New Assistants / Guide for Assistants who are new to the role / Building a brilliant relationship with your Executive

Chapter Four

Building a brilliant relationship with your Executive

Building a fantastic working relationship partnership between an Assistant and their Executive is essential. We share the steps to take to get started building your collaboration.

If you have zero interest in what your Executive does, you will never thrive in the Assistant role. You have to care about them and the business.

Sure, this is easier said than done.

If you work in an industry that isn’t the most glamorous or an area you are not that excited about, you will not be overwhelmed with joy whenever you open a briefing document. But, to thrive in an Assistant role, you have to be interested and knowledgeable about the industry and care about your Executive and what they want to achieve in their role.

Without this, you will survive in the role and not show up as your best self.

To get you started in building a brilliant relationship with your Executive, we are going to cover the following:

Working with a new Executive

Congratulations, you got the job, you’ve worked your notice, you have bought a few outfits, and now you are sitting at your desk, ready to face the challenges of a new role.

Hopefully, you will have been interviewed by your new manager to understand what they are like and what they require from you. This is the first secret to building a brilliant relationship with your Executive

Nevertheless, it can be a daunting prospect working with a total stranger, especially as an Assistant, because we need to build strong and close working relationships with our Executives.

Here are some tips on creating a good rapport when you start working with a new manager and getting you off on the right foot.

The first meeting

Point number one is to have the first meeting with your new manager! During the meeting, cover what is expected of you and how you will work together. Also, discuss the following points:

What are your manager’s priorities for the week, month, and year? What are they focussing on, and what are their objectives? Asking these questions will enable you to quickly pick up on prioritising their emails, travel plans and meetings.

What are their frustrations, and how can you help to relieve them? This is something to consider when building a brilliant relationship with your Executive.

This shows that you are supportive and will be an excellent resource for them to rely on. Also, senior staff members do not often get to talk about what irritates them at work. By asking them this question, it shows that they can turn to you for advice.

How does your manager prefer to communicate?

Is it by email, regular meetings or popping into the office as and when things crop up? Knowing how they like to receive information will help you build a good rapport with them immediately.

How do they organise their calendar, and how do they like to have their meetings set out? It is fundamental for an Assistant to coordinate their manager’s diary effectively, and it should be the primary service provided. Asking this question will mean you get it right early on.

For more tips on organising your one-to-one, check out things to stop doing in your one-to-one.

The right-hand person

Schedule meetings with your manager’s trusted advisors during the first few days in your new role.

Ask them about your new manager and how they like to work; this will help you better understand your manager from another perspective.

Also, any management team member might be your boss one day, so it is good to get them on your side immediately.

New Executive / new you

Comparing your new boss with your old one naturally will happen, especially if you had a good relationship with your previous manager, but try not to mention this to the new one, as it will annoy them.

Instead, talk about best practices and systems you used in your old company that might help your new role. Try to be positive and start afresh with your new manager.

Quick wins

Think about quick wins you can achieve efficiently and impress your boss, whether clearing their long-overdue filing or using your contacts to upgrade them on a flight.

Proactively look for ways to help them be more organised, and make sure you use your Assistant’s strengths to get things moving.

However, a word of warning, be sensitive!

You are in a new environment, but your colleagues have been working there for a while and might think the current systems are fine. In the first few months, be subtle. Remember to consult the individuals concerned before you make any radical changes.


After a few weeks, organise lunch for you and your new Executive.

This will allow you to meet in a relaxed atmosphere and get to know each other better. Basic knowledge of your manager’s home life is beneficial in building a good rapport with them.

I hope you found these tips beneficial.

After a few weeks, you will have settled into your job and will be on your way to establishing a good relationship with your manager.

Questions to Ask a New Executive

Use this guide to work in sync with your Executive from day one.

20 ways to impress your Executive

20 Ways to Impress Your Executive

The worksheet gives you 20 ideas to elevate you in the Assistant role.

