Be Nice to Your Administrative Assistant

When you start a job right out of school, you’re probably closer in rank to most of the administrative assistants in your group than you are to the officers. At this point your dream may be to have an administrative assistant, as opposed to being effectively considered one by your senior colleagues. Or, maybe you actually have an assistant that you share with several other colleagues.  In either situation, be ye not so foolish as to treat your administrative assistant like dirt.

If you rely on assistants to help you with your work, you will know that Administrative Assistants have Great Power. If you’ve ever heard something like, “Absolutely… I’ll be able to get to your work… sometime next week,” might you have been a tad snarky with your assistant earlier in the week?  You see, assistants can be the great arbiters of work flow. And if your assistant doesn’t like the way you treat her, your work will be taking its rightful place at the back of the line. Again and again.

Assistants can also play political portkey for you.  Need access to a senior executive? You’re going to have to work through her assistant.   Even if you just want a signature page quickly signed by a senior officer, all of your requests are channeled through her gatekeeper. When I learned to take the extra effort with key assistants, I even had one executive assistant take an almost maternal interest in helping me arrange to meet with her generally inaccessible boss.

We should also never underestimate the amount of important office scuttlebutt these assistants know. And not just who’s sleeping with whom (I know… that’s interesting- but that’s not the focus here). Assistants often have access to information about organizational shifts, project assignments, client interactions, and pay decisions. Some talk, some don’t. But like anyone, assistants are more likely to reveal information to those who treat them well.