How many times have we passed this most important of a person when we visit an office without thinking this person could make or break whatever we
How many times have we passed this most important of a person when we visit an office without thinking this person could make or break whatever we are doing here? We pass this person without giving him or her even a simple glance acknowledging that he or she might exist even though without him or her our very business might never even get accomplished. Are you still wondering whom I am talking about? The astute and successful people know exactly whom I am referring to. Those who still don’t know that the most powerful person in any company is the personal assistant are those people who haven’t discovered the power that they yield. He or she is the gatekeeper that allows access or denies it. Yet when was the last time any of us truly acknowledged this person with a kind word or smile when we venture off to other people’s offices? Like the invisible people that we think he or she is, we hardly acknowledge him or her as being there let alone understanding what an important role he or she plays in the success or failure of the meeting that we were just in.
There is this misconceived idea that when the bosses meet and a decision is made that that is a done deal. What is lost on people who think along these lines is that information needs to be communicated and papers need to be signed. Now I am not saying that angry personal assistants would do anything malicious or vindictive but papers can go missing and appointments can be rescheduled and bosses can be unavailable. This is how important a personal assistant can be in facilitating things within an office.
That said, let’s look at the positive side of having a good personal assistant.
How many times did doors open for you or access was made possible when you thought that not likely to happen? Appointments that normally should have taken weeks are put on you schedule within the next days because your personal assistant had the finesse to get it for you. Moreover, blocking people who annoy you or waste your time find it harder to see you even though you might be too polite to tell that annoying person that they bother you. The most important role the personal assistant will play is a role that no one wants but he or she will bear it for his or her boss because they are there to assist—to take the blame. How many times have you had a problem with a client or boss who was livid because of a serious mistake on your part and put you in a precarious situation with no way out only to be saved by your personal assistant who takes the blame for you voluntarily? How could anyone not acknowledge what a significant act of heroism that is? Just because no blood was spilled doesn’t make this any less a selfless act.
Then again let’s not forget the simple tasks that he or she performs such as taking dictations, forwarding your messages, answering your phone, organizing your calendar and so on and so forth that allow you to have the freedom to concentrate on your business rather than spend time on the simple mundane acts that can cause you to lose concentration and might end up costing your company more than you might have imagined. A daunting task that they also commit to is making sure your travel schedule is in order and be there to correct it no matter what time of day it might be or adjust it when you are travelling. I cannot tell you how important this task is when you are away from your office. Those who have been frustrated by an unforeseen travel hiccup will understand where I am coming from.
The next time your personal assistant goes on a vacation, see how well you cope in his or her absence. The value of a superb personal assistant is not when they are there. It is when they are absent that one truly understands the true meaning of the notion of a personal assistant.
Truly an unsung hero.
This article is dedicated to my long suffering personal assistant Zulfa who has finally left me to be with her family overseas after over a decade of putting up with me. You will be missed.
This article was written by Mishal Kanoo. This article represents the author’s opinion and no one else’s. This article may not be reprinted in part or as whole without the author’s specific consent.