In secretarial recruitment, as in any other area, one common fault by those not experienced in the skill is to simply choose a person like themselves. It is called “mirror hiring” and leads to a duplication of certain strengths and the doubling of many weaknesses!
We will assume that if you are an EA or PA to an experienced leader, this mistake will not have been made! The point is, however, still relevant. There’s an old biblical saying: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Many people swear by this noble sentiment. Unfortunately, it’s completely wrong!
To achieve better results, or a more productive relationship, consider this rewording: “Do unto others as they would like to be done unto”. Working on their wavelength is ultimately more useful than trying to convert them to yours. If you can match the way they like to operate, speak at a pace and in a manner which they like, then it is easier to have them appreciate and value your skills and activities.
Your best chance of completing the jigsaw
In terms of activities, consider your boss as half of a jigsaw. Your role is to add the missing pieces, not simply duplicate those already in place. Here are two key areas to help you achieve this; let’s consider them in the situation of you being asked to complete a task you have never undertaken before.
Understand the intent and context
To complete the task; you need to understand why it is being completed and what the end result should be (the intent). If you also know how this result fits in with the overall situation (the context), then you have a more complete understanding of what you are being asked to accomplish.
Using four simple questions
Using the following four questions, if and as necessary, when being given a task to accomplish gives you a greater chance of delivering what’s required:
• What precisely do you want?
• How specifically do you wish it to be delivered?
• When exactly do you require this?
• Anything else I should know to deliver what you need?
Of course, you can rephrase them to your own words, and you won’t need each question on every occasion (although the last one is always useful). Equally, you might need to probe with further questions in some areas. Incidentally, if the person you are dealing with isn’t initially keen on this behaviour, intent and context can ride to the rescue: “I want to make sure I deliver just what you want (context). These questions will help me ensure that I do (intent) and make sure there’s no problem or annoying delays later on (context).”
The title of this article was deliberately phrased: “How To Get The Best Out Of Your Boss”. Many people might think it should be the other way round. However, if as a Personal or Executive Assistant you take the responsibility suggested in the title, you can create both-win situations – and, perhaps, less hassle!
Till next time,