Being a PA is not necessarily a walk in the park! You must be extremely efficient and be thinking ten steps ahead of your boss. You need to act as a second brain for the person/people that you are supporting. Not all bosses are the same. You need to adapt your working style to match theirs. Some bosses may want you involved in their personal life – and ask you to complete such tasks as paying bills and organising family holidays, whereas others may just want you to keep an eye purely on their work life.
You must be prepared for all circumstances – think about what your boss may do next. Ensure that you are ready for whatever may happen next.
Communication is absolutely crucial as a PA. Your boss may only like a certain form of communication; whether this is via email, text, phone call or face to face. No matter what their preference, ensure that you are relaying all information back to them. Some bosses like their PA’s to attend all meetings with them. If this is the case with you, it is crucial to max thorough notes – which you can sit down and discuss post meeting with your boss. You will then be able to pull them apart and prioritise action points. If you do not go to meetings with your boss, suggest sitting down together afterwards to discuss everything that had been touched on. This way you are constantly in the loop and have a good understanding of the situation.
Of course you need to keep a work/life balance, however you must be prepared to have to work early, or late at short notice. You need to merge your lifestyle into the persons that you are supporting. When you are needed, you will need to drop everything and do what is required of you. It is extremely common that your boss’s diary and work load will change quickly, and dramatically. By being flexible, it will allow the smooth running of your boss’s life. It is often that you will be given a work phone from your company, if this is the case, you will be expected to keep an eye on e-mails out of office hours and on the weekend. This can also be used to your advantage to keep on top of your work load and keep organised ready for the following day.
3 Organisational skills
You must be organised. Implement organisational structures into your work and keep to them. By keeping your work life neat and tidy, it will keep your mind clear and ready for all circumstances. You do not want to get to the point in your day where you urgently need to find documentation, and you are struggling to find it in your messy Outlook! Try to organise all of your emails into set folders. Break them down into sender or task and store all correspondence in each folder. Keep a to-do list. Every time you have a new task come up, think about its priority within your workload. Then place it accordingly in your list. This way you will never forget to do something!
Being pro-active will benefit your working lifestyle massively. Keep ahead of your boss – remind yourself the night before which meetings may be occurring the following day. Think about the requirements of said meeting – will you need to prepare meeting notes and a board room? Be constantly thinking – what is my boss going to need? There may be a time where your boss is out of the office, they could be on annual leave and not contactable. This is where you will need to be extremely pro-active. You will be the first point of contact for your boss’s clients and contacts so you will need to keep high levels of professionalism and ensure that you are acting exactly as your boss would do so in each situation thrown at you.
This is so very important. Your boss does not want to come in and see an unhappy PA filling the room with negativity! Being a Personal Assistant requires a calm and collected individual. You cannot allow yourself to get stressed and worked up. By keeping calm and staying upbeat, you will be able to complete more tasks to a higher standard. As well as lifting the atmosphere within the office. You will need to be outgoing as you will often be required to represent your boss and company either on the telephone, via email or face to face. Always be polite and courteous! Your boss will expect you to stay positive and have that can do attitude at all times.
There may be occasions where you will need to motivate yourself. When working as a Personal Assistant, you cannot expect praise every time you do a task on your to do list. You must have self-motivation and be able to get on with your work load without a pat on the back every five minutes! Set yourself goals within your working day. Aim to complete a certain number of tasks on your to do list before you get your next cup of coffee. This way you will achieve more. Working hard may look like it is going unrecognised when your boss is extremely busy, but it is always noticed.
This is probably the most important of them all. You must be efficient with your time when working as a PA. Break down your day and allocate adequate time for each task on your to do list. Take on your most difficult and time consuming tasks first of all. By leaving these to the end of the day will just raise stress levels and weaken your standard of work.
Before asking your boss, think about what you actually need to do. By asking your boss numerous questions that may be unnecessary, you are essentially wasting both yours and your boss’s time. Take a second to think before you speak!