Working with an Executive who has never had an Assistant before

Working for a new Executive who has never had an Assistant before can be tricky to find yourself in. You may have been an assistant for years and know the role inside out, but your new Executive doesn’t know what you do and how to work with you.

In this instance, Assistants do have to take the lead.

It can be time-consuming and frustrating, particularly if you are also working with several other Executives or have been given this new Executive without much notice.

But it is worthwhile.

You have to work together, and you will have to prove what you can do. You may also have to push back if they don’t have an excellent perception of assistants and treat you like the office dog’s body.

Here are my top twelve tips for Assistants working with a boss who has never had an Assistant before and is building a brilliant relationship with your Executive.

Delegation: Your new Executive will need to learn to delegate work to you, which will be new to them. A great way to start is by showing them what you do for your other Executives or what you have done in the past. Make a list (or use your job spec if it is updated and relevant) of everything you can do. They may not need you to do everything, but they will understand how much you can help them.

Get the basics up and running immediately: Tell them you need access to their inbox and calendar. This is non-negotiable from your point of view. You can not effectively assist them without being able to manage their schedule and review their emails.

Set boundaries: It is essential that you set boundaries early in your working relationship so that you both know what is expected of you. Clarify the tasks you will complete for your Executive and if you are comfortable with them. Although they are new to having an assistant, you are not new to the role, so you can have some say over what you do.

1-2-1 meetings: Ideally, you want to see your new Executive a few times a day but ensure you have a 1-2-1 meeting with them at least once daily. Schedule this in their diary straight away. The sooner they get used to how closely you will work together, the better. Write the first agenda for this meeting and ensure the first point of conversation is on the structure of your 1-2-1 meetings.

Priorities and objectives: You must quickly understand your Executive’s priorities for the coming months and their objectives for the year. Your Executive will also need to know your priorities, especially if you are an assistant to more than one Executive. You must also share your career development plans with your new Executive to know you take your career seriously.

Over the first few weeks, take the time to work out your new Executive’s ‘work style’.

How do they work and communicate, and what does their routine look like? This will help you be proactive in your new role.

An Executive should be able to trust their Assistant, but this is easier said than done.

It certainly makes the role much more manageable.

So do, from the outset, be enthusiastic, open and honest with your new Executive. The sooner they realise they can trust you with confidential matters and complex tasks, the easier it is to work together.

Please get to know them

Try to find common ground and show friendliness and respect towards your Executive. You don’t have to be friends, but it can be easier to establish a comfortable working relationship when you add a personal touch.

If they are receptive, go out for lunch occasionally and take your catch-up meetings outside to a coffee shop at least once a week. This will allow you to meet in a relaxed atmosphere and get to know each other better. Basic knowledge of your manager’s home life is beneficial in building a good rapport with them.

Learn how your Executive prefers to communicate.

Some Execs prefer frequent face-to-face meetings, while others prefer email or phone check-ins. Your manager might like to get regular updates on a project or want to be informed only if there is a problem. Pay attention to your Executive’s communication style and ask what communication method they prefer if you are unsure.

This way, you will be heard when discussing something important.

Keep your Executive in the loop

Continual dialogue allows you to gauge progress, ensure you are on the right track, and adjust your actions accordingly. You can ask for an additional resource or change any deadlines if needed. Keeping your Executive in the loop will ensure they know your progress, good or bad.

With long-term tasks, such as diary or email management, define exactly how they want you to manage their correspondence and calendar. Again have this conversation immediately – how else do you know if you are meeting their expectations?

Do be patient with your new Executive

We all have to learn new ways of working. Taking on a new assistant can be daunting, especially if your Executive is new to the role and has many other aspects of their job that they need to learn. They may be overwhelmed, and this is where you can help.

How to make your Executive happy!

This is a pretty fundamental question for Assistants. How do you make your Executive happy?

Some of them can be quite grumpy, can’t they?

