As an Executive Assistant, you are often your Executive's closest sounding board, and being able to give effective feedback is essential.
It is all too easy to fall into the trap of being a 'yes man' and applauding every idea put forward, but in doing so, are you missing out on an opportunity to be a better EA? Being trusted to be able to give well-thought-out responses to strategies and ideas is priceless, and will only build your working relationship. Here are a few ways to ensure that you can give valuable feedback.
Know the business
Without understanding the business and its people, it is not easy to give feedback on whether an idea is a good one or not.
Knowing the ins and outs of the company you are working for is essential. Learning where it is headed and what drives it is critical to being able to give relevant feedback.
If you need to know more about certain areas of your company, try scheduling in lunch meetings with people in those departments and ask them questions. Find out the areas where your company wants to grow, its strengths and weaknesses, and about the market that it competes in.
When possible, ask questions that force a deeper look at the idea being presented, and in angles it has not yet been considered in. This shows an understanding of what they are saying and questions like these allow any major problems to show themselves before the idea is acted upon.
An objective perspective
As an EA, when an idea is presented to you it's important to try and give an objective perspective on it. Your Executive is invested, and may not be able to take a step back like you are able to. Being objective means that you can point out areas that may need more work, or see strengths or further opportunities that they may not have yet considered. It can also allow you to suggest alternate solutions not yet thought of. Knowing you will listen to proposals with an objective perspective allows your Executive to trust you as a sounding board.
Sometimes it is not easy to give critical feedback, especially if your Executive is invested in an idea and is not willing to hear its faults. But good, honest feedback is important as it means that when the idea is progressed it has been polished and thought through. It may be tough to learn how to do so now, but both you and your Executive will be grateful for it in the future.