Personal Assistant Tips: Setting Boundaries for Your Boss
|At this point you may be wondering why I’m giving you advice about holding your boss “accountable” and setting “boundaries.” Yes, it’s true that it can be a very sticky situation. As personal assistants, we are paid to take heat from our bosses and handle strange tasks; that’s the job.
Now, having said that, you still need to set boundaries for your boss because humans, by nature, are going to push the limits. The number-one complaint I hear from personal assistants is that their boss requires them to work well outside the parameters of their job description. For example, if your contract stipulates that you’re paid for 40 hours a week and you’re working 60, then that’s a big problem.
Many assistants say that their boss sometimes puts them on the spot by trying to get them to play matchmaker while shopping in the mall. There’s nothing more disconcerting then walking up to a woman you don’t know and asking for her phone number for your boss.
When you are confronted with action items that are outside of your job description or make you feel uncomfortable, it needs to be handled immediately. If you do something just once, then the floodgates have been opened because it’s like feeding a stray cat – they will keep coming back.
While it’s true that the personal assistant job is very “personal,” it doesn’t mean that you have to let your boss take advantage of you by working you into the ground (if you’re not being paid for it). Most assistants are fearful to raise objections because they don’t want to get fired. Remember, you are a business professional. The best thing you can do for yourself, and your boss, is to be very upfront in the interview. If you suspect you may be put into situations that you are not going to be comfortable with, then here is a suggestion I recommend for the last stage of the interview:
Mr. Prospect, now that we’ve had 3 interviews together I feel we have probably covered all of the areas of my job duties. Just in case we haven’t, I’d like to give us both the opportunity now to frankly discuss any other possible scenarios that may arise. I think you’ll agree, Mr. Prospect, that it’s best to put all of the cards on the table now so that we don’t have any misunderstandings in the future.
This is a very effective and non-confrontational way to get your boss to be forthright about anything that hasn’t been discussed. If you don’t have this dialogue, it will come back to haunt you. I can’t tell you how many assistants I’ve spoken with in the past that had to quit the first week on the job because they were bombarded with duties that they did not want to be involved in. This goes for men and women.
|*||If you’ve done your homework on the employer, you may already know that your Lifestyle Management duties will include, perhaps, some situations that would make the average person squeamish. If you accept the job, don’t complain later because it’s something you agreed to. I’m certainly not suggesting you should do anything immoral or illegal, but you have to understand that your job duties will be quite different from an administrative assistant that works in a corporate office.
If you professionally confront your boss about duties you aren’t comfortable with, most to the time they are going to respect your wishes and not ask again. If you are willing to engage in directives that are outside of the parameters of your original contract, then you should negotiate more pay.
For example, if you’re only getting paid $4000 a month for 40 hours and you’re working 70, then you need to tell your boss that if he or she wants you available nights and weekends that it will cost more. That’s simple, fair, and professional business acumen.
Don’t forget, your boss would never ask his or her accountant or lawyer to work outside of their job scope, so you shouldn’t have to do it either. In the end, clearing the air upfront will help you maintain a healthy, long-term business relationship with your boss.