For assistants the most important thing to get right is the relationship with your Executive. The reasons for this are twofold. Firstly, it is your job to make your Executive as successful in their job as possible and to do this you will need to work with them very closely, it is much easier if you have a good relationship. Secondly, and this is particularly true if you are a 1-2-1 assistant, the only person that can appraise, reward or promote you is your Executive. So all in all it makes it life much easier if you do have a good working relationship with your boss. If you do think you could improve the relationship with your boss here are a few tips.
How was your weekend?
I’ve said this many times before but I do think that you should invest time in getting to know your boss. To do this you should find out what their life is like outside of work and try to appreciate their sense of humour (even if you have to force yourself!)
What do they need to focus on?
You should ask them this question each week. Find out what their issues are or if they have a certain problem to solve and then try to help. This could simply be clearing their schedule so that they can concentrate on the issue at hand or actually helping them directly with the problem. Always ask your boss what you can do to help.
Make sure they know you are on their side
Executives have so much going on that quite often they can drop the ball on certain things. This is where you come in. One of the main aspects of the role is to make your boss look good. So to do this, ensure you know the tasks they tend to neglect and make sure you do them. For example, if they are always late make sure you build contingency time in their schedule so that they can get to their meetings on time. If they are constantly losing things make sure you keep a copy of all of their paperwork. Once you are making them look good the next step is to let them know you are on their side. It can be easy for them to neglect you so make sure they are aware of how much you are doing for them. A simple way to do this is to feedback all of the work you do at each face to face meeting you have.
What do they value in your colleagues?
It is well worth looking at how your Executive interacts with other employees. Who do they like, interact with and respond well to? What characteristics and habits do these people have? Can you learn from them or follow some of their habits to ingratiate yourself with your manager?
Communication – when and how
I’ve always said that assistants must communicate regularly with their Executive and this has to be face to face. Assistants also have to know when best to communicate with their manager and which communication channels to use. Assistants are not mind readers and the best way to get answers to these questions is to actually ask the manager.