to hate setting up teas/coffees as part of my PA role?

(197 Posts)
Bumblequeen Thu 10-Feb-11 12:36:37

Work as a Senior PA in London, earning a good salary. However I really do not like having set out teas and coffees for the Directors external guests. He has at least one per day.

As a general rule I DO NOT make refreshments for the Director as it is not required as part of my role. I have never offered as I did not want to make a rod for my own back.

My colleagues on the other hand do not seem to mind making teas for the team whereas I avoid it at all costs. You can guarantee that on the hour someone will jump up and ask "anyone for coffee?" They then spend 30 minutes hanging around the kettle!

Whenever I see meetings with external persons in his calendar I sigh.

Apologies if I come across as snobby as that is not the case. I have worked in all kinds of roles since the age of 16.

Anyone else who struggles in this area?

Gissabreak Thu 10-Feb-11 12:42:24

Message withdrawn

Buda Thu 10-Feb-11 12:44:15

I used to hate that too. And setting up board room lunches.

Got into trouble once too. Loads of people off sick including Chief Execs PA and the office receptionist. I was only secretary/PA around. Guy comes in for meeting the Chief Exec. Phone to tell him. He says I will be 10 mins. He was known for making people wait. I offer the guy a coffee. There are 2 kitchens. Board room kitchen with proper china etc on 4th floor. Staff kitchen on 1st floor. Lift being serviced. I used staff kitchen and a nice mug from set that Sales Director kept for visitors in her office, put on tray with milk, sugar, biscuits etc. Guy had only just started his coffee when Chief Exec called down that he was ready. So took guy up and he insisted on bringing his coffee. Next day Chief Execs PA tells me that he was furious and that I may as well have used a jam jar! FFS!

Buda Thu 10-Feb-11 12:46:12

I actually never had a problem making coffee for colleagues. Once they reciprocated!

wellwisher Thu 10-Feb-11 12:46:18

I'm an ex-PA and still fall back on it as a temp when between jobs. I never liked getting drinks either (have shaky hands and always worry about spillages on the way to the meeting room!), but I just get on with it. I think you sound a bit stuck up and mean-spirited, to be honest. It wouldn't kill you to make tea for the team, let alone your boss - I can't believe you've never offered to get him a drink! I treat my bosses like PFBs - never had any complaints

I used to resent it enormously, I found it humiliating at times. I used to do company secretarial/ office manager tasks and then to be asked to waitress at meetings (which I also had to attend) was embarrassing. There were other more junior employees who perhaps should have done it, but were not presentable or reliable enough I guess.

I also used to burn myself regularly on the CEO's dodgy cafetiere, sitting in on meetings nursing a nasty scald is horrible and he wasn't very sympathetic.

So no, it's not unreasonable but it's hard to say what the solution would be.

I work in a law firm now with dedicated catering staff who do all that stuff grin

MorticiaAddams Thu 10-Feb-11 12:50:45

I didn't mind that too much but one of the bosses at a workplace (not mine) used to ask his PA to make his tea and coffee. Every other fucker from the director to the office junior made their own, why couldn't he? I just couldn't have worked for him.

allsquareknickersnofurcoat Thu 10-Feb-11 12:52:09

I hate making teas and coffees, both at home and at work! Dont have a problem with it, am just lazy and cant be arsed.

Ladyofthehousespeaking Thu 10-Feb-11 12:52:49

Yanbu-I found it humiliating after a while too - I don't mind plinking stuff on a table prettily but I draw the line at waitressing

ThreIsNoSpoon Thu 10-Feb-11 12:53:08

Why is it humiliating to make a coffee?

How bizarre! Snobby? Is making teas beneath you? Glad you are not on our team at work.

I agree with wellwisher, much better to treat them as PFB's grin

poorbuthappy Thu 10-Feb-11 12:54:44

I worked in a manufacturing company, quite small and I was the only woman.
I was the sales manager.
It took about 2 weeks for me to hammer home to them that because I was the only woman didn't mean I was the only 1 capable of making tea/coffee for guests/visitors.