Aside from a lobotomy, a few other options will ensure your Executive is happy with your performance, and I thought I would share a few with you today when building a brilliant relationship with your Executive.

Under-promise and over-deliver

I recently chaired a panel session at the PA show, and this was one of the answers given by the panellists. It is so true when it comes to working with an Executive. A surefire way of keeping them happy is to under-promise and over-deliver.

Assistants should first and foremost deliver what they have promised, whether meeting a deadline or making a reservation at an exclusive restaurant and then think about any additional work they can do that goes above and beyond their Executive’s expectations.

Assistants can’t over-deliver on every task (that would be crazy), but occasionally, making an effort will keep that smile on even the hardest to please the Executive’s face.

Return every call, reply to every email

When you are slammed with work, replying to every message can be difficult, particularly if you get a gazillion messages from your Executive daily.

To keep your Executive happy, you must, must, must reply to everything. Even if it is a simple email that says you’ve received the message and are working on it. I know this is time-consuming, but keeping your Executive in the loop means they don’t have to chase you for a reply and know you are dealing with everything.

It might be worth keeping a few standard replies in your draft folder if you get the same email requests from your Executive.

Understand when something is urgent

Understanding how your Executive goes about their day, moods, and work style can take time.

Assistants must understand all of this, though. It is the only way to create a great partnership with an Executive. Watch your Executive closely. I wouldn’t suggest stalking, but do get to a point where you know when they are most productive, when they need to be left alone and when you should schedule meetings.

To keep them happy, you must also know everything about their day and what they have coming up that week, month, or year. If they are having an incredibly stressful time, make sure you are around and there to help at any point.

If they have given you a task during these periods, ensure it is completed quickly and with the minimum input from them. If you know they might require your help – be there.

Come with solutions

To make your Executive happy, you mustn’t cause them unnecessary hassle.

As their Executive, you must be the port in the storm. This can be an absolute pain in the arse, especially when you are annoyed and want to vent to your boss.

But! As an Assistant, you can’t be that kind of employee. If you have any issues or problems that you would like your Executive to resolve, you must think of a solution to the problem and take that solution to your Executive.

Never be that employee that gives your Executive more problems than answers. They don’t like those employees!

Managing expectations

To manage your manager’s expectations, you must first know precisely what is expected of you.

The very first step has a job description that covers all of the skills and tasks your boss requires of you. This, unfortunately, is very, very rare! Assistant job descriptions are sketchy at best and often have phrases such as ‘and anything else that might be needed’ or ‘ad hoc duties’.

This will work in your favour if you have a detailed job spec. If not, it is worth asking your manager if you can flesh out a few more specific tasks. Do this tomorrow, don’t wait for your next performance review.

Communication will always be key!

As I’ve always said, communicating with your manager is key to EVERYTHING!

It is essential when it comes to managing expectations. You must have regular and face-to-face contact with your manager. If you do not, it will jeopardise your working relationship because how will you know what your boss is thinking and what is expected of you?

A continual dialogue is so meaningful

Don’t misunderstand that you and your manager are on the same page! It’s hard enough being on the same page with your friends and family, let alone your work colleagues!

The only way to ensure you understand what your Executive wants is to continuously communicate with them and have an open and honest dialogue. Understanding their priorities and aligning your goals with theirs is in your best interest.

What are the specifics?

So your manager has given you a project, and you will need to know the specifics to deliver what is expected. Make sure you ask them the following:

  • What are the objectives of this project?
  • Is it an ongoing project, or is there a deadline for success?
  • If you have a deadline, is it realistic?
  • What are you being judged on here?

Don’t let your manager get away with vague instructions.

This is so important because it is so easy for them to do. You are there to support them, so they may spend less time explaining what they need from you than they would with your colleagues.

Always define the specifics to your manager (either with a follow-up email or during the initial project conversation).

With long-term tasks, such as scheduling or email management, do the same thing, define exactly how they want you to manage their correspondence and calendar.

