I was a general secretary before I took an Executive PA course and stepped up in my career and I’ve only ever been a personal assistant to one boss, so I don’t know if he’s normal. But if I want to avoid offending him, I have learned to manage his seven main foibles.
1. Certain Seats On Certain Airlines.
I don’t know if it’s because he’s mean, but my boss gets quite cross if I book him on anything other than his favourite airline. By chance I found out it’s because he likes to keep all his eggs in one basket when it comes to frequent flyer points. That must be how he can afford to take his family on amazing summer holidays, probably for free!
On short haul flights, he likes the aisle seat in row two on the left hand side. He chooses the second row because he doesn’t like the bulkhead in row one and the aisle seat so he can get off the plane quickly. He told me he likes the left hand side because he’s right-handed and that makes it easier for him to get his bag from the overhead locker!
On long haul flights, he isn’t bothered, as long as it’s with that certain airline. Once I had to send him to India with a different, excellent airline and he sulked for weeks.
2. Snooze And Juice.
I’m only allowed to book two hotel brands because he claims he sleeps better in one chain while he prefers the orange juice in another. He gets a bit snippy with me if I fail to get him into one of these. He even gets funny if I book him into a better hotel.
3. Face Forward.
He doesn’t like facing backwards on train journeys. It’s not even worth trying to get him on a train unless he can face forwards. He just moans at me and says he gets motion sickness, which is all my fault, of course.
4. Dress To Impress.
Where smart casual is increasingly the norm at work, even in neighbouring departments, my boss just won’t have it. He shouts, “Make up your mind! Be smart or casual. Being in the middle is just stupid.”
5. Am I A PA Or A Barista?
If his coffee is not just the right colour and the correct temperature, he sends it back and I have to make it all over again. When we have visitors, it’s just embarrassing, so I’ve had to learn to get it just right, with the same care as preparing a baby’s bottle.
6. Flipping Flipcarts.
He goes berserk if he finds someone has turned over a used flipchart so you can write on the back of the sheets and save the company money. He says it is impossible to communicate to someone if old material is ghosting through the page. He also goes nuts if the flipchart pens have dried up. He expects a fresh pen in every colour at all times.
7. The Shame Of His Name.
He hates his middle name and pretends it doesn’t exist. He gets very embarrassed if I have to fill it in for him on official forms such as visa applications. If I have to provide his middle name over the phone, I have to make sure his door is closed so he can’t hear me because the sound of the name makes him moody!
As I said, I don’t know if his behaviour is normal. I’d love to hear the opinion of any other PA’s.
Published by Holborn Training.
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