It used to really wind me up as they were all capable of making their own drinks, but it seemed to be as soon as someone outside the company stepped through the door all bets were off.

It didn't take long to educate them...grin

Are you expected to waitress, or to just put out the things? Putting out the things sounds like a perfectly reasonable request and not outside the requirements of your job.

Elk Thu 10-Feb-11 12:54:59

My dh's pa makes him tea/coffee if he's around as she views anything that makes his life easier as part of her job.
Dh does find it a bit wierd but he is so busy it is useful. However, if he feels the need for a break he has been known to make her a cuppa. Since he is very rarely in the office it isn't really a problem.
The arguments in his office were over who turned on/unloaded the executive dishwasher!! Some of the pa's thought they shouldn't have to do it but moaned when there weren't any clean cups. dh ended up doing it himself for a few days. Funny that nobody had argued who should do the washing up!

When it comes to team coffees, do you say no when offered one, and then make one for jus yourself?

MorticiaAddams Thu 10-Feb-11 12:58:56

Elk My dh's pa makes him tea/coffee if he's around as she views anything that makes his life easier as part of her job.

It's entirely different if he has that attitude and she is offering. I would always have offered my boss and others tea/coffee if I was making it.

lesley33 Thu 10-Feb-11 13:00:48

I can't understand the poster who said it was humiliating to prepare drinks for visitors. What is humiliating about it?

I think its irrelevant that for one poster, there were people junior to her in the meeting. This just sounds like you think making drinks is too menial for you to do. If they don't want vistors to make their own drinks, then somebody has to make them.

freshmint Thu 10-Feb-11 13:05:13

you are a PA
if you don't want to make coffee get another job
it is not beneath you. it is part of a secretary's job

FakePlasticTrees Thu 10-Feb-11 13:06:54

YABU - pre DS I was the PA to the only UK member of the Board of a large multi-national (have returned to work for someone more junior and less stressful), I was seen as possibly the most senior of a team of 50 PAs - but i made tea/coffee for my boss' guests (normally a couple a day), and would normally make my boss a drink a couple of times a day. Most importantly, I never missed 'my turn' making drinks for the other PAs in my immediate area (there were 5 of us in that particular part of the company), that makes you look stuck up and not good when you need to call in a favour.

As an EA to a v.v.v.v important bloke in the city told me once early on in my career, "don't think that just because you support someone important that makes you someone important."

If you don't like making drinks for guests, it's the wrong role for you. It's a basic part of being a PA, if you've had someone else to do the bits of the job you consider beneath you in the past, you've been very lucky.

freshmint Thu 10-Feb-11 13:08:41

hear hear fakey

Badgerwife Thu 10-Feb-11 13:14:28

I'm a Director's PA in London too and I do occasionally make tea/coffee for my boss but only if she asks, however I would always offer her visitors one. I think it is part of welcoming them. It's not in my job description but it is a given as far as I'm concerned.

If it is a meeting with a larger number of people, I do make all the arrangements for drinks and lunches, and will lay things out for them, however I don't make individual drinks if it's more than 5 people!

I don't really understand why feel humiliation/embarassment. It's hardly a major part of the role. And part of being a PA is being helpful and making things as easy as possible for your boss, if you feel that strongly about it, you are in the wrong job.

GloriaSmut Thu 10-Feb-11 13:17:55

YABU - and rather precious too given that this is hardly an unusual task for a PA to do.

Even when I was in a senior management role and responsible for a large team of people, I took my turn with the tea and coffee brewing. Admittedly, not if I was in the middle of a meeting but on those occasions, someone else in my team would make tea for me and my visitors too. It was all about give and take and nobody being so up their own arse that tea-making was beneath them.

In another life I used to work in a PR firm and we used to make tea, coffee whatever on a rota, regardless of our role there. It didn't bother me. The best was when we rang the bar and had G&T delivered. Ah, the Nineties!

radiohelen Thu 10-Feb-11 13:20:07

YABU - if you don't like it, you ain't cut out to be a PA. You need to be an office manager or something. If your boss has people visiting him then you need to be hospitable. If you were a more junior version of your boss and you were being asked to make tea then that's another issue but mate, you are the PA.

