Jillian Hufnagel has been supporting executives for the last 18+ years in start-ups, SaaS, Healthcare, Education and Security companies, which gives her a unique vantage point on many relevant topics for assistants.

ep37 jillian hufnagel leader assistant

I’m thrilled to share my conversation with Jillian on Episode 37 of The Leader Assistant Podcast. She shares an overview and quick history of goal setting with OKRs and MBOs for assistants. She also shares tips for leading a team of assistants.

Listen up, take notes, and apply what Jillian shares if you want to become a goal-crushing, game-changing Leader Assistant.

Grab Jillian’s FREE Goal Setting Template here to start leveling up when it comes to your goals!

P.S. – Join the new Leader Assistant Slack Community to connect with hundreds of assistants from around the world!


Change is inevitable but personal growth is a choice.

-Bob Proctor

Jillian Hufnagel Leader Assistant
About Jillian Hufnagel

Jillian Hufnagel, Former Chief of Staff at Duo Security, has been supporting Executives for the past 18+ years in; start-ups, SaaS, Healthcare, Education and Security which has given her a unique vantage point. Having observed the dynamics of stellar teams as well as learning hands-on from teams that have effectiveness gaps, Jillian can quickly assess where teams struggle and lean in to provide guidance, coaching, and strategic support. Her approach starts with individual accountability first, team effectiveness second, and broader organizational influence last.

Jillian is also a passionate advocate for the Admin/Assistant community. Whether it’s writing blogs or recording podcasts with yours truly, speaking at an ELS Forum, sharing best practices in Tribe, Advising at the Greater Boston Admin Awards – she is always focussed on helping our collective community grow and shine.


Subscribe to The Leader Assistant Podcast so you don’t miss new episodes!

You can find the show on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and Stitcher.

Join my email list here if you want to get an email when a new episode goes live.


Join the Leader Assistant Slack Community here, or the Facebook Group here for bonus content and to network with other assistants who are committed to becoming leaders!


If you’re enjoying the podcast, please take 2 minutes to rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts here. Each review helps me stay motivated to keep the show going!


Jillian Hufnagel 0:00
I’m Jillian Hufnagel. Today’s leadership quote comes from Bob Proctor and author, speaker and coach. Change is inevitable but personal growth is a choice.

Podcast Intro 0:13
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants. Thank you for listening to The Leader Assistant Podcast. It’s episode 37

Jeremy Burrows 0:27
Welcome to the show. If you haven’t joined us on our Slack online community, you can join us at Slack.leaderassistant.com It’s where we network, support each other, help each other out. Encourage each other. Have some fun, share some funny memes. And yeah, just really network with other assistants from around the world slack.leaderassistant.com Hey, everyone. Thanks for tuning in to The Leader Assistant Podcast. Today. I’m talking with Jillian Hufnagel, Jillian, thanks for joining me.

Jillian Hufnagel 1:01
I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

Jeremy Burrows 1:04
So where are you at right now?

Jillian Hufnagel 1:08
I’m just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Been in this area for a long time. And originally actually I’m from Michigan, so shout out to my family out there.

Jeremy Burrows 1:18
Nice. So what was your very first job and what skills in that job do you still use today?

Jillian Hufnagel 1:25
You know, it’s it’s interesting. I had a lot of odd jobs when I was younger. My did a lot of babysitting. I did some mother’s helper stuff. But I also did a lot of waitressing and I started waitressing when I was about 14. And I realized very quickly that I had absolutely no business waitressing. I had no training, I had no support. And I learned very quickly that in order for me to really excel at in my waitressing profession at the time, that I really needed to take my opinion out of what I was doing. I made a terrible blunder one day telling someone that his request for order for banana pancakes was disgusting. And I realized that that was not the right thing to do. So I learned a lot about customer service in general. And how as you’re gravitating from table to table, there’s a different tone and tenor. And often at each individual table. There’s a variety of different personalities. And so you know, I spent about often on 13 years waiting tables, bartending bussing hosting, and I started to really build relationships with my regulars. I learned what they liked what they didn’t like, I learned their names. And down at the heart of all of that everything that I learned waiting tables and bartending I apply to what I do now. It’s all about making people feel good about where they’re at and what they’re doing by creating an environment for them. That works well for them and not necessarily for you. There has to be a balance, of course, because I want to make tips. And I want to you know, walk away with good money at the end of the night, when I’m waiting tables. So that you know you have to have standards. But I definitely learned customer service hands down the hard way.

