A chance encounter leads Lucy Brazier to an ‘aha moment’ about the next generation of managers and administrative job titles
I’m writing this on a flight to India, and I have just had such an interesting conversation with a tech executive sitting next to me. It was a major ‘aha moment’ about the next generation of managers.
He asked me what I did and in response to my explanation, he told me that his business had been trying to get him to get an Assistant for ages, but he didn’t feel comfortable.
Cue me talking about why the business employs Assistants to give executives back their time and all the other reasons why he needed one.
But his reticence was nothing to do with feeling he could do it all himself or wanting to be in control. Rather, he felt it was demeaning to ask someone else to do things for him. He didn’t feel comfortable with the concept of having someone looking after him, and he strongly disliked the implication of someone being in a service role that ultimately was serving him.
He also had a problem with what the usual administrative job titles stood for.
However, when I told him that Google call their Assistants ‘Administrative Business Partners’, he loved that. He got it right away. And that was a concept he was happy to accept and go back and have a conversation about! He wanted the relationship to be equal.
Assistants tell me all the time that the new generation of management would rather do things for themselves and that it’s a struggle to do their job properly when the manager won’t delegate. They assume it’s an issue of trust or that their manager feels they are tech-savvy enough to not have to delegate tasks.
Maybe we’re looking at it all wrong and it’s not a matter of trust at all. Maybe it’s an issue of respect and the way our attitudes have changed to how we treat each other as human beings.
If this is the case, it bodes well for the future of work and collaboration.
Could it be as simple as changing the terminology to change the perception?