In Business You Don’t Get What You Deserve, You Get What You Ask For Part Two
By Joey R.
A while back, I wrote a blog about a common personal assistant dilemma—getting what you want from a job. Specifically, getting what you want from your employer’s business managers. When I was starting out with a new client (Tracey, an up-and-coming actress,) I encountered obstacles in my dealings with her financial advisors. They were initially very skeptical about personal assistants in general and wary about Tracey getting ripped off, presumably by a personal assistant (i.e., me). Since I already have a good track record with other celebrities as a trustworthy and reliable employee, I was offended by this, but kept my feelings to myself. I was also annoyed that they were reluctant to provide me with the bare essentials to do the job—a cell phone, a computer, perhaps even a desk.I’m happy to say that after weeks of negotiating, I ended up getting everything I asked for—including a company credit card and a gas credit card, since Tracey has me run endless errands on a regular basis for her many purchases.
The one thing I learned from this particular experience was that once we got past establishing the ground rules, I developed an understanding of how important her business managers have become to me. They are now my most important allies. Through the negotiation process, I remained polite and business-like while standing my ground. It paid off. By not whining or giving up and looking for a less problematic job (the business managers were pretty irritating at times, so it was hard not to react to them negatively) I turned the job I had, into the job I wanted!
Nowwhen I need the help of the business managersI am in their good graces. They have enormous resources at their disposal and a longer track record with my client than I do. I have to admit as wonderful as Tracey is as experienced as I am – her needs are vastly different than other clients I’ve worked for. The business managers are able to provide shortcuts to services information and valuable contacts that are extremely useful. They help me do my job more efficiently.
Because we have a good relationship when they need access to my boss (with her busy schedule Tracey can be difficult to get a hold of ) I can facilitate that access for them. Not that I wouldn’t anyway (it comes with the territory.) But let’s face it—when you don’t have a good working relationship with some people you tend to respond to their needs with less enthusiasm than those with whom you do have a good relationship. So the rapport we developed is beneficial for everyone – especially Tracey.
Not everyone gets how important personal assistants are in the bigger picture – often the business people might downplay our role as simply a hanger-on a glorified gofer fetching Starbucks lattes and taking the celebrity’s pampered pet to the doggie salon. I’m not saying that we don’t do that (unfortunately). What I’m saying is despite that we facilitate a lot of other things that are important to our celebrity employer that enable him/her to be free to do his/her job. With the proper tools we’re able to do that more efficiently. Without them we can’t be expected to accomplish what our bosses want us to do. Knowing how to get those tools (despite interference) is as an important a skill as any that we rely on to be successful personal assistants.