From the desk of my assistant…
I promise, next week we’ll get back to the knowledge only Doug can share with you, but today I want to tell you about the things your own assistant might not be able to verbalize to you. Ready?
No matter how good your relationship is with your assistant, he or she might have one or two (or 5) things they want you to know.
Or maybe even need you to know, but they are too afraid to say anything to you. Instead, they may just fume silently or take it out on someone else or even complain to a co-worker about it.
- Quit changing your mind, being wishy-washy or inconsistent! Usually, your best assistant is a Type A personality. If you want to delve more into his or her personality, Doug can give you some great feedback if you go here. If your assistant is anything like me, it drives us crazy when you constantly change your mind. For example, if you tell me to reach out to a client to check on him, I’m a get-er-done person, so I’m going to do it immediately. If you follow up your email with another email saying “Nevermind, I’ll email him myself,” it’s probably too late! That’s right, we’re so good at our jobs, we’ve already done it, and you might make us both look bad if you then take it upon yourself to respond. Also, if you say, “We need to hire someone this week,” we take it as a sure thing, flying into a blur of activity trying to get this accomplished, so if you come back two weeks later saying, “Well, we don’t want to rush into anything,” we get beyond frustrated. So make up your mind, then tell us, then stick to it. I realize there are exceptions to this since things change, but an assistant will constantly be second-guessing herself if you do it too often.
- Don’t take your frustrations out on us! We’re not your spouse–so don’t treat us like one. If you are frustrated, taking it out on us will generally make us wonder what we did wrong, even if it wasn’t our fault at all. We are very tough on ourselves, and we beat ourselves up enough when something happens that is our fault, so if you pounce on us because we’re the closest target, we get hurt and we also spend valuable time (time you are paying us for) trying to figure out where we went wrong.
- Give me a little bit of time, for crying out loud! If you frontload your time with us, meaning you invest a lot of time at the beginning, we will have to ask you less and less what you want us to do. If you take five minutes to give us some feedback or a rundown of the things you want us to focus on, or even just tell us what the number one priority is, we will usually impress you with what we can accomplish. But if you don’t respond to our emails, requests, calls, texts or however you usually communicate best, we are the type of personality that is afraid to make a mistake, so instead of plowing ahead, we might be frozen in fear of making the wrong move. A little bit of time and direction will keep things running smoothly for you, which lets you do what you do best. (Whatever that is)
- Trust me! Unless I am a new hire, it’s likely I’ve proven myself capable of writing an email or blog post or whatever it is you’ve hired me to do most often, so let me do it. Quit micromanaging me and let me do my job. It will make things easier for you, and you will get more accomplished if you leave it to me to get things done when you assign them to me. Of course, if I’ve proven myself to be unreliable, you might have made a hiring mistake. To find out if you’ve got the right people in the right seats on your business bus, click here.
- Tell me thank you! I’m not even talking about flowers on Administrative Assistant’s Day, although that’s fine and dandy. I’m talking just day-to-day, let me know how I’m doing. Tell me thank you for booking that flight. Sure, it’s my job, but if I forgot to do it, you’d be in a world of hurt, so being reliable is a good thing, and it is important to acknowledge that. Personally, I’ve never had this problem with Doug, because he is very appreciative, but in the past, only hearing from the boss when they have something bad to say is a real good way to have assistants on the lookout for a new job. And don’t take advantage of me. If I’m your Personal Assistant, running out to get your dry-cleaning might be okay, but an Admin. Assistant generally won’t handle that type of personal stuff. (Unless you make it worth her while with bonuses and raises, of course) Just because you know I will respond to your request on a Saturday doesn’t mean you should get in the habit of asking me to do things on my weekend. I love my job, and I want to make your job easier. Don’t take advantage of that by making me feel like I can never get away from my job.
If you take these five things into consideration, you might realize there is room for improvement. Usually there is, and usually, we are too afraid to bring it up, because we like getting regular paychecks, thank you very much.
In a world full of people constantly on the lookout for the greener pasture, make sure you are taking care of your assistant and he or she will reward you with loyalty. When that job that pays double what she makes for you crosses her path, she might think twice–“Will that boss be as good as the one I have now, and if he’s not, is the increase in pay worth the price of working for a new boss who might not treat me like gold?”
Who is Doug? Doug Kisgen is an author, entrepreneur and personality expert. His primary work? Raising his five kids with his wife of 20+ years in the hill country of Texas.
For ways to put these ideas into practice, check out Doug’s book, Rethink Happy: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Toward Authentic Joy, available now as an e-book or in paperback!