Jeremy Burrows 3:20
So when and why did you become an assistant?

Jillian Hufnagel 3:23
It was interesting because I was waiting tables. And I got to know one of my regulars who was the CEO at a video game company was my first like EA gig. But prior to that, before becoming an executive assistant, I actually worked during college at Children’s Hospital in Boston. And what was really lovely about Children’s Hospital in Boston is I didn’t really see myself as an admin. I came in as an ASR two, I’m sorry, ASR one, which was an ambulatory service representative, which that title doesn’t say anything about being an administrative person. But what I was also doing, in addition to being the ASR one, where I was scheduling appointments for all of the physicians at sports medicine, I was also the administrative assistant to our back specialist. And I really started to find like the love of how I could own and manipulate the calendar in a way that was really kind of like Tetris, Tetris, but more in a strategic way, understanding what types of injuries took priority over others, and then starting to understand when you’re talking to a parent of a child that has an injury, really starting to understand like their style, I’m going to pair them with this doctor or this fellow based on what I’m hearing from them so that they’re going to have the best experience. I’m obviously not going to put someone with a back injury with a podiatrist that’s just not going to work. And so, that was, you know, that’s how I got my career started. As an admin, so shout out to all my peeps at CHB.

Jeremy Burrows 5:04
What other industries did you kind of evolve into over the years?

Jillian Hufnagel 5:10
Well, I mentioned my first like, you know, EA gig was at a video game company. And it was a video game startup. And it was really eye opening, because that’s where I absolutely fell in love with startups. I, you know, I went from Children’s Hospital and Health Care to I also did some cycle revenue management, which I realized that, you know, I don’t really love that. It’s basically collections agency for hospitals. And then going into video games, there were things that I really enjoyed about just the energy and the chaos and the fun of a startup community. And then from there, I kind of fell into the cybersecurity industry. I answered a job post on Craigslist, which even that just dates me. So now most of most of the audience knows how old I am that I found a job on Craigslist. And I had an amazing relationship with the CEO of my first cybersecurity company. And then after that I dabbled in the pregnancy marketplace. I also worked a little bit in tech ed. And then since then, I’ve pretty much spent the balance of my career in cyber, so over 10 years on cyber.

Jeremy Burrows 6:27
Do you have any crazy stories?

Jillian Hufnagel 6:30
Oh, man, well, I guess crazy. Let’s think about this. So I have like a save the day story. I have a really uncomfortable, clean up a mess story. Where should we go?

Jeremy Burrows 6:42
Let’s do let’s do a quick version of each. Okay,

Jillian Hufnagel 6:46
all right, perfect. So early in my career, I had a leader who, unfortunately would bring his dogs and his children into the office. And so I was kind of doing double duty doing my traditional administrative role, while also keeping an eye on the Munchkins making sure that they were fed and happy and not bothering the staff. And then he had a really, really bad habit of not taking the dogs out. And so they would often go to the bathroom, in his office on the floor. And it got to the point where I had to purchase a mini carpet cleaner, because it just was happening so frequently. And no amount of reminders would have him take them out. And I couldn’t take them out because I was busy running the office. So I just had to do a lot of carpet cleaning.

Jeremy Burrows 7:38
I don’t I’m not really a I like animals, but I don’t like him in my house and definitely wouldn’t want them in my office.

