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Ask the right questions…

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Question: I will be working with a new director soon. When I meet with the new director, I would like to ask the right questions in order to get to know his work style or what he expects of me. I would like help in asking the right questions so I know what he expects. For instance, the information that I placed on my former boss’s Outlook calendar may not be what my new boss would like on his calendar. Another question might be how he prefers me to handle mail, for example, date stamped, placed in folders, etc.

What other questions should I ask?  -- Anonymous


Regarding getting a new boss: I will be getting a new administrator soon and have the exact same issues. I want to make sure that he gets what he needs from his secretary (me). I look forward to comments from other administrative assistants!

Here are my two cents...don't bombard your new boss with lots of detailed questions regarding how do they want stuff done. It will only annoy. I know you want to do an excellent job so this is what I recommend so you start out on a positive note. Ask your new boss for a few minutes of his/her time. When you meet w/them, let them know you are looking forward to working with them and that you are interested in how you can best assist them. Then ask if they have any specific requests re: handling mail, etc. that they may have. Take good notes. They probably won't let you know everything they prefer up front just because they may not think of some things. But check back with them once a week or so for the first few weeks to see if there are any other ways you can be of further assistance. The main thing is to let them know you are eager to do a good job. The rest will take time so don't be too concerned about getting everything perfect off the bat. I am confident you will do a great job.

I agree, don't bombard your new boss with a lot of questions on his preferences. With this being a new job for him, he will probably want to make a few changes within himself and will need time to assess his own expectations. Plus, if you are too eager it may be annoying and he may dump a lot of things on you that he has in the past done himself, just to keep you busy and out of his way. You may want to meet with your boss for about 5 minutes at the end of each day to check in with each other as to what questions you may each have for the other. In this way he will understand that you want to do an excellent job in assisting him without overwhelming him.

Ask 2 questions: What he/she loves and what he/she hates. Begin putting your list together from the answers. Once you have your list, run it pass your boss asking he/she for revisions or additions. You are starting out on a good foot by asking questions. Good luck. JoAnn

During a brief orientation meeting, I would allow your boss to tell you as much about himself, his past work experiences and preferences or anything else that he wishes to disclose as well as your own. If the subject does not come up, I would simply recommend that in order to make the transition a successful one for both of you (as you are both experiencing a new opportunity)you have a few questions to know whatever you need to to make this new colaboration as smooth, efficient and as easy to adapt as possible one. Hopefully he'll appreciate your concern for his new role as well as your consideration for work efficiency.

I have found positive response by observing for ahwile and then proposing ways of triaging mail, files, meetings, calls, etc. by saying "what if we tried ...?" Also, don't cast the responses in stone - they are very likely to change over time!

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