We already know that a good working relationship between an assistant and her or his principal (boss) is important to the health and productivity of an organization.
For those who’ve never encountered difficulties in business relationships, it seems such a simple thing: show up, do your job well, and get along with others.
Those who have encountered such rough patches understand, of course, that it’s not always so straightforward. When those difficulties occur between you and your boss, things can become even more complicated.
Any admin. professional worth their salt knows that the working relationship with one’s boss is an important factor in career success. There’s merit in also considering this from the perspective of organizational experts.
Linda A. Hill, a Harvard Business School professor and author who serves on a number of boards, writes about leadership. She’s cited as saying that a strong, positive relationship with one’s manager helps you to “stay aligned with the priorities of the organization, understand its constraints, and get access to the resources you need to get things done”.
That’s critical for high performing assistants, who logically want to be able to support management’s ability to deliver on the organization’s strategic plan.
Think about it. The person to whom you report is your principal, meaning s/he has the highest level of authority of anyone in your immediate working environment. It doesn’t matter whether your principal is a supervisor, a manager, or a member of the C-Suite . Whatever her or his job title, that person has capacity to wield influence on your career prospects. This is, after all, the person who should complete your performance reviews.
Then there are other functional considerations: Your principal may have the ability to support or reject your requests for professional development (PD or CPD) undertakings. This person has influence over whether projects and opportunities are afforded to you in your current role.
These are all factors in your professional growth, visibility and prospects. Depending on the sector and environment in which you work, this person may also have control over aspects of your compensation package and whether or not you receive a raise or bonus.
Again depending on where you work, ongoing issues between you and your principal could have an impact on job security – and, therefore, your financial wellbeing. For, while many executives will say they couldn’t manage without their assistant, it’s entirely possible that – from a financial perspective – you are more dependent on your principal than s/he is on you. While many assistants strive to be indispensable, we know that no one is irreplaceable.
Another consideration: If things reach a point where you determine you need to make a career move, prospective employers will logically seek out your principal’s assessment of you and your performance.
Last but not least, and if you allow it, difficulties with your principal can influence your emotional wellbeing.
Assistants are notorious for being people pleasers, sometimes at their own expense. On top of that, even though we’re compensated financially for our work, most employees – not only assistants! – also want to be liked.
Consider, then, the words of Jean-François Manzoni, the President and Nestlé Professor at Switzerland’s IMD Business School. Manzoni is quoted as saying, “We are wired to please authority figures” . Some of you reading this may know from experience that Manzoni was right in saying, “When your boss doesn’t like you, it’s painful.”
When you and your boss do like one another and you have respect for that individual, that positions you well for success. I’ve found that fit is hugely important in these business relationships, which is all the more reason assistants should remember to consider job interviews a two-way street. Even as a prospective employer is assessing you as a candidate, you want to be assessing not only the opportunity, but also the fit between personalities, values and more.
Perhaps you’ve been in your current role for ages, or welcomed one or more new principals during your tenure. No matter how long either of you have been in your respective roles, it helps to consider the other person’s views. Click here for my article, Understanding Your Principal’s Perspective.
Shelagh Donnelly educates and inspire assistants on topics ranging from meetings and minutes to business acumen, cybersecurity and working with boards. She helps assistants nurture their adaptability, productivity and resilience in order to enjoy the career and continue to add value even as roles evolve. An international speaker, Shelagh worked with C-level executives for more than 25 years and is recognized for her governance expertise. Shelagh founded her globally read Exceptional EA website in 2013, and is the author of the upcoming book, The Resilient Assistant.
This article first appeared in Exceptional EA, a globally respected professional development resource for administrative professionals. Visit https://exceptionalea.com/ to find out more and tell her we sent you