Jillian Hufnagel 7:47
Yeah, and then my save the day story actually is a really fun one. I had a CEO who I had a fantastic relationship with. And I got along really well with both him and his wife. And they were taking a much overdue trip. It was a trip that they had been planning on taking forever. And they finally got a break in their schedules. They were both incredibly busy folks. And, you know, he calls me from the airport. And he’s like, Jillian, I forgot my laptop at home. And I really need it for this trip. Because the laptop I have with me is not going to help me with like the international coverage that I need. I really need my PC. I said, Okay, great. I can run over there right now. So I leave the office, I jet over to his house. I grabbed the laptop. And then I drive over to Logan Airport. And he’s not in the terminal that he’s supposed to be. And he’s like, No, I’m right outside. And I was like, I don’t see you guys, and I am right in front of the gate where you’re supposed to be. And it turns out that they were in the domestic terminal, not the international terminal. And he was just so used to business travel. He was so used to going from Boston to California like clockwork, that he just naturally took them to the domestic terminal. So I said don’t worry, have you checked your bags yet? And he was like, No, meanwhile, I can hear his wife in the background being like thank God Jillian’s here. So I scoot around, I pick them up, we grab all their bags, I give him his laptop, we drive around to the to the International Terminal. I dropped them off and they ended up being able to go and just have a fantastic vacation. So that was you know, saving the day twice, once with a laptop and then also the second time with getting them to the right terminal on time and avoiding the inter airport shuttle.

Jeremy Burrows 9:40
Wow. I had I had not not quite as crazy but I had a similar time where my I dropped my executive off at the airport and I’m driving back to the office. And he calls me it’s like my driver’s license is expired. And I was like oh That’s nice. So he’s like, literally in the security line in there, like, sorry, this is expired. So I like I knew that I had we had renewed it. But what I guess he, they hadn’t gone through the mail recently. And it was just sitting in a pile of mail. So I like I hustled back to his house called the nanny on the way there and was like, go through this pile of mail and see if you can find the new license. And so she founded and ran it outside and I drove up, grabbed it and sped back to the airport. And yeah, got him going. But it was like,

Jillian Hufnagel 10:36
that’s amazing. Isn’t isn’t it such a beautiful moment when you go slightly beyond the traditional job description. And you can do that when you have a strong relationship with your leader on a personal level, where you know that they respond back to you, and they appreciate you. And so when you do those things that are above and beyond, you feel so good about it, because you know that they are really going to see that as you taking it to another level and being their strategic partner. Yeah.

Jeremy Burrows 11:14
So on the flip side, what was the biggest mistake you made as an assistant?

Jillian Hufnagel 11:20
So I made a mistake that cost me my company some money. And it was it was relatively early in my career. And it was it was a hard one. I, my CEO asked me if I could relocate a small group of our employees into a new office. And I said, Absolutely, it was just down the street, we were only moving about 30 or 40 people. And he had told me, here’s the contact information for the woman who is going to give you the specs for the new tables. She’s our interior designer, just reach out to her and get the specs for the tables. And I said, Great, I’ll do that. So I reached out to her and I get the specs for the table. And she says, Oh, I’d be happy to come over and help with the office and measure and I said we actually are subleasing a space that already has furniture in it. I really just need the sales tables. And she said, No, no, no, I don’t mind at all. It would be great to meet you. We should have a relationship anyways, I said, Okay, fine. You know, I’ll see you next week. So she comes up. She’s a very nice lady. And, you know, she’s, we’re interacting, and she’s, she takes out the tape measure. And I said, we’re really not going to make any changes in this space. And she said, Well, I know that the chairman is going to want to make some changes, because this design wise is just is not going to work. I said, I understand that you’re our interior designer, we actually in this sublease don’t have approval to change this particular space. So we’re not going to do any changes in this space, except maybe some paint. And so she kind of goes about our way, and a couple of weeks later, we get an invoice from her. And her invoice includes, like a $250 an hour charge for her time, plus her travel to and from New Jersey. So she didn’t bother to tell me that she lived in New Jersey, and that she was coming all the way up to Boston. She didn’t bother telling me that she was going to charge me for her time. And so my CEO gets this invoice. And he’s like, Jillian, did you prove this? And I was like, What? No, like, I don’t understand what is that? And he said, Well, she obviously wasn’t honest with you. And I said, No, she she didn’t describe any of that to me, but it’s clearly my fault. And he said, Well, now you’re gonna fix it, you have to fire her. And I was terrified, because, you know, I had only been on the job for a few weeks. And this person had a personal relationship with our chairman. So I reached out to her and I sent her an email and I described the situation and I said, you know, my CEO, and I have discussed this, and we feel as though it was not very appropriate, the way this was handled, and so we don’t intend to pay this invoice. And she came back and she said, Well, you’re gonna have to pay the invoice. And we and he said, it’s up to you, what do you want to do? And I said, Why don’t we pay the invoice and tell her we’re not going to work with her again. And he agreed with my judgment call and he thought that that was the right thing to do. So I had to fire the interior designer of our chairman after costing our company money. My first month on the job.

