“It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” – Rumi
Developing a Great Relationship with Your Personal Assistant
Part 3 of 3
Routine is a great help in developing the Personal Assistant relationship. The goal is to establish a pattern to use your time together efficiently and leave the meeting with both of you feeling informed and up to date. For your Assistant, regularly scheduled meetings build an expectation that they must be prepared and organized with the most relevant facts and questions. And for the client, this regularity provides the peace of mind that comes with knowing outstanding issues will not go too long without being addressed and given clear direction.
But equally important is the opportunity these meetings provide to routinely convey warmth, create a friendly and supportive way of communicating and offer acknowledgment and encouragement for what your P.A. is doing right.
Here are some ways to build trust and positivity into that relationship:
- Think about how you can define success for this role.
- Create some attainable goals that can be met and “celebrated” in some small way so that your Assistant feels invested in your/their success
- Find a “communication language or style” that meets your Assistant at their own cultural and personal level.
- Ask them to repeat your priorities in their own words. Make sure they are “hearing you” and that you, in turn, are making sure they feel seen and understood.
- Be gentle in correcting any misunderstandings by substituting negative words with teaching words. Not “I didn’t say that!” but “This may have been a misunderstanding.”
- Always find ways to acknowledge your Personal Assistant for good work, moving in the right direction, and accomplishing goals.
Twenty-plus years of experience have taught me that employees who are intimidated often perform well out of fear but equally find it difficult to acknowledge mistakes or failures. This can have big negative outcomes in the long run.
Employees who feel respected and valued and, yes, also liked generally perform well but are more likely, to be honest, and open when there’s been a mistake. If they feel it’s safe to be vulnerable, there is a better chance that a working relationship of mutual trust can grow.
That said, it’s very important to keep boundaries. You are in business together. Friendly, yes. Friends, no. No matter how tempting, maintain a healthy separation in that way — blurring those lines can result in misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and difficulty moving forward.
Overall, proceeding with patience and kindness seems to be what the times call for. And the likelihood is that the time you invest in developing this mindset will be rewarded with a long-term placement of the very best kind for both parties.