One of the hardest things about being a Revolutionary Assistant is sitting in the room with the brass, and when you have an idea or a thought, they dismiss it as though it had never come out of your mouth. You sit, you think about what you said, how stupid the idea must have been…and then, lo and behold, one of the brass says, “How about this?” Your idea is reintroduced as though it belongs to a member of the senior team, and it’s accepted as though it’s worth its weight in happy shareholders.
Aggravating, yes, but if you take the right steps to be taken seriously, people (at all levels of rank and file) will listen when you speak. Here are a few things you can do (and not do) to send the message to co-workers that you mean business:
Ensure excellent follow through – Don’t promise something you can’t deliver, and always deliver what you promise. If you’re launching projects and then letting them fizzle, that speaks volumes about the kind of worker you are. The same holds true at the task level – if you take a task off someone’s hands and then don’t see it through to completion, your co-workers are going to think you’re all talk and no action.
Separate work and play – The more your co-workers know about you, the more you get filed under “personal” and not “professional.” This is not to say that you shouldn’t foster relationships in the office, but be careful that supervisors aren’t the ones thinking their relationships are becoming personal. Think twice before you hit the bar with your manager, and certainly don’t have more than one drink if you’re following the whole department over. Don’t give anyone a reason to pass you over when you have an idea or interest in working on a project.
Remember the boss isn’t always right – I’ve written entire articles about this one. I loathe the person that comes in championing the awful idea because “it’s what the boss wants!” Your job, particularly as a Revolutionary Assistant, is to determine the right path for a project, not necessarily be the mouthpiece for a manager with lousy ideas. Don’t be that guy. Your co-workers and other managers won’t take you seriously if they don’t think you have a mind of your own.
Resolve your own conflicts – If you’re running to your manager with every issue that comes up between you and a co-worker, you’re not a quality team member, you’re a tattle-tale. A Revolutionary Assistant’s job is to keep incidental, unimportant things off the manager’s desk, so unless your issue is HR-worthy, work out your differences with your co-worker on your own.
Go with the flow in the office – Try your best to adapt to the office culture around you. This isn’t always easy, because sometimes during an interview you read a company as having a Google culture and it turns out to be as buttoned up as EDS. If your co-workers are chatty and friendly, try to blend in even if it’s not your way. Appearing to be stiff and unwilling to share isn’t your way into their hearts. Same is true if they’re disinclined to want to hear about your weekend and you’re dying to tell them. Co-workers lend their support to others who make them feel comfortable, seem to understand the game and want to play along.
Of course, following these rules doesn’t mean that the CEO is going to love your next idea, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your office reputation. These are just a few steps toward being taken seriously – I’m sure you can add a few more!
Next Post: Wednesday, November 15