I was told in a meeting last week that I have a “God-given talent for telling senior leaders no and not sounding insubordinate.” The person who noted this said, “Please don’t change that. I often want to tell them no and end up asking them ‘how high?’”
I laughed. It’s actually a talent I developed early on in my administrative career when I realized that just because my manager was the top dog didn’t mean he knew everything. (Of course, don’t tell him that.)
My manager wanted me to manage him and manage the things I’d been put in charge of. Setting realistic expectations is part of that package.
Here’s an example: We were rolling out an Intranet/Sharepoint site to our office, and the site was far from done. The consultants helping us were not delivering on what needed to be accomplished, and several aspects of the home page did not function properly and/or did not look polished and professional.
Our senior leader, the chief operating officer, said, “It’s not supposed to be finished, it’s always going to be a work in progress, let’s roll with it.”
None of our team members were happy to hear this. We’d worked long and hard on this site and when we showed the rest of our company, we wanted it to work the way it should and be loved the way it should. So I spoke up and told our chief operating officer that we were not interested in rolling it out as is. I explained to him that, if we wanted adoption of the tool, it had to work correctly and not look like something a ten-year-old had put together. When the rest of my team nodded in agreement, he backed down, and the roll-out was postponed.
There was not another person in the room that would have told him that. If I hadn’t, we may have rolled it out prematurely and the tool might have failed.
As a Revolutionary Assistant, if you say the words, “It’s what the boss wants” or “as long as she’s happy that’s all that matters” then you’re not doing your job the way you should. I am in my position to make my manager more successful and more productive. That isn’t necessarily the same thing as “do it this way because the boss said so.” Your manager wants things done right, and if his wishes conflict with that goal, you need to be the one to step up and tell him.
Next Post: Wednesday, January 20