Making the Transition from Executive Assistant to COO

First, we talked about the two types of assistants.

Then, we covered the responsibilities of the COO.

And now, we’re going to discuss how you can make the transition from executive assistant to COO.

I’ve said before that it takes about six months to learn the executive assistant job, a year to get comfortable in the position, and two years to master the role. It is at the point of mastery that you become the COO.

Why two years? I think that’s how long it takes for you to experience a wide gamut of the problems and solutions that will be thrown at you. I also think that during that time, you will have witnessed or participated in the hiring process for new team members. Agents don’t always follow the same hiring path, but if the team is growing (and it should be since the agent hired you to help grow it!) then you will have experienced the hiring process in one way or another.

I also think that two years is enough time to become the person you need to be as COO.

What do I mean by that?

You need confidence and leadership skills to be the COO of a real estate team. As I see it, people aren’t born with these skills. They are developed through experience and purposeful study.

To be confident and be a leader, you’ll need to take risks like speaking up and voicing your opinion. Like asking for what you want. Like calling out your agent or another team member on bad behavior. Like making mistakes and taking responsibility for them. Like researching and implementing new systems and teaching the team how to use them.

Do the work and you will become who you need to be.

Additionally, the transition from EA to COO involves a very critical step of deciding between you and your lead agent, who is responsible for what. There must be an absolutely clear dividing line separating responsibilities.

For example, it doesn’t make sense for you to be in charge of deciding what new CRM to use, but the lead agent steps in and starts doing her own research and having her own input along the way. It also doesn’t make sense to allow the lead agent to “squirrel chase,” or move quickly from one idea to the next without fully executing on the first idea.

As COO, you need be comfortable standing up to your lead agent. You absolutely cannot be a “Yes Man”. Every plan, every system, every person you are looking at hiring has holes. It is your job to identify the holes and make recommendations based on your findings. You can’t let your lead agent influence the process in the middle of the discovery phase when you haven’t completely explored it.

Let me share with you where I see this happening.

Let’s say you and your agent agree that the CRM you are using just isn’t working. There are things both of you dislike about your current system, so you are going to test drive a few and see which one you think is best based on each of your “wants list”. You’ve also agreed that you’ll need 30 days to do the research and present your solution.

Two weeks in, your lead agent comes to you and says, “I was in a Facebook group, and Sally Agent said Transactions Fast is the hottest new CRM, and she just absolutely loves it. I went on their website and signed myself up for the free trial. It’s pretty cool and it has everything I want. I’m going to register the whole team as new users.”

Ever had this happen to you?

It is in this moment that I know whether you have transitioned to being a COO or whether you are still operating as an EA. The EA will be glad that the agent made her life easy and made the decision for her so that she didn’t have to. The COO will tell her agent that’s not how they agreed to go about getting a new CRM, and will ask that the lead agent take a step back and let the COO handle it.

That’s how you make the transition from EA to COO. You take on more and more responsibility and then as the team grows, you delegate those tasks that are better handled by someone else so that you are left with the idea-based responsibilities like choosing a new CRM, deciding what marketing paths to take, or exploring the possibility of expansion teams in new markets.

You have control over whether you want to remain an EA or become a COO. The choice is yours, but it’s possible that if you remain an EA, the rest of team could outgrow you and leave you behind.




1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Job Description for the Real Estate COO | The Assistant Files by Elizabeth Gilbert

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *