I was recently asked what I thought was the most critical aspect of being an executive assistant, having scoured my brain for a smart answer I merely said ‘maintaining a good relationship with your manager’. I’m still not 100% sure if it is the most essential part of being an EA but having thought about it keeping and maintaining a good relationship with your manager makes the life of an EA a lot easier.
As PAs /EAs we spend a vast amount of time with our managers, if the relationship turns sour it is almost impossible for us to do our jobs effectively and can have a devastating effect on the work that we do. So how do we ensure this does not happen? Here are some tips on maintaining a good relationship with your manager.
Respect and trust
As with any relationship, the one you have with your manager should be built on respect and trust. This is a two-way street, but for an assistant, it is vital and necessary for your manager to trust you explicitly. So to guarantee their confidence meet deadlines, deliver work when you say you are going to, keep confidential matters top secret and don’t be seen as the office gossip.
They are human too
Talking to your manager about the things you do outside of the office may seem a bit daunting or even a complete waste of time, but I think it helps maintain good rapport. Always ask them how their evening/weekend was and look genuinely interested when they answer, you may find that you have things in common and even if they do not reciprocate the question you have gained at least a small insight into how their mood will be that day. In addition, if you focus on the positive traits of your manager, it will help you understand what motivates them to succeed.
Regularly and face to face! Again this is a two-way thing and should be consistent throughout the time you work with your manager. Naturally set up regular meetings to discuss both workloads and diaries but also be there for them when they look like they need to talk about something. Check in with them throughout the day, even if it is to say where you are going. If you communicate with them effectively, you won’t be blindsided with unexpected problems.
Have a sense of humour
One of the most effective ways I have found to manage my relationships is not to take them too seriously. This may sound controversial but let me explain. I’m not talking about the work itself, this is obviously important and should be treated as such, but the relationship itself can be handled with a lighter touch. If you appear to be happy and can have a good time at work, it enhances the relationships you have with colleagues, including your manager. Let them in on the joke once and in a while and include them in the conversation.
Are you a new Assistant?
Our eBook, ‘Starting out as a New Assistant‘, is designed to help you navigate the first few months of your new role. Here you will find everything you need for the initial first meeting with your Executive. You will also find articles on how to navigate the tricky world of working with the Executive Team, building rapport with your new Executive and advice on how you can work effectively with a boss who has never had an Assistant before.