In some companies the executives’ assistants are more important to know than the bosses themselves.
Business Insider reported recently on how the job formerly known as secretary and then personal assistant has evolved, in some instances, into a highly influential role with input into major business decisions.
But there are some unexpected parts of the job. Some working EAs have shared them with us.
1) Staff Counsellor To All Employees
“I’m ALWAYS stopped in the toilet, kitchen, lift, or at my desk and asked for advice from staff on their career, workplace issues or relationship advice,” a Sydney EA told Business Insider.
2) Senior Advisor On Everything To The Boss
Several EA’s told Business Insider their boss will ask their advice in all matters – professional and personal.
“As the relationship between executive and EA grows over time, it is not uncommon for the boss to ask for guidance from you on certain matters,” said the EA to an insurance company manager.
“The boss will sometimes ask your opinion about a decision or a sticky situation – so you’d better have one!”
3) Tea Boy / Tea Lady
Despite the growing influence EA’s have in business, several EA’s told Business Insider they were still expected to get the tea and do the lunch run.
“There can be lots of personal work, and you have to realise that no job is above or beneath you,” the insurance manager’s EA said.
“Jobs can range from making cups of tea, right through to buying wedding gifts for close friends, organising family holidays and more.”
A banking CEO sent her EA to Myer to buy a present for her daughter’s confirmation, the EA told Business Insider.
And the EA to the Chief Executive Office of NPS Medicinewise Ben Wilson, said he arranged the flowers for his boss’s wedding, with the help of his partner and his partner’s mother. As was previously a town planner, he also completed the conveyancing when his boss bought a new house.
“I’m often running errands for personal matters,” another EA said. “Not in the job description however it’s given!”
4) Social Maven
EA’s are seen as a “fountain of knowledge” in the company, one said.
“Staff look to you for ideas and recommendations on shops, restaurants, wine lists, gift ideas, event venues, or even just to find out what mood the boss is in today,” she told Business Insider.
5) Manager Of Everyone’s Private Information
EAs might expect to come across private — and sometimes shocking — information about their boss, but they don’t expect to be given personal information about other people in the company, or their spouses.
The EA to a banking CEO who spoke to Business Insider said she got a little too much information when her boss handed her private medical records to fax to her doctor.
“You probably wouldn’t discuss it with your best friend,” she said.
The EA handled it professionally, but when a junior manager gave her him and his wife’s medical records to send off to an insurance company she simply said no. There are some places you just don’t want to go.
6) Everyone’s Admin Assistant
The title “assistant” is far-reaching as managers across the company will ask EAs to do their personal and professional work for them, said the EA to a banking CEO who has around 10 years’ experience in Sydney and London.
“They will all try it on,” she said.
“When you are in a team you will always have people who will take you for a ride and your manager has to back you up.”
A junior manager once sent her the entire text for a power point presentation and asked her to format it for him and make it presentable. She referred him to the department that would train him how to format it himself, if he didn’t already know how.
Another asked her to file his expenses. She referred him to accounts.
“You have to stand up for yourself otherwise they will take you for a ride, and your manager has to back you up,” she said.
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