Does Teamwork Truly Exist Between Boss & PA?

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The value of teamwork, is it really understood by Executives within the EA/PA – Exec relationship? Do they really see the role as a key partnership or will administrative professionals around the world always be fighting to be seen and heard for the impact they can make only IF they are given the opportunity to do so?

The reality? The power to make change belongs in the hands of administrative professionals in every role, in every business, in every country. The mindset of ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’ is a crucial adaptation that many will need to make as the reality is, if you haven’t guessed it already, change will not be something that your Exec will do for you.

Reprogramming the dynamic of the relationship between Executive and assistant is key for any form of career growth. It will enable you to leverage the skills and passions you have to make even more of a difference in your role and to the business. If you don’t believe you are working to your true potential due to limitations set by your boss it’s your fundamental right to make that known and for them to act in true partnership to help you develop in those areas.

If this is resonating with you, if you work with an Exec only utilising 50% of your skillset because they don’t understand why you would do anything other than diary management and travel organisation as ‘their PA’, here are some ways you can shift their ability to view you as not ‘just a PA’, but as a powerful and talented individual who can make a significant impact outside of your job description.

Stop taking no for an answer, you’re better than that.

Teamwork is exactly that…TEAMwork. You couldn’t do your job without your Exec and they certainly could not do their job without you. Recognise this power and take control of it unapologetically. During my mentoring sessions with our A-Lister members on any topic relating to that person wanting something from their boss/company i.e. a pay rise, an extension of their responsibilities or even a change in their responsibilities relative to what they are great at and what they are not so great at (a controversial opinion for most to get their head around), any immediate dismissal should always be countered with – ‘so what do you need or see from me to make this happen?’.

Scenario 1

You want your companies support to attend a conference or to sign up to a professional development platform such as The Assistant Room membership. Your boss says no.

Your immediate reaction: Don’t take no for an answer. Instead ask – what do you need or to see from me to make this happen?

Scenario 2

You want a payrise to reflect the fact that your job has extended beyond your job description. Your boss says no.

Your immediate reaction: Don’t take no for an answer. Instead ask – what do you need or to see from me to make this happen?

Scenario 3

You want to be involved in areas of the business that you’re passionate about or have a specific skill set to make successful i.e. you’re a people person and would like to attend client networking events. Your boss says no.

Your immediate reaction: Don’t take no for an answer. Instead ask – what do you need or to see from me to make this happen?

Stop taking no for an immediate answer. A core skill to be an exceptionally great administrative professional includes negotiation and influence. If you truly believe that your efforts should be rewarded or that you can bring something new to the table then back yourself in the spirit of true teamwork.

Revisit your objectives and think about what will develop your professional skillset

A mindset change is not only necessary for your Exec but you too. It’s absolutely crucial to reset your opinion to make yourself an equal priority to ensure you are able to work to the best of your ability. 9 times out of 10 that means identifying how to stay engaged with your role.

Far too many administrative professionals approach their objective setting as improving their Executives working life with objectives/goal examples including:

  1. Your boss attending X number of client meetings in the next 12 months
  2. Giving your boss a better work/life balance
  3. Planning for a minimum of X amount of ‘free time’ a month to focus on emails/report writing

Stop. Revisit your objectives and think about your professional development. If you are stuck here not being interested in professional development or left wondering why you should be bothered on professional development then listen to The Assistant Room podcast to understand how the most successful administrative professionals have grown and built careers that you can aspire to achieve.

Setting the correct objectives will allow your boss to see the progression and or impact that you make through tangible results that they understand. Executing this element of your role correctly should lead you to have a better case when asking for a pay rise or promotion – if you succeed in your objectives then a reward should naturally follow.

Referring back to the importance of professional development for every PA/EA, invest in a course to help you focus your attention on leading your performance review with confidence and setting meaningful objectives. This is the title of one of our most popular masterclasses that all our Rising Star and A-Lister members have access to right now in The Assistant Room membership. In that class you will learn –

  • The reasons why Execs and assistants struggle with the performance review process and the main issues that effect 75% of participants.
  • Your purpose throughout the performance review conversation vs the purpose of your Exec.
  • Planning for your performance review using the Pareto principle.
  • How to create your ‘PR pack’ and identify the key documents required to coordinate a strategic plan for your performance review meeting.
  • How to strategically identify your strengths and assess your achievements vs challenges, highlight your impact and value added throughout the year to your department and your boss.
  • What your performance review agenda should look like.
  • How to set goals and objectives and how to present them to your Exec.
  • How to incorporate high levels of emotional intelligence and interpersonal effectiveness throughout the conversation.
  • How to set your professional standard for the next 12 months and the strategies you can put in place to keep you on track and accountable to achieving your goals and objectives.

The moral of the story is that to show up as a team on the same level as your boss you need to invest in your continuous progression if not just for this job but for your future jobs too.

Be strategically proactive

The best way to demonstrate how you view your working relationship with your Exec as a partnership? Immerse yourself in their world. As an assistant you are over exposed to the way that the business runs knowing everything and everyone in ways that only you understand.

Shift you focus to be more strategically proactive and start being in places where you can be seen and heard. The most successful PA/boss relationships are built off of the curiosity of context – ask to see that board report and the last 3. Ask to have a seat in meetings that relate to projects your boss has a part in. Understand if your current role reflects the needs of your boss at that time – have priorities changed and therefore does your area of concentration need to change to? If you want to have a partnership built on teamwork but don’t yet have one, build one.