Jeremy Burrows 14:27
Oh, life life of an EA.

Jillian Hufnagel 14:32
Yeah, it’s it’s pretty challenging. But you learn a lot of hard lessons. Right? So lesson one is ask clarifying questions. Don’t ever just assume that someone is on the same page as you. And I think that that goes for not just with interior designers, it goes with your executives, it goes with your peers, it goes with your subordinates always ask clarifying questions, and in that case, I didn’t.

Jeremy Burrows 14:57
Yeah. So let’s let’s share left a little bit into a fun topic, the topic of OKRs. So can you talk about what OKR stands for? What what they are, and maybe a little bit of the history of OKRs?

Jillian Hufnagel 15:14
Sure. So okay, ours have a little bit of a soft spot for me, because I’ve spent probably the past four to five years of my career, really supporting my leaders and teams with goal setting frameworks and measurement tools. So OKRs stands for objectives and key results. And when you think about how you set and measure a goal, OKRs is a framework to do that. And so a lot of organizations are using OKRs today to not only set top line objectives for the business, but also breaking it down into key results at specific intervals, typically quarterly, to track the progress towards that main objective for the business. I really am a fan of OKRs. There’s a lot of other frameworks out there that you can use, I find that OKRs are really relevant, really robust. They work incredibly well with organizations that are of all scales and sizes, and also in different verticals, as well as different revenue areas. And what’s interesting about OKRs, to me is that they’ve actually been around in some format, since the 50s. There’s a gentleman named Peter Drucker and if you haven’t read any of his publications, you should he he really focused on measuring what matters. And in a business context, really, that means what are the the key metrics that you need to measure in order to ensure that your organization is on the right path. And he really focused on MBOs, which were management by objectives. So this was the infancy of what OKRs are today back in the 50s. And management by objectives was really focused on the individual’s achievement towards the company objectives. And oftentimes, organizations would have an incentive around it. So for example, if you are, let’s say, a director level in your organization, and you have a 20% bonus, a tied to your annual salary, and you get paid out on that, whether it’s quarterly, or BI annually. Most organizations that use MPOs, tie your individual component of your MBO into your bonus. And so if you sit down and you say, at the beginning of every quarter, I’m gonna accomplish these six things which are tied to the company level objectives. And then you sit down at the end of the quarter, and you say, I’ve achieved 75% of the things I set out to do this quarter, that means you get 75% of that 20% Bonus, based on your achievement. And when companies do this, well, employees are really emotionally and personally attached to the outcomes of the business as well as their personal outcomes. That’s the MBO model. So management by objectives, was really Peter Drucker back in the 50s. And then you started to see a little bit of a curve in the 70s, where John donor pops down to the stage. And he really starts shifting into more of the objective and key results. So this is a slight departure from the MBO because it’s really focused on the business and the teams, and not necessarily as much on the individual. That doesn’t mean that you can’t marry OKRs. With MBAs, I actually have seen that done incredibly well in the past. And I think that it’s something that I still encourage my leaders and teams to do, because it can be really effective when done well. And objectives and key results is more of a business focused take on the execution versus an individual take. And there are a variety of different tools and resources and formats that are available today. But what I would say that I’ve seen is the most effective is setting annual objectives, breaking them down into quarterly key results. Managing the scores of those key results, whether it’s weekly or bi weekly, rolling those into a monthly route check. So kind of looking at where we are in the Quarter, Month, one, month, two, month three to say, on the route to the end of the quarter. How are we achieving? And then, at the end of each quarter, doing a retrospective and saying, how did we do? What did we learn? What did we do well, what did we not do? Well, and then how are we going to use that information, to plan next quarters key results, so that it really takes on more of an ad? ITIL methodology. And so for organizations that are engineering focused, agile is something that works incredibly well with objectives and key results. I would also say the thing that I really enjoy about OKRs, is they marry incredibly well with KPIs, the key performance indicators of your business. And sometimes I like to say, when I’m in a room with people that are smarter than me, I say talk to me, like I’m a fifth grader. And so my analogy for the difference between OKRs and KPIs is, you’re going to take a road trip, you need a car, right? Your car has to run your car needs things like gas, and tires, and cooling fluid and all of the things that your car needs to run, those are your key performance indicators. Those are the things that you know, looking ahead, the business is moving in the right direction. And so those are leading indicators. So if you sit down in your car and you have a full tank of gas, that’s a leading indicator that you’re going to be able to drive X amount of miles. Those are your KPIs. That’s that dashboard in front of you with all the things that must exist in order for you to drive the car. Now, let’s say we want to drive across country, that’s your big objective. Your big objective is I have the car. Now I want to go from Boston to let’s say, Kansas City. Then you’re going to chart your course. And you’re going to say Okay, on this objective to get from Jillian’s house to Jeremy’s house, I’m going to have to stop a certain number of times to get gas, I’m gonna have to stop a certain number of times to get food. And on top of that, I also one of my goals for this objective is to have a lot of fun and see as many sites as I can. And so I’m going to stop it six national parks or I’m going to stop at, you know, to monuments. So that’s your objective. My objective is to get from Jillian’s house to Jeremy’s house, my car has to have gas has to have oil has to have cooling fluid, all of those things. And that’s how I like to visualize the difference between KPIs and OKRs.

