The Biggest (and Toughest) Role of an Assistant
— Dec 19, 2014 —
Your boss is under a tremendous amount of pressure. Where he or she lies on the corporate hierarchy determines just how much pressure he/she is under. As an administrative professional, one of the biggest and hardest parts of your job is keeping your boss calm and dispelling their anxiety.
First things first. It’s not personal. Do not take your boss’s micromanaging behavior as a reflection upon how well you do your job. Your boss simply wants to be sure his/her bosses know he/she is doing a good job. Second, accept that managing their stress level is, in part, your responsibility. People who have little on their professional plates or who have easy breezy days have no need for an assistant of any kind. Why would they? Third, learn what helps to ground your boss.
Prepare a “state of the moment” and “state of the project” speech.
A good way to attack your boss’s anxiety at the source is to equip him/her with all of the ammunition necessary to understand how far along a project is. For example, if he/she asks you about the status of a contract you are supposed to send out to a client, let him/her know what you are doing right now, and what that ultimately means for him. For example, “I just finished proofing it and sent it to Client X’s assistant for his signature. Once she gets it back to me, I’ll make copies, file them, and put a copy on your desk.”
Enjoy casual conversation
Just because your boss is anxious doesn’t mean he/she is a micro-manager. Your boss’s anxiety could stem from a multitude of places. In any case, it’s your job to help dispel it. Finding common ground that isn’t work-related could not only help ease some of their anxiety, but it also helps build your relationship and establish trust. When your boss trusts you (and likes you as a person), it becomes easier for them to feel at ease around you, at ease with the work they give you, and at ease knowing that you will get the job done.
If you find you are failing at easing your boss’s stress levels, ask your boss, “Is there anything I can do that would help take some things off your plate?” Even if the answer is a resounding “no,” the simple fact that you asked means more to them than you could ever know.
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