Despite advances in technology, frequent downsizing in organisations, the recession, and the average manager being more ‘self-sufficient’, the world is still full of PAs. Yet few of those PAs could hold their head up high and admit to being truly outstanding at what they do.
I’m not blaming the PAs – far from it. Often, PAs don’t receive any feedback, they don’t get adequate training, and many ‘fall into’ a PA role, some with very little or no experience or training, and certainly without any coaching from a more experienced Assistant.
I was one of the lucky ones. At just 21, I worked for a FTSE100 firm alongside a lady who became the PA to the CEO; the most efficient PA I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.
I observed, took notes, listened carefully and absorbed as much learning as I could in the hope that one day I too would be an outstanding PA. Back then, I made myself a promise that if I wasn’t a PA to a CEO by the time I was 30, I would leave the profession altogether… Ten years on and I’m still a PA (yes, to a CEO!) and still love the job now as much as I did back then. (Though, the job’s got harder!)
Yes, I started young – I did typing and shorthand as a child, and did office work from the age of just 14… but that was only half of my necessary learning. A PA is only as good as their skills – and their experience. Experience of life, experience of the business world and experience in dealing with people is paramount to cutting the mustard as a top PA. After all, isn’t that what PAs spend most time doing – building relationships with people to get things done?
There are so many things I was lucky enough to learn early on – not just my hard skills, but the ability to use my soft skills (or ‘behaviours’) to ensure things were completed in the right way and at the right time. Call it emotional intelligence, call it diplomacy – call it what you will, but it ain’t what you do that counts; it’s the way that you do it…
That’s why I devised and now deliver the two-day Executive PA programme for Pitman; it’s the culmination of my 12 years as a PA and secretary; a course bursting with all those things to stretch PAs and make them realise that being an outstanding PA, rather than just a good one, starts and stops with them.
Quite simply: what you think about yourself and others is the key to your success as an outstanding PA. Perception really is the proof of the pudding. Couple that with a few tips and tricks of the trade, such as how to manage a diary better, the five folder system and sleek daily routines, and you’re on to a winner, making yourself a very attractive proposition to any employer seeking a PA.
Trust, me, I’ve been there. And, I’m now proud to be able to share my experience, inspiration and passion with you.
You all have the ability to become an outstanding PA, and I look forward to helping you get there.
Adam Fidler is Executive Assistant to the CEO of Salford City College, and a PA Trainer Practitioner and author of his two-day programme ‘From Good to Outstanding’, which he runs for Pitman Training in Holborn and CBM Training in South Africa. He is also a part-time shorthand lecturer. He has worked as a secretary since the age of 14, and as a Senior PA in organisations such as Boots PLC and Bank of America.
‘From Good to Outstanding’ takes place at a central London location on a selection of dates throughout the year. We recommend booking early as this is a popular seminar and fills up quickly. Call us today on 020 7025 4700 or send us an enquiry online to book your place.