Again have this conversation immediately if you haven’t already – how else do you know if you are meeting their expectations? If you have been working with your manager for a while, it is always worth having a review meeting to suggest new ways of working and any best practices you have picked up from colleagues or previous roles you’ve been in.

Suggest this to your manager and work in ways to ask precisely what their expectations are!

Evaluate and Re-evaluate!

Keeping your manager in the loop during your working day is always worthwhile. Let them know if you have hit any obstacles, what you are doing to overcome them and any progress you have made. Adjust what is required of you depending on the feedback you receive from your manager.

Don’t always seek approval but do evaluate their expectations based on the everyday conversations that you have.

Invest in your relationship

Again this is something I’ve mentioned in previous posts. It is the case that the better your relationship, the easier it is to manage your boss’s expectations.

Invest time getting to know each other, go out for the occasional coffee, and ask about their life outside of work. Also, appreciate their sense of humour and laugh at the occasional joke (even if you have to force yourself!)

Are the expectations realistic?

This is when having a good relationship with your manager comes into its own because it can be hard to speak up when expectations of you are unrealistic. You must stand up for yourself. It might feel uncomfortable, to begin with, but it will ultimately help.

You don’t want to fail in meeting their expectations because you haven’t been honest with them. If you have concerns about not meeting deadlines, plan an alternative approach and discuss that with your manager. Don’t bury your head in the sand; hope to get through everything.

Also, think about the best time to raise your concerns. Knowing their moods throughout the day will help you pick a good point to discuss any issues with them.

Have a contingency plan

I know this can be difficult with all of the work that most of us have to get through in a day, but I think having a little contingency time in place every day to manage any urgent requests from your boss is worth it.

If you can drop everything and help them immediately, you will exceed their expectations. If that contingency time isn’t used, you have extra time to play with daily. Yay!

Be proactive

Proactivity will always be a central skill for assistants, and again it is imperative when you want to exceed expectations. Do be self-motivated and go the extra mile for your manager.

Be helpful and easy to work with.

One little tip is always to ask your manager if there is anything more you can do for them before you go home at the end of a working day.

It is an excellent way of showing that you think of them when considering going home. If there is anything they need you to do, they have delegated it, and you can deal with the request first thing in the morning. Do you think, ‘what can I do today to make my boss’s job easier?

You want your boss to have high expectations!

Nothing is worse than having a manager who doesn’t expect much from their Assistant. Trust me; convincing them you can do more is like an uphill battle. Having a boss who expects great things from you means you can perform at a higher level and excel.

How to exceed expectations as an Executive Assistant

What does your Executive expect from you?

Knowing this will allow you to EXCEED those expectations, especially when building a brilliant relationship with your Executive.

Most executive assistants and personal assistants will have a good understanding of the technicalities of the role but may struggle to understand what their Executive expects from them.

It is undoubtedly never nice to hear your boss say phrases such as ‘back to the drawing board’ or ‘this is good but not quite what I wanted’.

This is an essential subject for executives and personal assistants because we must have a significant relationship with our manager. Understanding and meeting their expectations is vital to succeeding in the role.

In this video, Nicky will talk through 5 different methods that will help you manage and exceed your Executive’s expectations. They include:

  • What EXACTLY is expected of you?
  • Communication, communication, communication
  • Getting into the specifics of any request
  • Evaluate and invest in your relationships 5. Contingency planning

Staying in the loop with your Executive

The say goes that information is King.

For Assistants, information is everything! Keeping up to date with all the goings-on within your organisation is incredibly crucial for several reasons, especially when building a brilliant relationship with your Executive.

Firstly, you can update your Executive on the high-level stuff, so they don’t have to attend meetings or read every bulletin. You will know about any emerging issues and plan accordingly, and lastly, you will be fully aware of all of that ‘big picture’ stuff which means you can work proactively within your role. A skill that is super important for assistants to master. How do you stay in the loop when so much is happening?

