"In this job you're supposed to be able to read minds—or, at the very least, you're supposed to ask questions.”
That's what Melba J. Duncan wrote in a recent issue of Harvard Business Review, in which she praised the productivity of executive assistants and lamented that many have been cut from corporate budgets.
The best executive assistants are indispensable. But, initially, many have trouble developing the trust and understanding needed for a strong assistant-boss relationship.
Trudy Vitti knows how difficult the initial steps of a new assistant-boss relationship can be.
As the executive assistant to Kevin Roberts, the CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi, Vitti is the gate through which everyone must pass. After 15 years of partnering, "we have a fabulous relationship,” she says.
But it wasn't always so smooth.
Initially, she admits, she was afraid of him. "I didn't know what was important to him,” she remembers. "I didn't want to step on his toes.”
So she spent nearly a year following directions and observing, trying to pick up the nuances of her boss.
After a year or so, she took a bold step: She offered a different perspective on an issue Roberts was dealing with.
That confidence led to a strengthened relationship between the two. And a mutual understanding grew from that point on.
And you thought your boss was unreasonable?!? Click here to read a collection of what admins say are the craziest things their bosses have asked them to do.
"Once you get to that understanding,” she says, "everything seems to flow more smoothly. He'll tell me if there's something I could do better, or something I misjudged. I'll say, OK, and I don't have hard feelings about it.”
As a result, Vitti can now confidently act on Roberts' behalf for days at a time in the office, particularly when he's out of the office. "After we developed a trust and understanding, even our management team runs things past me.”
But, she cautions, the relationship wasn't something that could be rushed. Confidence builds slowly. Roberts later told her, "Three months into the job, I didn't think you were going to make it.”
She smiled and replied, "I wasn't sure I wanted to stay.”
In honor of Administrative Professionals Week, the editors of Business Management Daily asked admins to tell us about the craziest things their bosses have ever asked them to do.
We expected to hear about killer hours, volatile tempers and perfectionist demands.
We didn't anticipate anything involving stool samples.
Here are some of the best examples of "other duties as assigned" as well as practical advice on how to deal with a toxic boss. Read it here.