For nearly a decade, I have had the opportunity to partner and support CEO Ted Gaebler. Ted retired from his CEO role this past February. Joe Chinn, Assistant City Manager for the City of Rancho Cordova, was appointed Interim City Manager from February-June, and Brian Nakamura was appointed City Manager effective July 1, 2014. Over the course of the past five months, I have supported three different CEOs.
When supporting a new executive/manager, there’s often times some adjustments that need to be made, and those adjustments are often times made by the administrative professional. Building a new effective work partnership takes time, ongoing communication, and patience. This relationship is absolutely critical and should be a top priority!
I’ve enjoyed the journey of getting to know Ted, Joe, and Brian. My advice is to not fight the changes in life but to embrace them.
Here are six tips for working with a new executive/manager:
- Learn work style. Is the new executive/manager a morning person? Does he/she stay at the office late? Does he/she prefer face-to-face informal or formal meetings, phone calls, emails, or written summaries to keep them informed and up to date?
- Know expectations. Sometimes expectations are not written out or verbalized. Ask the executive/manager questions to avoid assumptions and guessing. Don’t assume that each executive/manager knows what you need to know so that you can meet and exceed his/her expectations. Here are some sample questions:
How would you prefer that I best communicate with you? If you don’t like the answer, guide them down a path that will help the two of you have ongoing, effective communication.
What are your priorities over the next three-six months? Make sure you know their priorities.
What projects and assignments can I help you with or take from you to work on myself?
- Schedule one-on-one time. The administrative professional needs to have one-on-one time with the executive/manager he or she is supporting each day. These meetings do not have to be formal meetings in the office of the executive/manager. These one-on-one conversations can take place over the phone, standing in the office, or video conference. Not only does this one-on-one time help you to move business and priorities forward more quickly, it allows you the opportunity to build your relationship with the executive/manager.
- Make a good impression. Be proactive by demonstrating initiative to help your boss be successful. Be on time and available to provide support. Take the time each day to wow your new boss.
- Learn his/her likes and dislikes. Ask questions about travel preferences, food likes and dislikes so you can make good choices. Learn what irritates him/her. Learn what excites and motivates him/her.
- Determine resources. Each executive/manager will have his/her own work style. It will be important for the administrative professional to adapt to that new work style. Administrative professionals should evaluate whether or not they need additional resources (laptop, smartphone, additional staffing, tablet, etc.) to be successful in their new work partnership. If the answer is “yes,” ask for those resources!
Working to build a new work partnership can be exciting. I’m not going to lie to you. It can be a great deal of work. However, a new boss often times provides new opportunities. I encourage you to use the first few months in any new work partnership to create a solid foundation for your new relationship to flourish.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Henry Ford