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How to improve the transition between assistants

Sid23

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Aug 9, 2007
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Although I know dealing with employee workplace issues is not a fastlane issue, I wanted to bring this up because I am having an extremely hard time dealing with this and need some advice about what to do.

Amongst my other duties, I was the assistant to the owner of our company for the past 2.5 years. I've been promoted twice (from assistant, to analyst to Project Manager) and have still served in an assistant's capacity to the owner. We are a small company of 6 people so I did whatever was needed to keep the machine moving.

But now I'm managing two new development projects, dealing with the localities, managing a team of over 25 architects, engineers and other consultants and frankly do not have the time to be an "assistant" to anyone.

We hired a new admin about 3 months ago with the hopes I could pass off my busy work to her. She has been doing a great job and handling everything that is thrown at her. Everyone sees her as the new assistant, with the exception of the owner.

He still comes to me for everything! I was just on the phone with the Planning Director of one of the City's I'm working with, and my boss came over and wanted me to make DINNER and FLIGHT reservations for him. For some reason he does not utilize the new assistant. I have had several conversations with him about using her when he can.

Now, I'm not trying to act too big for my britches or anything, but his requests are affecting the time I spend on the work that I am ultimately responsible for. No one is going to care if I forgot to make him reservations (except him), but the whole company is going to suffer if I bring my two projects in late and way over budget. These are the first two projects I've ever managed so its not like I even know what I'm doing...

I know he considered me the best assistant he ever had and think he is just reluctant to let me go. I am happy to help out when I can, but I don't want to be his assistant anymore. That is why we hired a new employee 3 months ago.

Any advice on how to handle the situation? Or should I feel flattered and just keep helping him out?
 

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SteveO

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Take what you can to the new assistant if there is time. If not, do it yourself. :smx4:
 

JScott

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Expanding on what SteveO said (and he is correct), you need to learn to delegate appropriately, take credit for your delegation, and give credit to those you delegate to.

Any time the owner asks you to do something, assume that it is your responsibility to ensure that it gets done, and gets done properly. But, this doesn't mean that you need to do it yourself.

Get into the habit of meeting with the new assistant at least once a day (even if for only 15 minutes). Use this time to delegate tasks from the boss, follow-up on tasks that had previously been delegated, and assist with any tasks the assistant is having trouble with. If the assistant doesn't know the best way to book plane tickets, teach her, so that in the future you can trust her with that task. It may take an hour or two of your time now, but will save you many hours in the future.

The key here is to turn this into a win-win-win situation. To do that, you need to:

1) Ensure that the owner understands that everything he comes to you for, you are 100% responsible for ensuring it gets done. While you might not do it yourself, you will ensure it gets done and gets done properly;

2) Ensure that the owner understands that you are effectively delegating tasks. Let him know when you farm out tasks and who you farm them out to; but always make sure he knows you are taking responsiblity for stuff getting done. When the boss realizes that he can trust you to handle the stuff that you delegate, he will start to think of you as someone who can "manage." Whether that's managing people, projects, schedules, money, or whatever, this is your chance to prove that you can effectively manage, even if you're not directly doing the work. This will help your career;

3) Most importantly, ensure that the assistant (and everyone else) is getting credit for *everything* she does. While you can take credit for strong management and delegation, *never* take credit for someone else's work. You'll soon learn that handing out credit is the key to getting others to want to do things for you. If they know that you will give them all the credit in front of the boss (and you will!), they will happily do things for you.

Remember, win-win-win...

- The boss wins because he *never* should have to worry about stuff getting done.
- You win because you now get credit as not just a great employee, but also as a great manager.
- And those you delegate to win because they get all the credit for a job well done.

I've managed a lot of great people, many of whom have gone on to become great managers and leaders themselves. The one thing that the best of them had in common was that they were successful in delegating and getting others to happily do things for them. Remember, if you have 10 people you can effectively delegate to, your boss will think of you as having the value of 11 people... :)
 

Allthingznew

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Aug 26, 2007
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He still comes to me for everything! I was just on the phone with the Planning Director of one of the City's I'm working with, and my boss came over and wanted me to make DINNER and FLIGHT reservations for him. For some reason he does not utilize the new assistant. I have had several conversations with him about using her when he can.
He likes what you do and trusts you. I worked as a Property Manager for an owner that also used me as an accountant, an attorney, and a secretary too. He liked the way I thought and trusted me. He would want me to do things for him his assisant should do or things he had hired other people to do and I when was in a crunch on a project or whatever, I would simply let him know what I was working on and ask him to prioritize what he really needed me to do.

