Paul takes a look at the issue and provides tips on how to forge a closer working relationship with your boss.

By Paul Pennant


There are few relationships closer than a boss and a PA working well together but what can you do if everything isn’t running as smoothly as it could, if you and your boss aren’t working together as a team?

There may be all sorts of reasons for this: too many deadlines, pressures from clients and senior managers, or perhaps it’s lots of little things, lots of little ‘niggles’, adding up to a stressful working relationship – and a difficult boss.

So how do you identify and eliminate these “stressors”, making their day (and therefore yours) run smoothly and efficiently? And how do you make sure you aren’t adding to the problem?

Sweat the Small Stuff

First of all, are you dressing appropriately for your role? Make sure your working wardrobe reflects well on both your boss and yourself.

Do you work in a busy, noisy atmosphere? Perhaps your boss would prefer a quieter and calmer environment so try diverting their phone to yours, closing the office door, and passing on some of your good habits, such as turning off the email alert.

Communication, Communication, Communication

Is your boss a technowizard, conducting business almost entirely by email – or a technophobe, preferring face-to-face chats? However your boss prefers to communicate, follow their lead. Instantly, you’ll become their ‘like-minded PA’!

How are your listening skills? Do you listen as effectively as possible when taking instructions from your boss? It’s easy – especially with routine tasks – to find yourself not listening as well as you could, meaning important points may be missed.

Buy yourself a good notebook and write everything down, referring back to your notes when planning or carrying out the task to double check what needs to be done.

Meetings are another problem area. Does your boss hate people arrivi ng late, wasting time? If so, try gently reminding everyone that meetings need to start promptly.

Whenever you’re asked to take on a project, find out exactly what’s involved before saying yes. Ask lots of questions. You can then say “yes …. but … ” and suggest alternatives.

If you start a project only to discover a problem or that you can’t meet the deadline, tell your boss immediately. Don’t struggle on, thinking you’ll find a solution. Keep your boss informed so they (and you) can plan ahead.

Talk it Out

You may decide that the best approach is to arrange a meeting with your boss and talk through your problems in working together. If so, choose your words carefully and be prepared for feedback. Your boss may not like the way you work – and say so – but a meeting can be extremely constructive and clear the air.

Try imagining yourself in your boss’s shoes, looking at things from their perspective. This will give you an insight into how your boss works, what they need and what your role should be.

By taking care of the little things, such as making sure systems are working perfectly, you can eliminate much of the stress from your boss’s working day – and yours.

Paul Pennant, DeskDemon’s Agony Uncle, has been a highly-successful PA and Office Manager and is now Managing Director of With a post-graduate degree in business studies, few if any trainers are better qualified to deliver and lead training workshops for today's PAs. In the past year, Paul has trained PAs from Selfridges, Rugby Football Union, Barclays Bank, Shell, AXA Insurance, ABN AMRO, Lehman Brothers and Carphone Warehouse.

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