How do you determine what is essential information and what is just office gossip? Here are some handy tips:

Networking is key to staying in the loop. Keep in regular contact with the other people in your department, assistants throughout your organisation and any other key staff members. Maintaining your internal network will help you understand the business and what happens daily.

Make the most of Google Alerts by setting one up with your organisation’s name. Any time your business is in the news, you will read what is happening and what others have said.

Ask lots of questions. This is an obvious but underused skill. Sometimes if you ask how someone is or what they are working on, you will get a whole load of information. Doing this daily with your Executive would be best, but the same applies to other staff members.

Keep in touch with colleagues that have left the business. What you find out about a company you have just left is amazing!

Attend events and functions organised by your business. It is an excellent way to get to know your colleagues less formally and gives you an excuse to have a glass of wine… Or two.

Read all newsletters, bulletins and company emails that pass by your desk. You may be surprised, but most folks don’t read all of the updates released by their internal Comms department… Seriously!

Most career development people would say that if you have received information, you should share this with others to build reciprocal relationships.

This is not the case for Assistants – we have to be a little more cautious because maintaining the confidence of others is crucial. It is okay to share widely known information about the organisation, but best not to tell people anything that a board-level Director may have mentioned.

What is going on with your Executive?

The key to success in this role is an excellent relationship between the Assistant and their boss. That goes without saying, right? Yes, it does… but maintaining a good relationship can be pretty tricky when a gazillion other things are going on.

The day-to-day stuff takes over, and it can be easy to neglect each other. You can do many things to ensure a good working relationship with your boss. However, I will concentrate on a straightforward question you should ask yourself daily – what is going on with my Executive?

They are probably busy, slightly stressed, in and out of meetings all day and didn’t have anything organised for their lunch. You are probably busy, somewhat worried, scheduling more meetings and eating lunch at your desk.

The day flies by, and before you know it, you don’t know where or what your boss is up to. I find it helpful when trying to maintain a good relationship to find five minutes to ask yourself the question – what is going on with them? Once you’ve asked the question, you can look at their schedule – are they on track? Do they have the right paperwork for each meeting? Do they need you to be there, and what can you do to help with any actions that come out of the meeting?

Again you can ask yourself the question and then get up from your chair, walk into their office and ask them if they need anything – even lunch or a cup of tea.

Getting into the habit of asking yourself this a few times a day will ensure that you think about the relationship and what more you can do for your Executive despite being busy with the day-to-day stuff.

When you look like you genuinely care about your Executive, it makes it easier to gain their trust and confidence, which is a whole other area of relationship maintenance for assistance!

Building rapport with a remote Executive

Building rapport with a remote boss is something that many of us will have to contemplate in our roles. Many of you are already working with a remote boss. In the future, it will become more common for you to support an Executive who is constantly on the road or lives and works in a different location. It is so important when building a brilliant relationship with your Executive.

So how can you build rapport?

There needs to be rapport to make an Assistant/Executive partnership successful. You have to work well together; this is hard to create when you see each other daily, but it can be impossible when you don’t live in the same time zone. So how do you build rapport with a remote boss?

I’ve asked some experts who are currently EAs to executives who travel all the time or live in different locations. Here are their tips:

Building rapport with a remote boss

My boss and I speak throughout the day, and we also Instant Message and text. I find texting is excellent, especially when he’s travelling and in different time zones. We have seen each other in person about 6-7 times when I’ve attended meetings with him, but not much more than that! Communication is vital, and when it works, it’s fantastic. However, if there’s a lapse in communication on his part, it makes my job more difficult. I have access to his email, which helps me immensely. There are times he forgets to copy me on essential emails, but I find out what he needs on his email, and I can figure it out from there. Brianne Sirota Kreitman, EA at Juniper Networks