The concept was, do you want me to delay collecting monies owed to you or to type a letter? Do you want me to review this lease so you can get the new tenant signed or do you want me to call and let Larry know you will be at the party? Every time I asked him what I should do, he would have me do the task I was skilled for and go to the person he hired to do the letter, or the call, or whatever it was, but it didn't stop him from coming to me. If he could have me do "it" for him he would.

And that never changed until I left his employ.
 
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Sid23

Bronze Contributor
Aug 9, 2007
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Thank you for all of the thoughts and suggestions, I really appreciate them. Jscott, great post (I printed it out and will use it!) and Allthingsnew, it sounds like you know EXACTLY how I feel and have been there before. I have a feeling I'm stuck with this guy until I leave his employ as well...haha.

I was just on the phone with an architect and my boss called on the other line, made our new admin come get me and tell me to get off the phone because the boss needed me. He asked me again to check flights for him. It just makes me mad because he already had the new assistant ON THE PHONE and made me get off the phone to help him.

It makes me feel that he doesn't respect the other work I do at all and that it must not be important. But I know those feelings are probably my issue and I need to deal with the way that I feel.
 
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Sid23

Bronze Contributor
Aug 9, 2007
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He trusts you to deal with all of his *personal* stuff, which says a lot about his trust in you!
You are probably right. I always tend to assume the worst and think negatively about myself.

I've recognized the biggest obstacle on my path to success is my current mindset. Years of negative self-talk and confidence issues are what I need to overcome. But I'm working hard on it and I will overcome it all.
 

Allthingznew

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Aug 26, 2007
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I was just on the phone with an architect and my boss called on the other line, made our new admin come get me and tell me to get off the phone because the boss needed me. He asked me again to check flights for him. It just makes me mad because he already had the new assistant ON THE PHONE and made me get off the phone to help him.

It makes me feel that he doesn't respect the other work I do at all and that it must not be important. But I know those feelings are probably my issue and I need to deal with the way that I feel.
Been there!

See, when you said he wanted you to do his reservations I saw him standing over your desk wanting you to drop what you were doing and he would tell you what he wanted while he stood there and watched you do it, and your statement above makes me think I was right. Unfortunatlely this leaves no room for delegation. That's why I said to ask him to prioritize your tasks.

I think trust is truely the key. He knows he can trust you and that's all that matters.

Sometimes people just have unrealistic expectations. I had situations where my boss was giving me a laundry list of things he wanted me to do, and on more than one occasion he asked me in one conversation to do a, b, c, d, e, f and in the same conversation ask me if I had "a" done yet! I get stressed just remembering it!
 

Allthingznew

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Aug 26, 2007
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You are probably right. I always tend to assume the worst and think negatively about myself.

I've recognized the biggest obstacle on my path to success is my current mindset. Years of negative self-talk and confidence issues are what I need to overcome. But I'm working hard on it and I will overcome it all.
And this will help you drive in the fastlane and not need to be in his employ.:smxF:
 
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Sid23

Bronze Contributor
Aug 9, 2007
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Unfortunatlely this leaves no room for delegation. That's why I said to ask him to prioritize your tasks.
You hit the nail on the head! I know how delegate and its a totally different scenario when he'll just email me something or drop some papers on my desk. I can get up, go meet with admin and get everything squared away. Or forward his email on to her which I do quite often. And I'm good about following up to make sure it gets completed correctly.

Its when he pulls stunts like this that I get annoyed.

Everytime this happens it makes me want to work here less and less.
 

JScott

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You hit the nail on the head! I know how delegate and its a totally different scenario when he'll just email me something or drop some papers on my desk. I can get up, go meet with admin and get everything squared away. Or forward his email on to her which I do quite often. And I'm good about following up to make sure it gets completed correctly.

Its when he pulls stunts like this that I get annoyed.

Everytime this happens it makes me want to work here less and less.
When he does that, just say, "Ah, good, I've been wanting to teach [name of admin] how to do that...I'm going to show her how to do it, and will make sure it gets done correctly." Then walk over to the admin and start delegating... :)
 

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Allthingznew

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Aug 26, 2007
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When he does that, just say, "Ah, good, I've been wanting to teach [name of admin] how to do that...I'm going to show her how to do it, and will make sure it gets done correctly." Then walk over to the admin and start delegating... :)
That is good.
 
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Sid23

Bronze Contributor
Aug 9, 2007
683
107
71
When he does that, just say, "Ah, good, I've been wanting to teach [name of admin] how to do that...I'm going to show her how to do it, and will make sure it gets done correctly." Then walk over to the admin and start delegating... :)
Great idea!
 

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