In this post I cover tips 6 – 10. To be honest they are not numbered in terms of importance but rather how they came to me at the time of compiling them. How’s that for honesty?
My Top Ten Tips for Success:
1. Visualise to realise
2. Perception is everything
3. To be fit in body is to be fit in mind
4. Laugh and the whole world laughs with you; a sense of humour is vital
5. Adopt an air of mystery, never give away too much
6. Never cross the line
7. There is no room for complacency
8. Always remain a problem solver not a problem maker
9. To assume makes an ass out of you and me
10. Never be afraid….what is the worst that can happen?
In my eyes, I cannot stress enough the importance of this rule or piece of sage advice. I always tell any PA or aspiring PA to remember that they are not a friend but an employee and ultimately to put it in plain terms, a business decision. It is not wise to try and ingratiate oneself on a social level or get too involved in personal/family matters outside of what is being demanded within the scope of the job. It rarely pays to get too emotionally embroiled with your employer, ultimately this will end in tears and I’m sure I don’t need to spell out who the ‘injured party’ will likely be!
On the spin side, self-preservation is just as important, it is essential to set boundaries from the Get Go as to what is acceptable in terms of demands made of you within the parameters of your role. If you accept calls at all hours and answer e-mails at whatever time of day or night from the beginning then this will be expected of you in the years ahead. The main problem with this is that it will result in early burn-out and an unhealthy work/life balance. Take it from someone that has made this mistake in the past and learnt from it!
It is naive to believe that any one of us is indispensable, it is essential to keep striving to improve and extend your skill-set from IT, office/administrative systems to extensive knowledge about the sector your employer is involved in. There will always be people eager and hungry for your job waiting in the wings. However embrace competition and use it as a catalyst to be the best!
I want to briefly relay a true anecdote. Early on in my career I was speaking with an Assistant to a top banker and she confided in me that in fact she was not good with computers but she was great with clients. Alarm bells rang in my head as she told me this but I thought nothing more of it. A week later when I called the same office she was no longer there ……………. I’m sure I don’t need to explain the moral of this tale. I took heed then and to this day I am conscious of never resting on my laurels.
A PA by the very essence of the role is there to solve problems not create or bring their own on board. A pragmatic approach is always called for, there is a solution for every problem it just needs a little thinking outside of the box and more often than not a large dose of tenacity and resourcefulness. NEVER take the problem to your Principal without at least some suggestions of a possible solution, even if not the perfect one! They always want options, options and more options!
A fellow PA working for a very high profile individual once confided in me that even after 15 years working for this man, she could still not predict his decisions. This pattern of behaviour is very much in keeping with an Alpha character and solidifies my belief that is better to ask than take the easier route of assuming to perhaps avoid an irate or frustrated confrontation.
Then there is the age old rule of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, leaving nothing to chance. What may seem obvious to you may not be obvious to others.
Lastly on this one, I advise in always taking control, a PA is paid to be blamed if something goes wrong: ask pertinent questions, reiterate the facts when necessary and where possible always best to put things in writing, the classic ‘cover your tush’ rule but the flip side is that it is a useful way to ensure all parties are singing from the same hymn sheet.
Once you show fear towards your Principal it is often the beginning of the end. In this scenario, not uncommon I hasten to add, a harmonious working relationship is near impossible to form. They lose respect for you and in turn you become more and more afraid to approach them or even ask questions when needed and there the vicious cycle occurs. It is very difficult to come back from this and I have rarely seen such situations rectify themselves to a permanently positive outcome.
HAVE THE COURAGE OF YOUR CONVICTIONS! Ultimately there will be situations where you have to make decisions that will have consequences. It is important to be able to do this without fear clouding your judgement. Just keep telling yourself “what is the worst that can happen…?”
I have now covered all 10 of my Tips and sincerely hope that you will have gleaned something of use from one or more of them. If not then you now have a further insight into my character and how I think and operate.