This informal CPD article How does a Manager benefit from an excellent working relationship with their Assistant? was provided by Baker Thompson Associates, established over 20 years ago and recognised as a pioneer of PA training.
The Manager and the Assistant
The Manager and the Assistant do the same job, they have the same objectives; they simply carry out different tasks to achieve those objectives. This is one of the principal concepts I share with my course attendees. An Assistant works WITH their Manager FOR the success of the organisation.
Many Managers are impeding their own progress and effectiveness by not understanding or appreciating how to work with their Assistant. A Manager is paid an amount based on their skills and experience; that amount is usually quite high. They therefore should not be spending time doing things that their Assistant is paid to do, and that the Assistant is probably better qualified to do as well. They are, theoretically, embezzling their organisation.
Managers should not be arranging meetings, dealing with emails until they have been “triaged”, booking travel, searching for files, etc. If anyone asked my MD if he was free for a meeting, he would reply: “Ask Heather; she sorts that for me”.
Speak regularly every day
An Assistant should know everything their Manager knows to enable them to work proactively. The Manager and the Assistant should speak regularly every day, including a catch up meeting, probably each morning. At that meeting they should agree what their objectives are for the day, week or month.
Of course, this involves a huge amount of trust, but that can only be achieved by letting go in the first place and by regular communication. An Assistant will not make mistakes on purpose, this only happens if they do not have the full facts and business acumen; they need help to achieve this.
A true Leader will share their views
Managers should include their Assistant in team meetings, let their Assistant have total access to their emails, enable their Assistant to speak knowledgeably and professionally on their behalf. A true Leader will share their views, preferences and, most importantly, objectives with their Assistant; they will empower their Assistants.
All this enables the Assistant to strategically and effectively support the Manager, which is fulfilling and satisfying for the Assistant, gives the Manager more time to focus on their priorities and, of course, leads to the success of the organisation. It also reflects positively as the Manager will be seen as a true Leader.
You don’t have to be a Manager to be a Leader, and many Managers are, sadly, not Leaders.
A true Leader will inspire their Assistant to offer them potential, viable solutions rather than problems, they will encourage their Assistant to network internally and externally so they can improve their business acumen and build relationships which, in the long term, will enhance their career prospects and very positively impact on the Manager’s performance too.
Managers should encourage an Assistant's training
Most importantly, Managers should encourage and support an Assistant’s opportunities for training. Not only is this beneficial and motivating for the Assistant, but it also means they give much enhanced support, which, in turns, leads to the Manager’s improved performance and, consequently, success and the success of the organisation.
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