Jeremy Burrows 22:06
That’s helpful. So what would be maybe an example of an OKR and KPI kind of narrowed down to a single executive assistant trying to work on this for themselves?

Jillian Hufnagel 22:22
Yeah, that’s a great question. So a lot of executive assistants are responsible for supporting executive recruitment. It’s a highly confidential process for your organization. And you’re often partnering with board members, executives, and recruiters. And there’s this high level of confidentiality. So your annual goal could be provides strategic support for the recruitment, hiring and onboarding of X number of executives, let’s say three. So you know that during the course of the year, you’re going to bring on three new executives. So your objective is to provide the strategic support to do that. And then each quarter, you’re going to sit down with your leader, your recruiters and your board, and you’re going to say, okay, what are the key? What are the key roles, we’re going to hire, let’s say, q1, we want to have by the end of q1, we want to have a chief marketing officer. By the end of q2, we want to have a VP of sales. And by the end of q4, we want to have our new head of people in the organization. So those are the three key roles that you want to hire over the course of the year. As the executive assistant, there are things that you’re going to want to set as your key result, your key result could be something like, I want to ensure that this executive has a stellar on site interview experience. And within that, there’s a bunch of things that you’re going to do to ensure that that experience is successful. And you’re going to want to measure that, right. And anyone who’s supported executive recruitment knows that if it goes well, there’s going to be some type of commentary, whether it’s an email or a personal comment from that person who’s interviewing back to your recruiters back to your board back to your executive to say, Gosh, Jeremy just made me feel incredible. The experience was fantastic. I felt so comfortable. Everything was lined up, my schedule and itinerary were perfect. I had a gift basket in my hotel room when I arrived. That’s how you’re going to measure that when you’re thinking about how do you create that stellar experience. So that’s a key result. I would say maybe another example, which is a little bit more business metrics focused. You might be an executive assistant that is actually supporting tracking of MBOs for your organization. So in a couple of companies that I’ve worked for, I’ve been responsible for partnering with finance, HR, and the executive team to track all of the MBOs at the beginning and the end of each quarter and partner with finance and HR to make sure that the final scores of each MBO gets paid out a pro Frequently, based on what the leader in the individual agree that their score is. So I’ll use myself as an example, I sit down with my CEO at the end of the quarter. And we review all of the six items on my MBO. I’ve already pre scored them, we have a dialogue around where we land, he typically says you’ve scored yourself too harshly, make it higher, and then I land at like a 90%. Then I make sure that the information from the private confidential MBO document gets translated with the final score on to a finance document. So that final score is on there, I have my HR partners, I partner with them to cross reference it to make sure that there’s two sets of eyes on the data. And then finance has a nonconfidential clean version of that final score without any of the commentary between the leader and the person. And then that gets paid out in payroll. So an objective could be support supports the quarterly execution of MBO, payouts for X number of employees, so for me, it was director and above, I only did that portion of the population. And then the key results would be quarterly, repeating all of that behavior. And then also, you could send another key result to say, and in addition to that, I want to get us off of spreadsheets, I want to start looking, I want to evaluate a tool that’s going to take us away from spreadsheets, so it’s no longer manual, that could be another key result to improving the MBO experience for the organization.