My Executive is based in another country. He works at our office in Switzerland, and I work in our office in The Netherlands. We have daily calls, and about every four weeks, we have a meeting in person, he travels to The Netherlands, and I travel to Switzerland regularly. We have a Google Sheets doc with all our to-do items, and we both update that list daily. We also add questions or remarks so that we can collaborate effectively. My Executive also travels a lot to different time zones, which makes it challenging. Ellen Kosters, Manager Corporate Services Team and Executive Assistant to the CEO at Xeltis

I’m in Houston, TX, and my CEO is based in Raleigh, NC but travels extensively. We rely on email, phone, and text to stay in touch. I am also available after hours as much as I can be. Kelly Neely Olsakovsky, Executive Assistant at Pharm-Olam International

Have some sort of ‘getting a signature’ protocol in place. I use Diligent Boardbooks for most of the Executive signatures on things and DocuSign for others. Joley Oxenreider Hidaka, Executive Assistant at LTC Properties, Inc.

My boss travels about 90% of the time – we talk on the phone regularly (sometimes during the day more than once). We WhatsApp all the time; we also have WhatsApp groups for certain events too. We have a diarised call every other week for non-urgent or activities requiring more than a five-minute call or too long for WhatsApp. I travel with him sometimes – that helps build rapport. I also have a fantastic team of EAs across our EMEA region who can get him to sign documents for me if needed – so building a good rapport with the wider Administrative team is critical. The time difference isn’t an issue for us; if he works in the USA, I tend to start and finish later. If he is going East, then I get up earlier. If it’s European time, then I tend to be around anyway. My smartphone is vital to help us keep in contact with each other – I will say that’s he’s very mindful of not interrupting my evenings or weekends unless necessary. Charlotte Logsdon, Senior Executive Assistant to the President EMEA for Dell EMC

I work remotely 85% of the time, and my Executive travels nationally and internationally as well. We typically text, and I screenshot requests I need to work on later and email them to myself or add them to Asana. We usually meet once a week face to face or via FaceTime. If something is urgent, I am available, and if he is out of the country, I try to be available 24/7. Otherwise, he’ll send me something, and I’ll complete it during my regular work hours. Erin M. Wagner

The Executive I work with travels every week. I’ll see him whenever he has a meeting in my location. We talk every morning and touch base most afternoons. We share to-do lists via Wunderlist (brilliant multi-platform software & we use the free version – I downloaded it to his laptop, iPad, phone etc.) We have monthly 1:1 Skype for business calls, where we talk about performance & any niggles either of us has. We have a coding system in place for his emails (Action / Read / Reports etc.), and lastly, we also use our Gateway SharePoint site and Diligent to share documents (or, I will save it in his email drafts folder.) Jaisha Bruce, Executive Assistant at The Open University.

Running personal errands for your Executive

So I have a question for you!

Do you run personal errands for your Exec? If there is one thing people know about me, I love a good cup of tea. I am English, after all! I plan my tea breaks at work so that I can step away from my desk and, you know, load up on some caffeine while having a small amount of ‘me’ time. This is worth considering when building a brilliant relationship with your Executive.

I worked at a few different places before I moved into an assistant role, and I always made my tea or coffee, and because of this, I never really made drinks for anyone else. Call me selfish or fussy, but that was the way it was. When I became an Assistant, I was very much aware that my job was to do, within reason, what my manager asked me to, and this would include personal errands. This was fine, and I often would get lunch for my manager when she was busy or in meetings.

I remember asking her if she wanted a hot drink because she had been in back-to-back meetings all day she responded that I didn’t have to make her coffee, but she appreciated the gesture. Skip forward a few jobs, and I worked for another manager who always asked me to get drinks for him. If I returned with a drink for myself, he would remark it, and I would have to apologise for not thinking about his hot drink requirements… It was all very ‘Mad Men’!

This may seem like a small insight into my love of tea, but it is a subject that comes up regularly – should you get coffee for your boss? Discussing the issue with other assistants seems to divide opinions; some of us are happy with it, and others are adamant it is not part of their job. So what are the reasons for the differing attitudes – there must be more to it.

