We asked you ‘What is the best piece of advice you could give a boss?

We asked you ‘What is the best piece of advice you could give a boss about how to work effectively with their assistant?’

Tammy Sanders, Greater Pittsburg, USA
Talk to them! How can someone be efficient and support you effectively if they have no idea what’s going on?

Nadine Kwazi, Tanzania
If the boss always complains whenever tasks have not been done the way he/she wants them to be done and doesn’t give any positive feedback when tasks are well done, it gives the impression that the Assistant is not performing well.

Tammi Hailey, Houston, Texas, USA
Never treat their assistant as if she is “only an admin” and can be replaced. An assistant is the right hand of a boss and deserves to be respected and appreciated for all of the things she/he does to make things easier for them.

Wilhelmina Adriana Swiegers, Cape Town, South Africa
Attack the problem, not the person. You can’t fix the problem if you’re obsessed with fixing the blame. In resolving any conflict, how you say it is as important as what you say. If you say it offensively, you’ll be received defensively.

Tamira Hite, Portland, Oregon, USA
Involve your assistant in day-to-day activities. By doing this, the assistant can be proactive to many situations and anticipate next steps/action items. My boss and I use texting and IM chat as quick ways to communicate with each other when he is in meetings or traveling. A manager should think of their admin as a key asset to the organization and its success.

Xtian Awuja, Nigeria
The boss should approach issues officially but at the same time maintaining a friendly atmosphere, knowing full well that no man is an island. The boss should plan ahead, letting the assistant know his/her itinerary or workload. He should also try to be proactive and have a firm mind and yet not be too bossy.

Stephanie Danesie, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
To work effectively, the boss should treat his/her assistant like he/she would like to be treated. My boss is respectful, supports professional development, works just as hard and has fun at the same time. A healthy boss/assistant relationship is good for everyone in the office.

Candace Giesbrecht, Winnipeg, Canada
Let your assistant know how valuable they are to you and that they’re doing a fantastic job. Far too often a manager will assume his/her assistant already knows this and won’t bother to say it. SAY IT! It goes a long way!

Parwana Dehqan, Bahrain
Be neutral when it comes to politics and racial issues.

Val Huggins, United Kingdom
“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I will remember, but involve me and I will understand.”

BJ Green, Springfield, Missouri, USA
To listen, listen, listen! So often our executives are too busy to really listen to what is happening to those that work for them.

Lia Greggio, Milan, Italy
Communication is an attitude and on both sides it can be improved. The boss should first be a good and active listener, keep the assistant informed so that is not caught unawares and be a mentor (grow and develop the team to be the best that they can be. On the other hand, a boss should always be someone who is “switched on”: who keeps eyes, ears and mind wide open at 360° in and out of the office; sympathetic as we’re always on the run. Rationalization of time is a must; considerer things from the boss’s perspective. A boss should also be an active listener who will, if necessary, have the appropriate documentation ready that is under discussion. Being aware of body and tone language is also an advantage.

Kelly Hayes, Michigan, USA
My boss treats me as part of the executive management team. He solicits my insight and opinions on projects and respects me to the fullest. I, in turn, respect him just as much for including me as a member of his executive staff and not just an EAA

Vibhanshu VB Sharma, Melbourne, Australia
Do a role swapping exercise of some sort for a day or at least half a day. That’ll be the biggest favour you can ever do to a “Boss” and to yourself. Let’em experience what you do and in turn see what the world is like when you’re in their shoes.

Olga R, Dallas, USA.
Please do not ask me to run your personal errands. (i.e. feed your dog while you’re away or pick up your car at the mechanic)

Marta Elysa Gonzalez, Venezuela
Communication is Rule No. 1

Amy Ross Lafayette, USA
I think open communication is the biggest hurdle that needs to be dealt with ASAP. AA’s need to feel and know they can approach their boss and ask questions or clarify directions. The next biggest thing is to never undervalue them. AA’s are not a “dime a dozen” and the good ones don’t come along every day.

Lilian Gummer, Walsall, United Kingdom
Get to know one another. Understand what makes the boss ‘tick’, his/her likes, dislikes, personal preferences in different situations and of course, strengths and weaknesses. Get as much “face time” as possible at first and set clear levels of expectation and objectives.

Rhonda Fomby, Cincinnati, USA
Be supportive, treat the assistant as an important part of the team, take what she/he says to heart and back them when you know they are right. I had an instance when I started a task I was asked to do but met opposition from another project manager. My supervisor encouraged me and said he would talk to the PM, but when we met to clarify what I was doing, she threw me under the bus! There have been other instances where she did not support me. I have zero respect for this supervisor now.

Mary Rose Guiné Bashford, Paris, France
I set up action list document where all objectives were put down on paper – this way each person knew where he/she was.

Tina Morris, Las Vegas, USA
Get your boss to jot down notes on a small pad throughout the day with the names of people they are communicating with or items they are expecting information on., Even thoughts that go through their head of possible future projects or research they may want done. Then throughout the day unobtrusively look at the pad, or make a copy of it for you. This involves very little effort on their part, takes hardly any time out of their day but facilitates a huge amount of communication between a boss and his Assistant.. There have been a few times, just by utilizing this communication tool I have been able to research something the boss was thinking about long before he needed it. This meant he got ahead on that project and was able to feel less pressured when getting it completed. This tip has also saved my boss many a time from thinking he had relayed some information to me verbally that he did not.

Rosalind Mays Welch San Francisco, USA
Learn to PARTNER . . . your assistant can be your coach, your sounding board, your strategist, your ear to the ground, your enforcer, your time-keeper, your bull-horn, your whisperer, your buddy, your friend — but with the right mental view – your executive assistant is your PARTNER!

Laraine Alder Brussels, Belgium
Certainly to keep the assistant informed of what is happening. This could be done by spending some valuable time during the week to keep the assistant aware of the goals and aims of her manager.

Sarah Brefeld, Cincinnati, USA
Let me know what I do well. Let me know what I need to improve on. Make me feel appreciated (even a lunch or coffee here or there doesn’t hurt) Praise when needed, constructive criticism really WORKS!!! Mentor. Don’t assume I know how you like things. COACH. Honesty. If you are more of a team, confide in your assistant on things you are working on. Makes us feel important. If you feel like your assistant is indispensible, make it known! You will have a happy assistant and production will be much higher.

Pia Henningsen Copenhagen, Denmark
If the assistant is not informed of what is going on in the company it is difficult to know how to perform at your best. A former boss never informed me of the running of the business and was always annoyed when I tried to book time with him in order to discuss open matters.

Debbie Trowbridge Albany, New York, USA
Our firm started an Action Committee. It is comprised of staff members, middle management and partners. We meet on a monthly basis to prioritize and update current items of concern with staff or other general firm issues. A committee member is usually assigned or volunteers to spearhead an issue to see that it is followed through,. All staff are aware of who is on the committee and can approach a fellow staff member that is on the committee if they have an issue. They are sometimes much more likely to talk to fellow staff members than to management. We find this committee helps to keep the line of communication open from staff to partners and also assists in achieving the firm’s overall goals.

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Lucy Brazier, OBE is one of the world’s leading authorities on the administrative profession. As CEO of Marcham Publishing, specialist publishers of Executive Support Magazine, Lucy is passionate about ensuring the Assistant role is truly recognised as a ... (Read More)

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