Jeremy Burrows 26:30
So, I’m sure there are some listening right now thinking, my company, my organization is not even close to as sophisticated as what you just described. You know, maybe it’s a small, new company that doesn’t have much structure, maybe it’s a larger but maybe old school company. Maybe it’s a nonprofit that doesn’t have all this, these kind of clear objectives. What, how would you maybe encourage an assistant in one of those scenarios to apply the maybe the even just the tactics of this whole idea to their situation?

Jillian Hufnagel 27:17
Sure. I think that regardless of the size of the organization, it’s incredibly typical that leaders are having regular scheduled one on ones with their direct reports. So let’s think about a company that maybe only has, let’s say, 25 people, you have a CEO, the CEO has, let’s say, six direct reports, the CEO, she’s meeting with her direct reports, weekly, or bi weekly, they typically have some type of one on one document that they’re tracking. In that one on one document, there could easily be a place where they’re tracking quarterly, what are the top objectives of the business that that executive is supporting. And so it’s a really light version of an MBO and an OKR. I think the other thing that you also want to think about is even a company with 25 people, the CEO is not regularly talking to all 25 people. And when you get into a hygiene of setting and cascading goals, to the organization, when you’re only 25, by the time that you hit 50, people, the hygiene of setting the goals and cascading the goals and tracking the goals is already there. And so it becomes part of your onboarding, when you’re bringing in new employees, and you’re getting them settled into the organization. If the 25 that are already there, are doing some type of goal setting and tracking, the next 25 that come in, are just going to naturally do that. And so it almost makes more sense, from a work smarter, not harder perspective to do these things when you’re small. And I can, it certainly seems overwhelming and daunting if you’ve never done it. But it’s also something that in our admin community, we’ve got amazing resources to help with these types of things. So reach out to me reach out to others in your network and say, you know, what are the best practices for how you track goals in your organization? How do you partner with HR, finance your leadership team to ensure that everyone is rowing in the same direction? Because one of the biggest challenges that leaders and organizations face is there’s lack of clarity around why the organization exists, right? And what the organization is trying to achieve. And as organizations grow, if it’s not clear from the top level, what are the key objectives that we’re all focusing on and everyone’s going in that direction and charting that path? That’s where you start to have breakdowns and communication. That’s where you have breakdowns in effect. shouldn’t see, that’s where you often have loss in revenue, because you’ve got folks on your team that are not all focused on the same things. And it creates silos. And so a lot of the things that we face as EAs or a AAs is gap in what’s happening in the organization, we’re, they’re filling a gap, because there’s lack of clarity, where they’re helping one leader understand what the other leader is trying to say. Because the clarity is not coming from the top.

