Mind Your Manners: You Are a Direct Extension of Your Boss
— May 30, 2013 —
Administrative professionals are direct extensions of the people they support. Read on to learn what to do (and not do!) in order to best support your executive.
Relaying the Message
Executives, generally, don’t hesitate in telling people exactly how they feel… through you. “Tell so-and-so that” followed by some request or comment. It’s your job as an executive assistant to re-word the verbiage and get your boss’s message across professionally. You are an extension of your boss and it’s imperative that this fact remain at the forefront of your every move.
Less is More
As a rule of thumb, answer outside questions with just enough information to answer the question, especially when the queries relate to your boss. If your boss steps out of the office, or decides they do not want to be disturbed while they are in their office, external requests for their time should be addressed by simply stating, “He/she is unavailable at the moment” and followed up with, “may I take a message or help you?” Long-winded answers about his/her lunch meeting with such-and-such client, or the school event s/he is attending for his/her youngest child are not necessary. People will always fill in the blanks with their own inferences, no matter how thorough or vague you are, so it’s best to stick to bare minimum facts unless otherwise instructed.
Be a Conscientious Concierge
It’s not always easy to determine a good location for a client meeting when all you have to work off of is “book a table at a nice place for Thursday around 7.” If you book a table somewhere too expensive, you may give the impression that your employer is a big spender. If you pick a place and the meal isn’t great, your employer could be seen as having little or no taste. The accommodations you make are, to your boss, indicative of your judgment. To a client, the accommodations you make are accommodations your boss requested.
On a More Personal Note…
Regardless of your official title, as administrators, personal work is inevitable. My rule of thumb is this: be mindful of the mindless. You’re given the task of purchasing a gift for someone, so you go and you conquer. The item, purchased, sits quietly in a branded bag with a company logo or slogan plastered onto the side of it. You stroll back into the office and place the bag and its contents on your desk. All-aboard the assumption train! You must be paid very well to be able to afford a purchase like that. Your boss can do better than shopping at that store. That gift must be for his/her mother based on where it’s from. When running personal errands for your employer, whenever possible, ask for an unmarked bag and place the branded bag inside. Store purchases in a closed filing cabinet or some other non-visible place until his/her return. Return company or personal credit cards to him/her behind closed doors. Personal errands are just that, personal, and the trust given to you to perform those tasks should not be taken lightly.
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