It's Administrative Professionals' Day on April 23rd (that's pronounced Secretaries' Day for those over 40). Its a day to celebrate the person who manages your calendar, does your photocopying, handles all maner of irate colleagues, clients and family members so that your day can be as close to smooth sailing as possible.
Here's a list of ten things you can do that won't break the bank, but will make your assistant feel like you respect and value them.
1. Stop harassing them.
Seriously, it's a cliche for a reason. So keep your hands to yourself, and keep your lewd comments to yourself for one day. ONE DAY. You can do that, can't you?
2. Just because you're a workaholic doesn't mean they are.
You pick up a paycheck that affords you a comfortable lifestyle. You drive a luxury vehicle which is less than three years old. Your PA brings their lunch to work in a bag and drives a nine year-old Toyota. You work 14 hours a day because your position demands it. Your PA doesn't get paid nearly enough to put the same hours in.
3. Return your calls.
Your PA is the person who deals with all the fallout when people you were supposed to call have to make follow-up calls to find out why you haven't been in touch.
4. Obey your calendar.
Every time you decide, on a whim, to change something in your day, it's like you're pulling a playing card from the middle of one of those carfully stacked house of cards structures. Skipping that meeting might not be a big deal to you, but you didn't spend four hours on the phone trying to align the calendars of five other executives.
5. Remember the little things.
Birthdays, anniversaries, the kids baseball games and soccer tournaments, all those things that are important in your PA's life might not be so important to you. But they're the things that keep your PA sane (most of the time) and they're the things that have value to your assistant. So make them valuable to you, even if it's only because it gives you a frame of reference when they talk to you about what's going on in their life.
6. Give them a half-day off.
Assistant years are like dog years. Give your assistant the afternoon off (with pay) and it will feel like you're giving them a couple of days. Why are assistants years like dog years? Because they work for you. And you work them really hard with little or no real thanks. This is a good way to show them you aren't a distant relative of Ebeneezer Scrooge.
7. Take an interest in their career and personal development.
There's a place where you can find an assistant who would say that being your assistant is their long-term career goal. It's called Neverland. Chances are, your assistant is looking at gaining experience ad skills that they can use to advance their career. Find out what that goal is, and give assignments and projects that will be useful for your assistant to have on their resume when they do apply for their ideal job.
8. Don't put them in the middle of your messes.
If you're having a hard time with a colleague, client, customer, friend, or family member, don't make it your assistant's problem, too. Don't ask them to do or say anything that would make them ashamed to work for you, because that's a pretty quick way to make them find someone else to work for. Don't blame them for failing to pass on messages which they have given to you, because that will do the same, only much less amicably.
9. Their family isn't drama, get to know them.
Your assistant has a family. Probably. Family is important. And family comes with a bunch of needs like ballet recitals and snow days. When Bobby Jr. catches a fly-ball with his teeth and needs to be picked up and taken to the emergency room, that's not drama, it's family. When Little Betsy gets in a fight over whether Edward or Jacob is hotter, that's kind of drama, but it's also family. Getting to know what's going on in your assistant's life makes it easier for you to understand that their life isn't drama, it's family.
10. They are how the outside world sees you, treat them accordingly.
When someone calls your office they talk to your assistant. Your assistant is, to the outside world, you. If you abuse your assistant, it's like abusing your wait staff in a resautant. Someone's going to spit in your food, or, in this case, make you look like less than the stellar employer that you are.
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