Bumblequeen Thu 10-Feb-11 13:40:49

Buda- that was an unfair comment when you clearly made an effort.
Wellwisher- I decline when colleagues ask me and make my own possibly once a day.
Thereisnospoon- I do not find it humiliating as the other poster said. Just do not like this part of my role.

I probably am being unreasonable as I am not required to do this often and it takes 5 mins.

Maybe it is time to start up my own business.......(dreaming)

galletti Thu 10-Feb-11 13:45:56

Mmm, So if you didn't set up the teas/coffees for external meetings, who would? And who would you expect to? TBH think it is part of the job of a PA.

Re making tea/coffee for your team, I don't have a problem with that at all, if it is being reciprocated - isn't that part of being a 'team'? Don't see wh it shoud take 30 minutes though!

2babyblues Thu 10-Feb-11 13:46:33

Well who would get vistiors tea and coffee if you didn't? Surely, you're not expecting your boss to? Or do you think there is an underling more suitable?

tigitigi Thu 10-Feb-11 13:46:54

Its your job. When I worked in a big firm rather than for myself I would always offer to make my PA and others in the team a coffee if I was having one, they would do it for me. If I was in a meeting my PA would sort out for guests and me. If she was unavailable my junior would do it not because of any implication of meniality but so I could concentrate.

I think if it's upfront that waitressing is part of the job, fine. If other employees of the same level do it, fine.

It's a bit demeaning when you meet a supplier for the first time, you've spoken on the phone etc., and then have to curtsey and make the teas. It affects your relationship with them.

Maybe I'm just resentful because it wasa toxic workplace and I left due to bullying.

dickcheeseandthecrackers Thu 10-Feb-11 13:55:22

Just get on with it. I had to have my ex boss' breakfast on a silver tray (berries, cereal, specially brewed coffee, wholemeal toast and water) all in wedgewood china etc in his office at 7.30am every day. Plus all the coffees etc.
Just part of your duties, for which they pay you.

Quenelle Thu 10-Feb-11 13:58:40

When I was a PA I didn't mind making drinks for visitors but I hated making them for staff, even if they were in the same meeting.

They would all just stare at me while I struggled through the door with a tray. It never occurred to them to move that pile of papers out of the way so I could put the plate of biscuits down. They all just sat there like their arms and legs didn't work.

Have always avoided getting into a tea making 'round' with colleagues too. It's much quicker to nip to the kitchen and make one cup when I want one.

GetOrfMoiLand Thu 10-Feb-11 13:58:46

I don't see it is a demeaning thing to do.

I manage a team of 6 - I take turns in making teas along with the rest of them.

If I have a meeting with my boss and he says 'do me a favour and make me a cuppa if you are having one' then I will. He reciprocates.

When suppliers come in and meet with me I make them a drink - I do not understand how this would affect your relationship with them at all. It would have a bigger impact if you didn't make them a drink after they have made the effort to come to a meeting, tbh.

It's a cup of fucking tea.

MrsFruitcake Thu 10-Feb-11 13:58:56

It is part of your job isn't it?

In every role I've ever had as a PA, it's been in my job description to set up teas and lunches and clear away etc. Sometimes this conflicts with other more important work, but that's the way it is. It's not demeaning IMO, and I wouldn't say it was really waitressing either.

Maybe I'm just too old school though. One ex-boss really did rely on me for everything, even to send his wife flowers on her birthday and choosing presents for her on the birth of their first child. The complete cliche but true.

MrsFruitcake Thu 10-Feb-11 14:01:04

I forgot to say, I also had a coffee percolator on the go in my office at all times so he could help himself and I was always prepared if he sprung a meeting one me, which he often did!

Takver Thu 10-Feb-11 14:02:24

You could always take my mother's (unintended) approach in one job where she was expected to do this.

