Working with a Struggling Executive?

Posted on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 by Top London PANo comments

Everyone has the odd grumble about their boss. However, as a PA or EA, your role is to facilitate your boss so they can perform better and nurture their reputation. How do you do this when you can see that the executive is struggling or has very clear weaknesses?

It’s at this point when relationships break down. In the capital, employers then head back to recruitment agencies in London to find a new PA. However, the problem doesn’t go away. PAs and EAs need to be exceptionally skilled at interpersonal relationships. It is possible to do your job well, even when your executive is struggling. Let’s examine how.

Understand their weaknesses

There’s always a reason. Do they struggle to delegate because of an inherent blame culture? Do they struggle to make decisions because they never get the time to truly examine the facts? Do they fail to communicate because they’re always on the road or in meetings? As a PA, you have insight into their weaknesses and can therefore work to alleviate the effects of them. Indeed, it’s in these very weak spots that you can add value.

Remember that, in our business culture, often executives reach their position for reasons other than being exceptional people managers and leaders. Their skills are valued or they wouldn’t be in their position, but you can help act as the conduit between them and those around them.

Be fair and on their side

It’s tempting to blow up frustrations so you soon have a picture of your boss as an ogre. Rarely is this the case. You are on the same side here, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. You need to remain loyal—you’re on their team.

Consider how you can help

Only rarely is an executive completely blind to their own weaknesses. They may feel insecure about them and this can be exacerbated into defensiveness if they feel judged or disliked. Therefore, once you understand their weaknesses, consider what you can proactively do to help in that area. You may need to be quite creative here, but work out a plan that builds trust so you can gradually introduce strategies that help. Be solution-focused and together you’ll move forwards.

Plug the gaps

You won’t always be able to, but in many areas, you’ll be able to plug the gaps. If people are coming to you frustrated with your executive, consider where you can help. Can you be the source of information? Perhaps you’ll have better luck getting that document signed?

Be fair to yourself

It can be difficult supporting a struggling executive. Look after yourself and build a support network around you within the business and in your personal life. Within the business, this network is so others can see that your strengths are distinct from your executive’s weaknesses. You can still shine, even if they don’t, despite your roles being inextricably linked. This network is not your sounding board though. That’s reserved for your personal network while still remaining professional.

Secondly, be realistic about when enough is enough. Sometimes, all the above steps enable the executive and you to thrive. Sometimes nothing works. At this point, it may be time to look for new PA jobs in London. Love Success is a PA London recruitment agency that can help you move onto a better opportunity. Find out more for candidates here.


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