Friday, May 11, 2012

More Questions Answered

Here are 3 more questions I answer from fellow readers at the new site. Hope they help you!

What's the most generous unexpected perk or bonus you ever received from a boss.

Over the years, there have been a lot of unexpected perks or bonuses I have received from my boss. They have ranged from gifts, event tickets/access, to swag, and cash. These add up to amazing perks. However, the best "gifts" bosses have given me were the intangibles - their investment in my career, mentoring me, grooming me, a sincere thank you, showing heartfelt concern, and giving me insight to how they think and why, their time, effort, and energy. There are very few bosses who will give of THEMSELVES and those that do, do so because at the core of who they are, they are very good people with great integrity and character. They truly care about their staff as people, not just as colleagues. These are the bosses who walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. Moreover, their "gifts" weren't offered in exchange for a job well done, but more often were DAILY AND WEEKLY occurrences because that is HOW they manage people. Here are some examples. When I asked for a raise, I came in fully prepared and was open to a discussion instead of forcing an ultimatum. The next day, my boss commended me and said what I did was very brave and I did a great job and handled it very well. (Yes, I got my raise.) I've had bosses validate my stance/argument and stand up on my behalf even when it meant they were challenging THEIR boss' viewpoint who had all the power and final say. I've had bosses who said thank you every night before they left even though they always said thank you thru out the day. I've had bosses who would ask about my family, patiently show me a better solution without making me feel bad or inferior, who never raised their voice, and would personally send flowers with a message on Admin Assistant Day on how excited they were that I was on the team. They would pass along compliments that other executives would say about me and take the time to be kind during their busy schedules. Their investment in me as a person and colleague has been the best perk ever.

Is it part of your job to sometimes take the blame for things that your boss messes up (like unreturned phone calls, missed meetings, stuff like that).

I've never really had a boss that was messing up so bad I had to cover for them. Part of it is because I wouldn't let it get that bad. Believe it or not, the assistant manages the boss - his time, his schedule, his to do list, and about 90% of his life. Even before too much time had passed, I'd reach out to someone and say we haven't forgotten about them. On the off chance my boss did mess up, when someone is so high-ranking, they are truly that busy and it's not that they forgot, they just didn't have the chance to address it yet. It's a good rule to never throw your boss under the bus. If they make a horrible mistake, apologize profusely, ask that person to always go thru you to reach your boss, and say something like: Wow! I'm really surprised he didn't take care of it! It's so unlike him and I'm not quite sure what happened. I will definitely look into it and I will get back to you by the end of the day/week.

What's the one part of the job that drives you the most crazy? Trying to schedule meetings amongst senior execs whose calendars won't cooperate?

There are two things that drive me absolutely crazy that are the same answers from two different perspectives. Kevin Smith had a great story about this in his latest Q&A DVD about when he was working for Prince. Prince wanted llamas or some exotic animal at 2am and wanted his assistant to take care of it, but obviously at the hour nothing is open. I will go above and beyond the call of duty, but sometimes the answer will be no. When executives usually get what they want, and they should, it's hard to get them to accept that I can't control people/companies no matter how many times I try or brainstorm for a solution. It's like that part in The Devil Wears Prada when all the planes are grounded due to weather and she wonders if she can call the military so her boss can catch a flight. I can't force people, I can't change the weather and I can't [insert dilemma here]. In those rare instances, that shouldn't be a reflection upon me or my talent. It's just a fact of life that sometimes there is no fair or ideal solution. I would like to think that because I'm able to solve 99 of my boss' problems (and a _____ ain't one - - Jay-Z anyone? LOL), the one I can't solve totally throws them for a loop!


  1. Hello!

    Could you give us some tips on how to deal with calls? Say when a client follows up something constantly, and you haven't had any instructions from your boss. Should I ask my boss or deal with it myself? Thanks.

    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Executive AssistantMay 31, 2013 at 3:13 PM

      I know I answered this via email already. If anyone is reading old comments and posts, I do encourage asking for advice in the comments too! :)