So here's why you should be nice to the CEO's Personal Assistant / Executive Assistant / Office Manager (I combined the positions because I'm lazy. Outraged comments from offended Executive Assistants are welcome).
How to be nice to the PA / EA / OM
- Always take the time to say hello in a friendly way
- Never ever give her flowers on Secretary Day. You can call her Assistant and maybe Coordinator, but not Secretary!
- When she's on the phone, step away but make sure she sees you. This shows that you know what she does is important and that you will wait as long as it takes
- When she's busy ask her if she's busy and then mention that you understand she has a tough job. Complain that nobody ever notices all the things she does.
- Don't overdo it. She's most certainly susceptible to flattery, but you can bet your lunch money that she is no idiot!
Advantages of being nice
- Even though lots of people think of her as arrogant and unfriendly, you will realize that she's quite nice once you make the effort to get to know her
- She has a cool sense of humor flavored with just the right amount of cynicism (this is necessary to survive this kind of job, just like in HR)
- The day you urgently need to talk to the CEO it will be much easier to get an appointment
- You will get plenty of information about what's going on in the company
- And finally, and I swear it happened to me, instead of waiting a couple of minutes until she gives you half her attention, can't seem to find the key, walks slowly to the cabinet and gives you one single pen, it will take her less than three seconds to hand you the key and say "Help yourself" with a smile
This is very important, so I'll say it again: Don't overdo the flattery!
Just like Will Smith in the movie I, Robot, she's allergic to bullshit.
Since I am usually involved in HIRING said person, I help in the selection process. ;) I would rather know the assistants/associates over the VP/CEO/CFO. And someone in that position should have a really good BS meter. They get a lot thrown their way.
That is really great advice. They are the gatekeepers, and they got there for a reason. They know what's going on..and they can be the one to grant access, or not.
I liked the very good advice to take a step back from the desk; observe personal space. So true. This is good for sales people and regular employees alike.
Maven, Frank, as always, interesting thoughts and a pleasure to read your comments (and tweets)!
Real pros just know the value of a good assistant ;-)
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