Celebrate your manager this week! This is our third installment in our own Boss’ Day celebration, as this Revolutionary Assistant celebrates the managers that taught her valuable lessons!
I know I’m not the only Revolutionary Assistant that manages employees. Many of us have junior assistants, receptionists and facilities staff to juggle along with our other duties, and that’s not always easy, especially if you want to keep those employees happy, engaged and productive.
When it comes to knowing how to engage employees, no one I’ve ever worked for has done it better than my former manager Dan, because he was particularly keen on understanding what people did best and putting those talents into action. While for him this was a God-given talent, I try to take those principles he showed me and apply them as much as my natural abilities will allow me to.
When I started working with Dan as his executive assistant, he realized immediately that communication was my thing and put me to work at it. Dan was our company’s human resources executive, and one of my first projects was to create a bio sheet or a “leadership profile” as referred to it, for each of the company’s other executives. He gave me a little diagram of what he thought it could look like, and I ran with it from there. Before long, I overheard him in his office, showing other execs in our department my creation and saying, “Look at how great these look!” I was so pleased!
From there, all my projects were like a dream come true. I edited company newsletters, I wrote memos from him to the general masses. If there was a project that required information collection and reporting, I was assigned to the case, sometimes even when it wasn’t coming out of my department. And because of that, I ran to the office every day to start work, knowing that my contributions were appreciated and needed.
Dan could really dive into the details when he was setting someone up to succeed, matching people together into teams as well as handing out projects and tasks that were in his employees’ wheelhouses. He had his whole team take the Strengthfinder test and share their results with each other, so we could understand what made each other tick. It was enlightening, productive, and great fun, and it also helped me see his method and what he was trying to do.
I don’t have that same natural inclination that Dan does, but I quickly understood the power of this ability and tried to cultivate it when it was my turn to manage people. As an example, one relatively new employee recently told me, “Don’t make me do anything in Excel. I hate Excel!”
Microsoft Excel wasn’t a requirement of the position, so I wasn’t terribly worried. But I started to notice that she did have a way with words, a style about her communication. And she was terrifically in tuned with fashion, enjoying making things presentable and pretty.
“I know you hate Excel,” I said to her one day, “but how do you feel about Powerpoint?” Turns out, Powerpoint is two thumbs up in her book, and they’re going to be showing up in her list of projects a lot more!
Another of my direct reports was gifted when it came to dealing with people. She had a lovely sing-song voice on the phone, and customers would go out of their way to tell me how much they loved her. But the angry customers would wear her down. Together, we decided on a customer service course for her that helped her deal with the angry customers – and letting it go after the phone call terminated. I knew that dealing with people was a great talent of hers, and I didn’t want her to abandon it because people could sometimes be rude. Sometimes it’s not enough that we appreciate someone’s talents internally.
The result of these efforts is a group of happy, engaged employees that produce great results for the business. I thank Dan for showing me that an employee using her talents is an employee that has the motivation to do better and more. It’s not only made my employees more successful, it’s made me a more successful manager. Thank you, Dan!
Next post: Wednesday, October 23