I came across an article two year’s ago in the national newspaper, which talks about the Executive Assistant role being more diverse and the perception of the role changing.
It is becoming more and more acknowledged that the role is now more aligned to that of a manager, when previously it was a sub-ordinate role.
The big misconception, as the article states, is that EA’s are just arranging diaries and typing letters, whereas this couldn’t be further from the case. Assistants – especially those working for CEO’s – are a lot more involved in the key projects and understandings of the business.
The perception now is that the CEO is the face of the organisation, but their Executive Assistant is doing all the work.
The current TV Series Mad Men is said to be the reason the role of Secretary is becoming a more coveted and popular position. Although the TV show is set in the 1960’s and the treatment of women in the workplace then was very different to what it is now, the actresses who play the Secretarial positions are beautiful, intelligent, and powerful – as they have constant access to the boss and all the confidentialities and inner workings that go with it.
Take a look at a clip from the Pilot episode of Mad Men, which gives an insight into what life was like for Executive Assistant’s, back in the day…
This type of behaviour – clear to everyone who works in an office – is not at all who Executive Assistant’s are today.
Whilst in the 1960’s, Executives were in their office drinking, smoking and taking naps at 9am in the morning, in 2012 and beyond, the world is much more fast-paced, and a Secretary needs to be multi-skilled to make sure a huge variety of things (not just being able to work a typewriter!) happen quickly and efficiently.
Staff in your organisation who are aware of how powerful this role is, will try to get on your good side in a number of different ways. These people understand that Secretaries are filtering the messages around the business to the CEO. They are also aware that the more you like them, the more you will do for them or go out of your way to do for them. People may perceive this as unprofessional – surely you would do the same for anyone in the office, no matter how they ask you? But I’m saying, no I don’t. I don’t have the capacity to help everyone in their exact needs all the time, and my priority is the CEO, so the easier you are to deal with, the better chance you have.
The staff that aren’t aware of this, and don’t try to get on the Executive Assistant’s good side – I’m going to say it – just aren’t that bright.
What is your office environment like? Do you wield all the power? Do you feel as though you are somewhere between a Mother and a Waitress? Are are you somewhere in between all of these things?