The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Friday Guest Blog: The PA and the Manager Working as a Team

By Heather Baker of Baker Thompson Associates

The PA and the manager spend a great deal of time together.

They have the same objectives and carry out different tasks to achieve those objectives. Communication is vital; it would be impossible to work together successfully without excellent communication.

The team (the PA and the manager) should be speaking regularly during the day but, most importantly, time should be set aside, probably once a day, to sit down together and agree on objectives for the day, week and month (this can always be done on the ‘phone if necessary).

How can PAs make decisions on their managers’ behalf and be proactive if they don’t know what’s important to their managers at that time? Managers who are secretive are harming their own effectiveness as well as that of their assistant.

These meetings should not be one way; the PA waiting for the manager to tell them what to do. It should be two way communication. Before this session PAs should have prepared what they need to relay to their managers and anticipated any questions they may have.

As issues arise, an effective PA will always attempt to offer viable solutions rather than problems; they are there to assist, not give their manager more worries.

Many PAs who tell me they have offered to do more for their manager, complain that he/she has not responded and they feel a lack of trust. In fact, the manager may very much want the PA to take on more responsibility, they are just not sure what they could do. The PA should give the manager suggestions of how they could be more proactive.

Networking internally and externally is vital. Take every opportunity to attend meetings and training courses to expand your knowledge and skills. Read books and magazines. Join groups on social media to share good practice with others.

Be aware of each other’s working styles and how you both like to receive information. Listen and observe to really understand each other’s needs. PAs should explain things clearly and simply; many busy managers do not have time for detail.

The key word on all my PA courses is “preparation”. An effective PA always puts some thought into situations before acting – from routine telephone calls and emails, to attending meetings, offering proposals and issues of conflict. An effective PA offers his/her views whilst always having considered the views of the other person. An effective PA is priceless!

 Heather had over 20 years’ experience as a secretary and PA before setting up Baker Thompson Associates in 2000 (  The company specialises in the training and development of PAs and administrative staff.

She travels around the world working with large and small organisations to enable their office staff and PAs to work more effectively.  As well as PA/admin workshops, Heather facilitates sessions in business writing, proofreading, minute taking and much more.

Heather is the author of “Successful Minute Taking ; Meeting the Challenge” and “Successful Business Writing”, in which you learn even more about business writing.  She is the creator of the BakerWrite speedwriting system and the author of “Speedwriting”.  As well as tutor-led courses, BakerWrite speedwriting can also be learnt online at Heather’s website.

She also does coaching for managers and their assistants.

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