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Admin to Admin: Working with Your Boss ... Do you know how?

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a speaking engagement where my boss Kimberly Medlock was presenting to a large group of executive level administrative professionals. The title and message was “The SMARTER Steps for Administrative Assistants.” Knowing that I was Kimberly’s assistant, the attendees asked me to share my personal observations and insights to what has made our “boss/admin” relationship and my past admin experiences successful. I believe my career experiences of being both the boss and now the admin allow me to work and contribute from a unique perspective.

Let’s start with a few things I have learned for sure:
  • No boss/supervisor is perfect. Bosses are people and people are … well people.
  • Don’t be surprised by problems and challenges.  In fact, expect them. Working through the  challenges, and learning from them, is what makes us better and more valuable.
  • Your home life matters more than work. Don’t let the two get too mixed up.
  • Your attitude has a lot of influence and power. Being open to change and feedback with a cooperative attitude will always impress and create a climate of trust. 
Here are few productivity practices that have served me well over the years:

1.    Ask for deadlines.
When given a task or project, ask for the deadline or ask when it is expected – even for the small items. You can’t always intuitively know which item is more urgent than another, and you can’t read minds. This also saves you the stress from rushing or putting in overtime to do something that could actually wait. Another great reason to ask this of your boss is that, if he or she hears himself or herself say it’s due “ASAP” or “right away" all of the time, then they might pick up on the fact that they are frequently requesting that you complete items at the last minute.

 Suggestion: When you are faced with an unreasonable delivery, go to your boss (don’t email) with a written task list and expected deadlines and say:  “This is my task list and the required deadlines. This is what I think I can accomplish by “x” date” (or something to this effect). Perhaps they don’t realize they are overloading you. Doing this is presenting the facts and asking for a decision, no emotion, no complaining.  This is a kind and reasonable way to let them know that you: A) want to use your time wisely; B) want to prioritize your work based on his/her priorities; C) are reasonable and professional; D) are asking them to be reasonable and professional; E) are managing expectations.

2. Plan the last 10-15 minutes of your day to prepare for the next day.  This will reduce your “mental clutter” and give you more peace of mind.
What is causing mental clutter?  Like Kimberly says, it’s all the stuff you are trying to remember, all mixed up with stuff you are trying to forget. So, write it down. Get all those things out of your head and written down.

Suggestion: During this end-of-day exercise, jot down things you need to remember for the start of the next business day.  If needed, take out that fancy smart phone, turn on the voice recording and do your journaling by recording. Then, on your drive back to the office the next day, listen and mentally prepare. Create a recurring appointment / reminder in Outlook for 10-15 minutes before your leave time to help you make the habit. “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” – EleanorRoosevelt

3.   Keep your desk/area neat. 

Suggestion: Your desk and office space send a message and make an impression on others. A messy desk could make others doubt your ability to keep up with things, manage your workload well, and/or trust you with additional responsibilities, promotions, etc.
4.  Invest time with your coworkers. 

Suggestion: You spend a lot of time at work; it will serve you well to invest in creating supportive relationships. Always be working on your people and communication skills.
5.   Be proactive with technology and new ideas.

Suggestion: Keep learning and sharing new tricks, tools or technique ideas with your boss for things that could make things more efficient. Bosses like to see that you are thinking about and that you are open to new and better ways of doing things that will help them look good, too!
What are your best tips or advice for creating great boss/admin relationships?

Please post your comments or feedback.

-- Becky G. – Executive Assistant for Kimberly Medlock, Productive Matters

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