Jeremy Burrows 30:32
So what if a goal changes?

Jillian Hufnagel 30:38
They should so, so thinking about, especially if you’re in like a smaller organization, and you’re doing, you know, anywhere between 10 and 50 million in revenue, the likelihood is that someone might be looking at you to acquire you. And so as an organization, you have to think about, you know, what our goals are today, they’re not going to be what the same this time next year, when you’re thinking about how you change goals, it has to be incredibly focused, and thought out and transparent. And so you can’t just change goals behind the door, you have to change a goal, you have to communicate to the organization, why the goal has changed. And you have to provide the context of what it’s going to give to the organization by changing that goal. So things that don’t often change are like revenue targets, when you sit down at the beginning of the year, and you set your key performance indicators that your organization wants to achieve, let’s say $50 million in revenue this time next year. And let’s say that’s a 50 to 75% growth for your organization, it’s unlikely that that target is going to change much for the overall year. But what might happen is how that breaks down quarter to quarter that might change based on seasonality, you might have, let’s say you are selling into the federal government, the federal government’s buying cycle is in the fall. So you’re gonna make the majority of your revenue in the fall. So you’re going to set your quarterly targets based on where you’re going to make the most revenue. From a business perspective, behind the scenes, let’s say you’re an EA supporting the chief marketing officer. And the chief marketing officer comes in and says, Well, my budget just got slashed for the spring. Well, that might make sense based on the seasonality of the business and when the revenue is going to come in. And so you want to think about understanding the top line goals and operating rhythm of your business. And you also need to think about and really become an expert in what is the vertical industry industry that you’re in. Because I like to think of a business like an organism. And that organism is growing and evolving all the time. It’s growing and evolving within its vertical within its industry. And the more that you know about those industries and verticals, the better you’re going to be able to support the growth of that organism.

Jeremy Burrows 33:08
Awesome. Well, let’s, I think that’s a very informational and practical overview of OKRs, and KPIs and MBOs. So I really appreciate that. I’ve learned a lot. And I’m going to have to listen to this over and over again to really soak it in.

Jillian Hufnagel 33:28
If if it makes it any easier for you, I am doing some work right now where I’m offering just kind of internal to the EA chief of staff community, I’m giving a couple webinars on OKRs KPIs and MBOs. And I will continue to do that as much as the community wants.

Jeremy Burrows 33:48
Awesome. Well, well, we’ll be sure to share in the show notes, we’ll be sure to have links and make sure we people know how to get a hold of you or sign up for. Let’s talk just for a couple minutes as we wrap up, will you lead a team of admins. And we’ve talked before about you mentioned an air traffic controller analogy, and how you need to show up as a leader when you have people that report to you so can you kind of talk about that a little bit and your experience leading a team of assistants?

