Insights from a “Rock Star”: A Conversation with Joan Burge

OSU Administrative Professionals Hosted Joan Burge

Ohio State University Administrative Professionals Group hosted Joan Burge April 23, 2018, in an informal session called Insights From a Rock Star: A Conversation with Joan Burge. Many of the professionals attending had questions about Joan and her accomplishments, however, there were several questions during the event that were asked that are often asked by our own readers.

We thought we’d share some of those questions that were posed to Joan.

How does one enhance his/her value in a partnership with an executive who has challenges delegating work?

My number one is don’t ask for permission. Just jump in and engage in the change and do it. As far as the value the second place you can add value is by looking within your own area of the work. Identify the areas in which you excel and leverage them. If you have a good leader, they should be observing your talents and sending work your way that play to your talents.

Training for Executive and Administrative Assistants

What are a few key strategies for “managing up” when one’s new manager is resistant to change?

Number one, focus on selling the benefits of the change to your executive. Number two is to ask your executive to try this new process or idea that you are recommending for at least 21 days. The reason for that is because it usually takes us 21 days to feel semi-comfortable with something new. After 21 days, you can ask your executive their thoughts on the new process. Is there anything that should be changed or tweaked?

What challenges do administrative professionals face today compared to ten years ago?

There is a huge lack of information. Years ago, before all the technology, everything had to cross an assistant’s desk. Therefore, we saw everything, we had to read everything, and we had access to information. Today, information is out in space or in the cloud and assistants don’t have access. That makes their job more difficult. So, my advice for an assistant is you have to ask questions, you have to pull information out of your executive, and you have to get your nose in their business in what they’re doing so you can do your job better and be more proactive.

Training for Executive and Administrative Assistants

Of all the skills and talents that an Administrative Professional must have in today’s world, which are the most critical and why?

The most critical skill is resiliency today. You absolutely have to be resilient with all the changes that are taking place. You have to be adaptable, agile, and go with the flow. You also have to be resilient to whatever your executive dishes out to you. Executives need it done now and they need it quick. They are not always going to cushion the words they use or worry about how they say it. They are just going to tell you what they need. So you’ve got to be resilient, you can’t take it personally. You can’t get offended because your executive is not wording their request exactly like you want.

What piece of advice did you not receive that you wish you had?

It’s not personal. Business is just business, work is just work. The decisions your executives and managers make are just decisions they just make. It’s not personal! It doesn’t have to do with you personally even though it affects you personally. It’s just business. You’ve got to toughen up.

Joan Burge has been speaking to small and large groups for over 25 years. Her passion and drive for the administrative field, the women, and men that are involved in it continues to fuel her desire to improve the overall standard of the administrative and executive assistants around the world. With creative teaching techniques, powerful lessons, and high-impact training Joan and Office Dynamics continue to lead and set the standard for all administrative training.

Joan is available to speak at your events. Please call 800.STAR.139 to get more information.

Training for Executive and Administrative Assistants


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3 thoughts on “Insights from a “Rock Star”: A Conversation with Joan Burge”

  1. The one thing I wish I new earlier is that your boss(es) NEED(S) to know when you have reached your point of overload. I did’t want to disappoint anyone so I was not vulnerable enough to tell my 4 bosses that I needed to have help or to shift duties or…. and the bottom fell out. I lost a great position because I allowed myself to be overwhelmed without admitting that I had reached a point of no return.

    I will never make that mistake again.

  2. It’s fine and dandy to say “just jump in” but it can get you fired if you are not careful. If your manager is not big on delegating work, there may be a good reason he does not. If you step outside your role and it reflects poorly on them in any way, you could be gone.

    Not all managers are good, it’s been my experience that there are more poor managers than good ones. A lot of them have less experience than their assistants and they can take the “jumping in” very personally, forgetting that we are trying to help, not show them up. You really need to know your manager.

    1. Sharon Chaplain

      Couldn’t agree more, Melissa. I’m currently at a company where everything I “jump in” to needs final approval before moving on to the next stage. I’ve written up cheat sheets, training manuals, volunteered for extra projects and they’ve all been shot back to me with “request denied”. When this happens, it’s very hard to stay upbeat and productive and continue to have the motivation to jump in, especially when you know that’s exactly what’s needed but management keeps deflecting the progress.

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