“When are expectations too much? We are expected to perform like 6 figure professionals, when we are only getting paid 4 or if we are lucky, 5. Is there a limit? Can we be taken advantage of? Our bosses are working 24/7 it seems and if we are supporting them, it is bound to increase expectations of us.”
This was a great question one of our readers posed to me. Do you ever feel this way? Once and awhile, do the above cross your mind, too? If so, you are not alone. This topic comes up often when I am conducting workshops for administrative assistants and executive assistants.
I believe the pressure assistants feel today is very real as we live in a time-compressed world. Technology has certainly affected us to where many business people are working around the clock. Managers and executives have minimal down time. I’ll explain this from two sides of the desk. First, let’s look at the 6-figure executive. Most of these (not all) individual’s jobs are highly-demanding. As I said, they don’t end their day at 5:00. Many are working into the wee hours of night or awake early and work from home. They endure extensive traveling which is physically and mentally exhausting. They are expected to make good decisions; they impact people’s lives and business; they not only have their own work to do but oversee others and the list goes on. It is the level of their decision-making and critical-thinking skills that warrant a 6-figure income.
Assistants also face demanding schedules, deadlines, and heavy workloads. Typically, they do not impact a person’s life—such as having to fire someone or streamline a department. While they should use critical thinking skills the demand is not nearly as intense as that of a manager or executive. This is not at all to belittle an assistant’s job.
High expectations come from the outside world. The marketplace is competitive, especially in today’s economy. Organizations must be world class to maintain their advantage and keep customers. Those high expectations are thrust upon the Board of Directors, the CEO, President . . . and continue to trickle down the organizational ladder.
I have high expectations of my staff. If you worked at Office Dynamics, I would expect the best of you. I would hope that you can learn what you need to or find the resources to do your job. And I believe in coaching and teaching employees so they can succeed. Every once and awhile, an employee does not last because they really can’t step up to the plate; that’s only happened twice in 20 years here. Managers truly rely on their administrative partner to help them get through their day. They need their administrative partner to be excellent so business needs are met.
I’ve always believed that high expectations are good. It is a sign that a person believes in you. They believe you have the potential to “do it.” I would be concerned if my manager set low expectations of me.
Now, for the flip side. Every once and awhile, the demands are unrealistic. It is not humanly possible for an assistant to get everything done that has been asked. In the past, I have worked with clients who had the assistants monitor every aspect of their job, tasks, time taken to do the work, etc. to justify hiring another administrative assistant.
Your work load is something you need to discuss with your manager; maybe you need to negotiate what really has to be done and what does not have to be done. Can any part of your job be outsourced? Can you delegate any part of your work? If not, then you and your manager should determine the “A” priorities (A1, A2, A3) and then what becomes a “B” and “C” priority. However, before you have that discussion, you need to have facts vs. just saying, “I’m really busy.” Keep track of your workload for 10 business days; 15 would be even better. Log and estimate the numbers of emails you manage a day; the number of trips you schedule, phone calls you handle; the time it takes to schedule and reschedule and reschedule meetings and appointments; ongoing projects or work that consumes 25% of your time weekly. Managers need to see facts when you are going to negotiate a workload.
Do you have any success tips to offer?