Have you been able to achieve real partnership with your boss? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Have you been able to achieve real partnership with your boss?

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Question: One thing that's rarely taught when you start out as an admin is how to seamlessly flow with the executive you support on both a professional and personal level—stepping in and out of their world every day, helping without obstructing, getting your own work done while some of theirs is taken care of too. Our question this week is: Would you say that you've actually developed a real bond with your boss, and that you feel more like an ally than an underling? And if so, do you have any words of wisdom you can share on how to make this happen?  - the editors of Administrative Professional Today

See comments below, and send your own question to Admin-Pro@nibm.net.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy August 27, 2015 at 4:56 pm

I work for a small company – about 27 people – and I’m one of three Admins. We have 2 principal owners and I assist one of them. The one principal meets with the us Admins every other month, but the owner I assist has never held meetings with me. I’ve worked for him for 11 years and I learned how he worked by paying attention and doing little tasks without constantly asking him what I could do to help. It took him 2 years to “warm up” to me then he began trusting me with more and more tasks. He appreciates the fact that he doesn’t have to tell me something more than once, that I know which decisions I can make and which needs his attention, and that I anticipate what is expected of me. But that took about 3 years to reach that point. That said, everybody works differently. Some bosses appreciate meeting on a regular basis and others don’t think it’s necessary. You have to get to “know” who you’re working for and get a sense of what they expect from an assistant; and you may just have to do it like I did – with observation.

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Kat August 18, 2015 at 9:51 am

I have over 10 years of admin experience, and many years as a legal secretary prior to that, which I believe were crucial to the exceptional relationships I now have with both my manager and director in my current position. Early in my career, I surprised everyone by working happily and effectively with the most difficult partner in the firm. I hold to the belief that my job is to make my supervisor/manager/director look better, and I am happy to work my magic in the background. There is satisfaction in helping others control the chaos. Every good admin has solid admin skills, but to be great requires loyalty, respect, honesty, observance, communication, and patience.

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AF August 14, 2015 at 9:14 am

I have been working with my current manager, the Executive Director of our agency, for well over a year now. Before he became the E.D, I worked with his predecessor for 9 years. The work styles of the two are polar opposites, and so I have had an extremely difficult time in defining my relationship with my new manager. He is very self sufficient, has made it known that I am not to be his eyes and ears, and is a micro-manager. That all being said, we are striving to work through out differences. And by the way, I have been an executive assistant for many years so am not a newbie to this field. I also know what it is like to work in tandem with a manager, which makes it particularly difficult when this does not occur. It sounds like so far most of you have responded positively to your relationships with your managers, and for this I applaud you.

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Jackie August 14, 2015 at 8:32 am

I am part of the team with my boss. The best way to create the team member feeling is to have a meeting with your boss and ask them questions about their preferences for their office, phones and work. Ask them how you can help them everyday. Remind them what you are capable of doing. Ask your boss for weekly one-on-one meetings. During these meetings show him your task list, ask if he/she needs anything and what you can do. That is the best way to show your boss that you are a team player and are there to work with them not just for them.

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Julie August 13, 2015 at 4:37 pm

I am definitely an ally. Establish the trust early and protect it with everything that you have. I am definitely my CEO’s work wife. There are many closed door meetings where the “eyes and ears” of the company (me) report to him what was said or how things were perceived by my co-workers. To say that an executive assistant doesn’t have power is very comical!!!

Meetings with my CEO are planned and with an agenda. His time is valuable and usually very limited. If I make a decision on his behalf (make sure this is ok with him first), I always check with him and make sure I have made the correct decision. It is important that he knows that your decisions are following his thoughts as well. This is another step in the trust factor.

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Debbie August 13, 2015 at 4:33 pm

I have a great working relationship with my boss! We are a team and that is the way he feels too. It is so easy to have a conversation about every aspect of our office. We talk every morning. He became my boss in January of 2013 and has always asked for my input. We have disagreed on a couple of items but have always been able to resolve the difference.

My former boss was a tyrant and I never able to discuss anything with her. Asking questions for clarification resulted in her telling me I should have taken better notes. She was the worst boss I ever had and I have been working at my company for 21 years. I tried to change the way I communicated with this boss but nothing seem to work.

Some bosses don’t want your input. It is their way or the highway.

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Lynne August 13, 2015 at 4:30 pm

We don’t have as much of a working relationship as I’d like to have to help him. He’s the only partner in our accounting office. I’ve worked to try and help as much as possible but he won’t allow me to help him unless he asks for it. He trusts me but only to a point. Part of my job is being the office manager but he won’t let me do that to the degree that’s needed either. He doesn’t like change and is very old fashioned about everything. I’ve offered to help him in so many ways in the almost 7 yrs I’ve been here and it just hasn’t materialized; even though I’ve shown him over and over I’m more than capable of handling things. I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that he won’t change and just keep doing the best job I can with what he allows me to help with.

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Faith August 13, 2015 at 4:28 pm

I have a wonderful, trusting, alliance with my former boss, unfortunately she was promoted, and unless I wanted a co-worker displaced, I had to remain in place. My new boss has difficulty letting go of tasks given to him, even when my former boss suggests that he have me do. I approach my boss frequently about ways to assist him and take tasks off his schedule, but he refuses to give anything up. Frequently my former boss comes to me for assistance; we are still close (professionally and proximity). It has been two years, I had hoped by now he would have recognized my abilities and utilized my skills better.

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Helen August 13, 2015 at 4:10 pm

I am absolutely confident that I am an ‘ally’. My CEO and I have developed a very strong hand-in-glove relationship. Not sure I have words of wisdom, I’ve learned that it simply takes time, cooperation, and the effort at adapting and being able to absorb differences in personality and work styles, learning how to be confident that our strengths help the others weakness. Honesty, Questions for clarity not to challenge, Sensitivity and Awareness, Active Amnesia (purposefully forgetting confidential info until I need it to further assist). Desire to continue to grow.

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Robyn B August 13, 2015 at 4:08 pm

I began working for the CEO of our agency as her Executive Assistant just under 5 months ago. We immediately initiated having daily meetings (sometimes they last 5 minutes and others have been an hour or more-depends on what is going on) so that we both were on top of tasks that needed to be done, emerging issues discussed with plans made to address/resolve, meeting planning for the board and much more. It also helps that we have a similar style of working and get along well on a personal level. We both notice a difference in how things are going if we aren’t able to at least touch base each day.

I encourage you to seriously consider daily meetings with your leader if you don’t already do so. She tells me that its made a real difference in how things flow between her and me as well with the other members of the Leadership Team.

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Helen August 13, 2015 at 4:13 pm

I appreciate the encouragement for daily meetings with my CEO. Although we have been working together for almost 9 years (I was her first hire when she took the CEO position) we have never met daily. I think this would help us and me in particular as I am now also supporting a new COO.

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Robyn B August 27, 2015 at 4:09 pm

One thing I didn’t mention is that my boss became the CEO just a month before I moved over to be her executive assistant. So its been a learning process for both of us. I really encourage anyone who isn’t meeting at least weekly with your boss to suggest it to them and implement it if you at all can; I’m positive that you will see a difference

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