Running errands

Getting a drink for the boss can be the tip of the iceberg for some Assistants. I have colleagues that will spend more time running personal errands for their manager than completing work for the company that employs them. I’m not saying this a bad thing because our role is to make our manager’s day easier so that they can concentrate on their job, but where do you draw a line?


Does your manager value your skills? If you answer yes, running personal errands and making coffee will probably not be an issue as you will know you have your boss’ respect. On the other hand, if you are treated as the office dog’s body, no wonder you are frustrated.

Realistically, we must consider this task part of our job. It could be seen as a fundamental part of being an assistant. I am not a big fan of making or getting drinks for other people, but if I can see my manager is rushed off their feet, I will get lunch, run to the dry cleaners, and any other tasks that make them more productive.

If running personal errands and working on tasks is all you are asked to do, refusing to get coffee won’t change your boss’ perception of you or the role of an assistant. If this is the case, it is worth discussing your workload and the quality of the work with your manager. If you can demonstrate your abilities, they may be less likely to ask you to do errands.

Should you lie to your boss?

It is fair to say that we often lie to our managers. For example, if they receive a sales call, I will often say they are in a meeting rather than say they have no interest in anything you sell and never will do, which is true! All of these activities probably take place three or four times a day, seem to be part of our role, and I would imagine we don’t even think to ourselves that we are lying to someone. Our bosses are not asking us to lie for them, but I don’t think they would discourage it either, and I suppose these little white lies are not harming anyone. But what happens when your boss asks you to lie to them or do something you feel uncomfortable with? How should you handle it, and when should you say no?

I think these are tough questions, and thankfully I have never been put in a situation where I have had to say no to one of my directors, but here are a few tips I’ve learnt over the years that I would call upon were asked to lie.

Think before you answer

Depending on how the request is delivered, do not reply straight away. If it is face-to-face, write the request down but do not commit. Ask yourself, what are they asking you, and is it unreasonable? If so, what is making you feel uncomfortable specifically? Having this clear before speaking to your manager will help you remain clear and to the point. It may also give them time to rethink what they have asked you in the first place.

Prepare what you are going to say

Now that you have decided, you won’t lie to your manager or do what they have asked to prepare your answers. Be honest with them. If you feel uncomfortable, then say so and give a reason. The last thing you want to do is lie about why you don’t want to lie! I don’t think your manager will appreciate your honesty, but they will probably respect you. I find it helpful to rehearse the conversation in your mind and out loud (in private!). I also would try to anticipate the questions your manager will ask and think of suitable responses.

Choose the right time and location

You are about to say no to your boss. They probably will not be happy with you, so whatever you say, make sure it is private and convenient for them. If they are not a morning person, wait until the afternoon. Why make the discussion harder for yourself than it needs to be? It is important to consider this when building a brilliant relationship with your Executive.

Give and take

Depending on what they have asked you to lie about, you can offer an alternative approach or a compromise but don’t jeopardise your morals if you feel strongly about the situation. If there is some middle road that will mean you can still do part of what your manager is requesting, then at least attempt to do that. Hopefully, they will understand you are trying to help despite your reservations.

Remember, if you are being asked to do something that is not in the company’s best interest or illegal, then say no immediately. I would also suggest reporting the occurrence to either HR or a senior manager.

Unleashing your inner strategic business partner is the ultimate goal for Executive Assistants today.

If you want to build a brilliant and lasting relationship with your Executive, creating this sense of partnership and alliance is key. By embracing the elements outlined in our guide – from understanding their goals, being transparent and taking ownership – any Assistant can get started on their journey. Although crafting an effective partnership between your Executive and yourself may take time and effort, it will help accelerate your professional growth as well as your Executives career. So take action to unlock your potential and enrol on our online Strategic Business Partner Course. Let’s start building the Assistant/Executive relationship today!


Next chapter:

Working with multiple Executives
Chapter Five