She doesn't drink coffee, and has her tea very strong. She swears she always did her best to provide drinkable coffee/tea - but her boss got someone else to do it after she had been in the job about 2 weeks and made her swear never to give coffee to a visitor ever again grin

traceybath Thu 10-Feb-11 14:05:13

Its way more annoying when you are running the meeting but have to go out to do all the drinks because the PA's won't do it [bitter experience]

But seriously - I never minded doing drinks when I temped as a PA - its not exactly a big part of the day is it?

wellwisher Thu 10-Feb-11 14:06:56

My dad makes a point of refusing tea/coffee when visiting other offices for meetings - he says it makes him happy to see the relief on the secretary's face grin

As someone else said, YABU not to like doing this, but YWBU to refuse. And I think you should offer to make tea for your boss even if you don't do it for anyone else

traceybath Thu 10-Feb-11 14:07:00

MrsFruitcake - that sounds like an Architects I temped in after university for a while. I used to have to make my boss's phone calls and then put the caller through rather as though it was 1950 - was hilarious.

Also would be given his cashcard and pin number to go and get him money etc.

However I was only a temp.

NinkyNonker Thu 10-Feb-11 14:08:17

Hell, I used to be global marketing director for a large firm and the only female on the global board...being only 26 and female coffees often fell to me. Now that certainly wasn't my remit! I would always pitch in for the team though, so Yabu I think. In a pa type role I think I would always offer my boss one.

I did get asked to take the minutes at a board meeting I was presenting at once, not sure how they thought that'd work! I just laughed and made out like I thought their presumption was a joke, let them save face and avoided a confrontation.

muggglewump Thu 10-Feb-11 14:08:45

I'm a cleaner, it's a step up for me to make the teagrin

NinkyNonker Thu 10-Feb-11 14:14:38

I would always make coffee for my guest if there was just one of them, but find someone else to do if for me if there was more than one. Otherwise I was wasting my time and theirs. I'd have been a little hmm if my assistant/pa/secretary had refused or seemed grudging to be honest.

fedupofnamechanging Thu 10-Feb-11 14:18:39

I think that if you are the PA, then it's fair enough to expect you to make coffee.

However, if you are not a PA, but you are expected to do it, because you are the only woman in the meeting and no one else ever makes any, then YANBU to get pissed off and refuse to do it.

BettyCash Thu 10-Feb-11 14:21:05

YABU, no-one's too good to make the tea

kittybuttoon Thu 10-Feb-11 14:33:16

You don't have to like doing it, but you still have to do it.

In almost every workplace, people are spending some of their time doing something they HATE. There's an art to not letting it show, that's all.

Personally, I've made drinks for loads of colleagues (junior and senior to me) and it's never occurred to me that they're using the fact to judge my status.

I just assume they're thinking 'How friendly and helpful Kitty is'

nomoreheels Thu 10-Feb-11 14:58:10

YANBU but unfortunately I think it's ingrained as part of the PA role. I used to bloody hate feeling like the trolley dollybird having to set out posh lunch and coffee all the time for Big Powerful Men who looked down on me and didn't even know my name.

It was an insult to my intelligence. And a part of why I am no longer a PA.

GMajor7 Thu 10-Feb-11 15:07:28

There are far worse things to do on the job than make tea IME.

GMajor7 Thu 10-Feb-11 15:07:59

You can make a great cuppa and still be intellient btw.

nomoreheels Thu 10-Feb-11 15:14:40

And by the way I was hmm at this:

As an EA to a v.v.v.v important bloke in the city told me once early on in my career, "don't think that just because you support someone important that makes you someone important."

What a shitty thing to say! And you thought that was ok? This sort of attitude is why I will never, ever work in a corporate office EVER again.

cocoachannel Thu 10-Feb-11 15:14:51

YABU. Everyone takes their turn in making the tea in my office, but if I have guests in my PA will offer to get the drinks so I don't have to leave external people sitting there on their own whilst I go and make coffee, which would be quite rude and a waste of their time! It's not on her job description explicitly and I have never asked her to do so, it's just common sense to her and part of the intuition which makes her an invaluable member of the team.

cocoachannel Thu 10-Feb-11 15:20:15

ps. if anyone's wondering about my comment re. wasting people's time and the fact I'm on MN mid-pm, I'm on maternity leave smile!