Jillian Hufnagel 34:22
Yeah, I would say you know, the first caveat for me was that I was incredibly excited when I was going to get the opportunity to run a team of admins. And I have been a dotted line leader in the past, you know, managing folks like reception or office manager, Junior AAES. And on occasion EAS. I had never been the leader of an entire team. And that’s a very at least for me, it was it was pretty challenging. It was a major mindset shift. And I also inherited a team that I I didn’t grow and hire myself. But it was a team that I knew because I had been doing some peer coaching and mentorship of them over the years. And so I knew most of the players on the team, what was the hardest thing for me coming in as a leader for them was getting the team out of the mindset that we were a family. And it was really challenging, because there were a lot of emotions attached to the group, as being a family, and I will help you and I will do anything that you need. And there were a lot of blurred lines between work appropriate and personal. And so I, the first thing I did is I really, I kind of sat down with the team. And I started to kind of work through this mantra of we are a business and this business needs support. And so what does it mean to be an EA in our organization, and we actually created kind of our own mission statement. And then what was even more impactful to this team is we created a list of what we are and what we are not. We are not gatekeepers, we are bridge builders, we are not gossipers, we are confidential context providers when appropriate, right. And so really helping them understand how to tip the scale from how they were currently showing up to how they should show up was, for me, it was a really, it was emotionally taxing. And we did have to make some changes on the team too. So the other thing that I think was challenging for me is I went from being the person in charge of all of the executives, to being the person in charge of the people in charge of all of the executives. And that was a shift. And I’m used to having all of the calendars having all of the access, and really being able to kind of manipulate things on my own. I’ve worked in many organizations where there have been no other admins, and I’ve been the EAA and or the chief of staff and I have the power of the calendar power, right, like, you know, and, and there’s something that’s really simplistic in that, because I knew all the players, I knew all the personalities, I knew all the eccentricities, and I had access to the systems to manipulate things. Now I’m leading a team of people who are doing that. And so I went from being an individual contributor to being the leader. And so it was, I really had to figure out how to flex new muscles. And so, having been doing that for about two years, I’ve since stepped away from managing the team day to day. And they now each report into their individual leaders, because I grew them to a point, I shouldn’t say I grew them, I provided a space where they could grow into strategic business partners, by providing them context support, training, guidance, and oftentimes, some really, really emotionally challenging feedback to digest. And now I see myself, as you know, I walk into the air traffic controller center, and you’ve seen pictures of it, you know, where it’s this giant tower on the runway, and you walk in, and there’s like seven screens, and there’s one person at every screen. And I think of each of the EAS in my organization, currently, they’re sitting at their screen, and they’ve got their three or four blips on their radar. Those are their leaders, they have got that on lockdown, they are 100%, organized and functioning. And then I look out across the other six screens, and I step back and I say, I’m seeing an opportunity here, I’m seeing that your three leaders and these two leaders are here. And this is costing the company X amount of money for all of these people to be at this conference. Is this really the right? Allocation of our executive resources? Or should we peel that back and maybe send someone who’s a second or third line leader, give them that opportunity to help groom them into the role, and then free up our executives to focus on some of the more critical aspects of the business? And I don’t do that in a way where I’m telling them how to do it or what to do. I propose opportunities, and I help them see the connections. So you know, it’s really it’s almost an observer role versus a doer role.

Jeremy Burrows 39:34
Interesting. Awesome. Well, Julian, thanks so much for your time. This has all been really helpful. What is something that we can do to support you and where can we find you online?

Jillian Hufnagel 39:48
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I if you want to look up any of my coaching opportunities, you can find me at jillianhufnagel.com It’s JILLIANHUFNAGL.com. I’m on LinkedIn, I think there’s only two Jillian Hufnagel is on there. So feel free to find me on LinkedIn. I’m incredibly passionate about the administrative career path. And I’m working with a variety of stellar EA folks like Jeremy, as well as others in our community that are really focused on elevating the whole community. So if you reach out to me, I promise I will make time for you. And I look forward to learning from others in the community because even though I’ve been doing this for 19 years, I’m a I’m a constant student. I always have things to learn. And I look forward to you know, being able to provide more of my knowledge to the community.

Jeremy Burrows 40:47
It’s great. Thanks so much. And, yeah, I’ll be sure to share your website, and LinkedIn and your bio and all that fun stuff on the show notes. So people can check that out. And yeah, thanks again, Julian, and we will talk soon.

Jillian Hufnagel 41:02
Thank you so much, Jeremy. It’s been a pleasure.

Jeremy Burrows 41:04
Thanks for listening. And thanks again, Jillian for all your wisdom on OKRs MPOs and goal setting for assistance. If you all would like to check out her goal setting template, you can download it for free at leaderassistant.com/goaltemplate and be sure to check out the show notes at leaderassistant.com/37 Leader assistant.com/37 to get in touch with Jillian and find the link to that template as well. Talk to you next time.

Speaker 2 41:53
Please move you on Apple podcasts. Goburrows.com


Download FREE Chapters