting forward your ideas is a great way of demonstrating your interest and love of the business you are working in. It contributes to your credibility as a valued team member and will not only help to “up your game” but that of your Executive(s), your team members and organisation as you strive for improved processes, procedures and initiatives that inspire and motivate.

I truly believe you are in a unique and hugely privileged position – you get to see, hear and experience what’s happening in your organisation from the “shop floor” to the board room table and are privy to lots of information.

So it makes sense then that you are in an ideal position to put forward ideas, proposals and suggestions when you notice what can be improved or changed. To deliver the most impactful communication you can tap into something called The Power of Three and use the IMPACT model.

So, what is The Power of Three?

“The Power of Three” a principle that implies that things that come in threes are more satisfying, effective and memorable. The Power of Three is fun, thought-provoking and easy to apply to your communication.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Think about it. When you introduce three things – this is the smallest number you can use to produce a rhythm or pattern to your communication, whilst still remaining catchy, simple and memorable. All Good then (not Bad or Ugly).

You’ll notice the use of the Power of Three in storytelling, films and advertising.

Think back to your favourite childhood books – “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” or “The Three Little Pigs” (excuse me whilst I have a flashback to my Ladybird book collection!).

Cuddled up on the sofa watching a movie you might choose “The Three Stooges”, “Three Amigos” or “Three Men and a Baby”. Or, with the festive season on our doorstep, you might settle down to watch a Dickensian classic such as “A Christmas Carol” (not the Muppet version please!) where Scrooge is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

Traditionally sporting events (including the amazing recent Olympics and Paralympics) award Gold, Silver and Bronze to worthy winners. Famous advertising slogan examples are the UK’s “Stop, Look and Listen” campaign to promote safety when crossing our busy roads. How about “A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play”? Even hashtags are joining in the fun with one of my favourites being #ThisGirlCan, the Sport England campaign inspiring more women to be active.

Three priests and three boys appear in Mozart’s 1791 Opera “The Magic Flute”.

The Holy Trinity is the father, the son and the Holy Spirit.

On the witness stand your oath is to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.

Some of the most famous and memorable speeches practice “The Power of Three”.

In Martin Luther King Jr’s “Non-Violence and Racial Justice” speech he compares “insult, injustice and exploitation” with “justice, goodwill and brotherhood”. And an example of the attraction of “The Power of Three” is evident when we quote “blood, sweat and tears” – an amendment to Winston Churchill’s original “blood, toil, tears and sweat”.

So how can you use this knowledge to add IMPACT to your own communication?

By including the principles of The Power of Three in your own communication (whether written or verbal) your audience is more likely to remember what you have shared.

Use the IMPACT model to put forward your ideas and proposals and include The Power of Three.

Here’s the model:

I Introduce your idea/proposal and employ KISS (Keep It Short and Simple)

M Main Reasons: identify the main reasons and use the “Power of Three”

P Problems: Be ready to answer any potential problems or queries that could arise

A Appeal: to Logic (e.g. it will save us money) and emotion (e.g. it is good for team morale)

C Credibility – add this with supporting evidence/stats/info

T Thank your audience for listening and take any questions

As an example then:
“I suggest you put into practice “The Power of Three” when communicating (I). You will be able to share knowledge that is more effective, impactful and memorable (M). I agree it might take some practice, but “practice makes perfect” (P). By using “The Power of Three” you can better engage, inspire and lead those you are communicating with (A). Think about some of our famous orators such as Martin Luther King Jr and Winston Churchill ……(C). Thanks for taking the time to let me share my proposal with you (T). Any questions?”