You and your manager working as team

The PA and the manager spend a great deal of time together

They have the same objectives and carry out different tasks to achieve those objectives. Communication is vital; it would be impossible to work together successfully without excellent communication.

Your team (you and your manager) should be speaking regularly during the day but, most importantly, time should be set aside, probably once a day, to sit down together and agree on objectives for the day, week and month (this can always be done on the ‘phone if necessary). I remember my MD telling me “you are the most important person I speak to”. Very flattering, but actually quite true. I organised his life.

How can you make decisions on your manager’s behalf and be proactive if you don’t know what’s important to him/her at that time? Managers who are secretive are harming their own effectiveness as well as yours.

These meetings should not be one way; you waiting for your manager to tell you what to do. It should be two way communication. Before this session you should have prepared what you need to relay to your manager and anticipated any questions he/she may have for you.

As issues arise, always attempt to offer viable solutions rather than problems; you are there to assist, not give your manager more worries.

 Many PAs who tell me they have offered to do more for their manager, complain that he/she has not responded and they feel a lack of trust. In fact, the manager may very much want the PA to take on more responsibility, they are just not sure what they could do. Give your manager suggestions of how you could be more proactive; he/she will probably be delighted.

Networking internally and externally is vital. Take every opportunity to attend meetings and training courses to expand your knowledge and skills and enhance your business acumen. Read books and magazines, such as Executive Support,  tailored for PAs’ requirements, and attend their LIVE events (held around the world and online). Join groups on social media to share good practice with other PAs and, even better, join organisations such as IMA or local PA networks around the world.

Be aware of your manager’s working style and how he/she likes to receive information. Listen and observe to really understand your manager’s needs. Explain things clearly and simply; many busy managers do not have time for detail. The key word on all my PA courses is “preparation”. An effective PA always puts some thought into situations before acting – from routine telephone calls and emails, to attending meetings, offering proposals and issues of conflict. An effective PA offers his/her views whilst always having considered the views of the other person. An effective PA is priceless!