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Being a PA to Someone Who Hasn't Had a PA Before

Thursday, 09 May 2019

Whether you have been an EA/PA for several years or you’re quite new to the role, it can be a little tricky when working for a new manager who has never had an assistant before. In many cases managers who have never had that level of support before will have no clue on how to work with you and may even struggle to let go of some of their responsibilities or trust you to get things done. As frustrating as it may be at the beginning, it is worthwhile as there is no ‘before’ person that they can compare you to which gives you the chance to prove what you can do and what you’re capable of. From my own experience, here are my top tips for assistants who are supporting someone who have never had an assistant before:

Observe: In the first few weeks take the time to get to know your manager’s ‘work style’, the core hours in their day, what their routine looks like and when they prefer to get things done. For example; do they prefer to have meetings in the morning so that they have their afternoon clear to focus on other elements of the business? This will give you an overview of how you can work around their schedule.

Maximising Time: One of the hardest things for any manager is letting go of duties that they are used to doing on their own. This is when you need to sit down and ask them what they enjoy doing and the things that you can save them time on. Do they find invoicing tedious? Do follow up emails take up a large chunk of their day? As an assistant this is where you come in and maximise their time by doing those things that they would normally do.

Get Personal: A key element of any working relationship is getting to know who you’re working with on a personal level. And even more so if you are closely working 1:1 with someone. By being friendly and showing an interest in their lives outside of work breaks the tension of it just being a ‘working’ relationship and builds a good rapport with them. Perhaps suggesting going out for lunch or a coffee every so often would be a good idea for them to get to know you also.

Daily Catch Ups: Ideally you want to have at least one catch up with your manager throughout the day to ensure you know what is expected of you or the priorities that you need to focus on for that day. I prefer these in the morning, that way I know what needs to be completed on my to-do list and it gives me a clear start for the day.

Keep your Manager in the Loop: Great communication will ultimately lead to great results. By keeping your manager in the loop, whether that be face-to-face or compiling a daily report through email, you are letting them know what has been actioned throughout the day and what is still outstanding. This also gives them the opportunity to see your progress, good or bad.

Diary and Inbox Management: From the very beginning you should let your manager know that you need access to their inbox. No ifs, no buts. You cannot effectively support them if you have don’t have access to their diary or review their emails. Ask them how they would prefer for you to manager their correspondence, my manager and I go through emails every morning which works well for us as I know exactly who and what I need to respond to on her behalf.

Delegation: Your manager might not know what work to delegate you as they have never had to do this before so a great way to help them in this area is by showing them what you have done in the past. They might not need you to do absolutely everything, but it gives them an insight into what you are capable of doing and gives them a better understanding of how you can actually help them.

It may seem daunting at first as your manager gets used to having your support and as they slowly shift responsibilities to you but bear in mind that they wouldn’t have hired you if they didn’t think they needed your help.

As their new PA, you’re there to assist them and make their lives easier.

Whether you are looking for a new exciting PA role or looking to hire a PA, we can help! Biscuit is a boutique specialised agency that focuses in placing top calibre permanent and temporary PA, EA and office support staff into creative businesses!


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