Being the ‘new person’ at work whether it be due to a change of role in the same office or to take your next step up the career ladder in a totally new company, this can be a very difficult and confusing experience for anyone with a ‘how long is a piece of string’ adjustment period in tow. The thought of going from knowing everything and everyone, running your working day like clockwork and knowing your boss so well you finish their sentences to the complete unknown, is one of the most daunting experiences that many of us will encounter. It is said that changing job is one of the three most stressful experiences you will go through next to getting divorced and buying/moving house. Putting everything into perspective when you consider that statistic, why would any of us opt to put ourselves through it and when we do, how should we best approach it?
I am currently in the midst of week three at a new company and so I feel this is the perfect time and hopefully the only time in the next 4-5 years that I could write about this subject accurately enough. I am what is considered a career PA and have gone from working at the very bottom of the admin scale and have climbed up through the ranks to now be in a position where I assist one of the most influential ladies in UK property. It has taken a lot of hard work and several years of pushing myself in directions and through experiences that at times were uncomfortable however I have been able to achieve more than I anticipated at 25 and I’m exceptionally proud to say I belong to one of the most diverse industries in the world.
You would think that after my years of experience this would lend itself to an easy and stress free change. Well my friends, that is totally wrong. For those of you who are new to the PA profession and or are transitioning from PA role to PA role, I would like to start by saying a HUGE congratulations on achieving your next big move and that the nerves and everything else going through your head after the ‘’congrats you got the job!’’ call from your recruitment agent are completely natural and you are definitely not alone!
So the first day comes and you’re ready and raring to make an awesome first impression with your new colleagues and boss. You’re dressed to the nines (first impressions count as Mum always said) and you have your game face on, ready to rock the world of administration and prove yourself indispensable from day one. You get in the front door, you say hi to everyone and then business resumes and everyone gets their head down for a decent day of hard graft. Beware, day one and two of your handover (no handover is a red flag moment, don’t be afraid to confirm your handover period before you start) will be more or less what I call a vanilla day, unassuming and uneventful but relevant all the same. Keep that in mind. So many people I meet presume that they are disliked when they begin a new job as they do not immediately strike up friendships with their colleagues or they are under the impression that as their new boss requests something of their predecessor they feel that they are being shunned by someone who does not like the fact that their current PA is leaving and in turn naturally dislikes them. Ladies and gents, you could not be further from the truth. Change is a big deal for everyone and comes with a huge adjustment period especially when it comes to such a central position in the office. At the same time, everyone still has a job to do and so relax, your handover should be your main priority at this current moment and building that bond with your boss will happen over time. Likewise with your colleagues. Listen, take notes on EVERYTHING and observe your way through the next couple of days learning how the bones of your role work.
Now as humans, it is natural for us all to want to put our own stamp on things – houses, jobs, personal projects and this is what makes us individuals however trying to implement a new reporting procedure in week two is something I would try to avoid, yes I speak from experience. Wanting to impress your boss and colleagues is another natural new job feeling however beware not to try and run before you walk. I would 100% expect to identify areas throughout your handover period which you feel that you could improve for either the benefit of yourself and or others and this is not to say that what is currently in place is wrong, you may just have a different approach or a tried and tested way in which something could work in a way which you prefer. As a rule, always have a notepad and pen with you, even when sashaying your way through the office – you never know what you may come across! Through your handover and for the first month or so, keep a note of areas which you feel could do with a re-jig and re visit this list once you have fully settled in or once it is most appropriate to visit the conversation with the relevant people. Until you know what turns each cog in the office, keep your wits about you and concentrate on the information provided in your handover pack and from the conversations with your boss. In time you will find that not only your colleague relationships blossom from not rocking their world in a way they dislike too quickly but that your ideas may evolve further into something that is golden ticket worthy and can not only benefit yourself but perhaps prove of much larger commercial value to the office and company. Brownie points over load.
One of the most daunting things on your to do list if you’re new to the job of being a PA is sitting down with your boss and having one on one time. Do not be under any impression that you are to go armed with an arsenal of ideas of how to make their lives easier or more efficient straight away, you’re new for goodness sake! Your one on one time is when you have an uninterrupted meeting with your boss at least once a week and should be a relaxed and enjoyable catch up. You will determine and agree upon how exactly things will go for the following five working days and if you are required to assist in ways which you may not have had to before, it will be outlined in this meeting. This is your golden time and is crucial to being able to do your job to the best of your ability. Once you have a few months experience under your belt don’t be afraid to discuss opportunities you may want to explore in these meetings either, it’s as much your time as it is your boss so make sure you use it wisely! You will come to find that the more you have these meetings the better the bond with your boss will become, over night success is guaranteed not to happen so don’t assume you’re doing anything wrong if you don’t get the warmest of responses to everything you discuss, slow and steady wins the race.
So at some point you’re going to become a lone ranger after you have successfully completed your handover (hooray!). The person who has been your right hand man for your first couple of weeks has moved on to greener pastures and its your job to man the helm. Is that too many cliches? DO NOT PANIC. Again, guilty as charged. You are going to feel overwhelmed. You are going to feel lost at times. You are fine! For those of you who have a particularly busy boss who places a huge amount of onus on their PA in order to conduct business effectively, you may need to take a few deep breaths on occasion and remember that just because you have had a handover does not meet you should already know everything. Use the experience you have to query things in the necessary places and never be under the impression that there is such a thing as asking too many questions, again…you are brand new and a huge part of being a PA is learning as you go and working to meet the expectations of yourself and your boss.
The last thing to remember is that you are AMAZING, you got the job now kick some ass!
Lot’s of love,