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Savvy Assistants Speak Strong: Key Conversations for Administrative Assistants

Your job is bigger than you think 

If you’re an administrative assistant, you know it’s your job to provide support, make your boss look good, and help him or her meet objectives. If you’re an administrative assistant, you also know your manager sets the direction and your role is to help him or her succeed. If you place your own agenda over your manager’s agenda, you won’t keep your job long.

That doesn’t mean you should remain passively silent while others tell you what to do and how to do it. Ideally, your relationship with your manager is a collaborative one, organized around your manager’s and your organization’s directives. It’s a relationship where you take charge of your role without taking over, you take the initiative without taking control, and when you need help, support, or resources to effectively implement your job, you initiate the important conversations that ensure your success and the success of your partnership with your managers.

Here are a few conversations savvy assistants initiate.

Responsibility / authority conversation 

AAs are too often given responsibility without the authority they need to get results. That means to get cooperation, they have to refer back to the boss. That delays action and decreases effectiveness. If you have this problem, initiate a responsibility/authority conversation with your manager. Ask your boss to let people know that you speak on his or her behalf and he or she expects everyone to cooperate with you as if you were them. I offer PowerPhrases for this conversation in my Speak Strong, Smart, and Sweet keynote for assistants, and you can find some of those PowerPhrases in the PowerPoint for that presentation here.

Job description conversation 

Some AAs get extra points if they can guess what their job is. Few assistants have clear job descriptions to guide their daily priorities. When you have an accurate job description, it empowers you to set boundaries that keep you on track with your true priorities. If you don’t have an accurate job description, initiate a job description conversation. If your manager does not have the time to create your job description, write your own and present it for his or her input and approval. That makes it simple for your boss since it’s easier to edit than create – plus that way your description is more likely to be to your liking. I offer PowerPhrases for this conversation in my Speak Strong, Smart, and Sweet keynote for assistants, and you can find some of those PowerPhrases in the PowerPoint for that presentation here.

Work relationship 

Does a meeting with your boss mean running fast while they head to the restroom? Does your manager forget to give you assignments until the last minute? Does your manager think blaming you for his or her mistakes is an acceptable practice? If you have challenges in your work relationship with your manager, initiate the work-relationship conversation with him or her. Talk about your ideal role. Clarify how you update each other. Detail expectations and assumptions. Establish agreements about how to manage your relationship with each other. I offer PowerPhrases for this conversation in my SpeakStrong, Smart and Sweet keynote for assistants, and you can find some of those PowerPhrases in the PowerPoint for that presentation here.

New horizons 

Your job is bigger than you know. If you haven’t tested the boundaries of your job, you’re playing too small. Speak Strong to take charge of your support role. Start by initiating conversations to set the foundation for a smooth-functioning relationship.

Those conversations are just the beginning for savvy assistants who Speak Strong. But they are a very powerful beginning. They set the foundation for a collaborative manager/assistant relationship that gets results. Initiate those conversations – and create new horizons for yourself that you might not have known were possible. 

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