Tee2072 Thu 10-Feb-11 15:22:00

Back when I was still a PA, the CEO I supported would tease me all of the time because I could never deliver drinks without spilling. I would always reply 'I learned how to type so I wouldn't have to be a waitress.'

Now I'm the CEO. And I make my own coffee.

oldwomaninashoe Thu 10-Feb-11 15:37:38

I make coffee get breakfast and make a sandwich for his lunch, and for his guests if he has a breakfast or lunch meeting. I quite enjoy getting my arse off my chair and doing something different.
It makes his working life easier, and his guests always thank me for my efforts.
It ia all part of the job!

Oh and I walk his dog if he brings her in grin

Chatelaine Thu 10-Feb-11 15:45:13

"Working Girl" was on last night. grin

notrightnow Thu 10-Feb-11 15:46:23

Oh, get over yourself! I work in a senior administrative role. At a recent event the catering staff didn't turn up on time and my boss and I served teas and coffees with a smile to our guests. We made light of it and it just wasn't a problem.

In my experienced people only feel demeaned by tasks like this if they have anxieties about their own status and role. You sound as though you are senior, experienced and competent, so why are you wound up about this?

Mammie81 Thu 10-Feb-11 15:52:28

Im a senior PA and I still had to set up the tea's when our catering dept wouldnt do it (some rooms are unsuitable for them to take the trolley to)

I hated it but only because people would complain about the standard of the coffee like I had harvested, roasted and brewed it myself!

BranchingOut Thu 10-Feb-11 15:57:23

I think there is a difference between making coffee/tea in a friendly 'turn and turn about' fashion between colleagues and making tea for someone as the OP describes.

Don't know. I suppose there is a whiff of inequality and servility in the arrangement.

Wasn't there a phrase around at one point about secretaries being 'office wives'? The male/female dynamic in lots of executive/secretary positions seems to play a part here.

BranchingOut Thu 10-Feb-11 15:59:56

What I mean is, where did this idea that it is the secretary's job come from?

Tee2072 Thu 10-Feb-11 16:10:38

Because it is the secretary/PA's job to make the person they are supporting job easier. And part of making it easier is helping to 'lubricate' relationships in meetings. And that lubrication is usually in the form of tea/coffee.

I also used to offer to get the CEO lunch.

notrightnow Thu 10-Feb-11 16:14:51

"What I mean is, where did this idea that it is the secretary's job come from?"

Because most offices don't have full time catering staff? And it's hard to chair a meeting while pouring coffee?

Mammie81 Thu 10-Feb-11 16:14:58

I once had a colleage CLIMB over the counter in our work canteen to serve herself porridge when I had only provided pastries.

She then shouted at me in front of a room full of people because the phone wasnt working (it was... she hadnt dialled 9... seriously!)

lesley33 Thu 10-Feb-11 16:15:14

I just don't see any "whiff of inequality or servitude" about making drinks. You may also have been asked to type and send out agendas for the meeting or to take minutes - these are all activities that make your bosses job easier. Do you see these type of tasks as servitude?

TattyDevine Thu 10-Feb-11 16:18:41

Its one thing to make a drink for the client but how is it part of your job to make a drink for your boss? That's surely a personal requirement. Do you give him a blow job as well? hmm

BranchingOut Thu 10-Feb-11 16:21:59

I can definitely see how it is helpful for a secretary to do this for a meeting - I love a nice warm mug of something and preferably a cake or biscuit too, but I would always make it myself. Or, if I am leading a meeting and feel that offering hospitality is important, then I would make it.

Not trying to offend anyone, but just unpick what the OP is asking.

BranchingOut Thu 10-Feb-11 16:23:37

Yes that is it, I see a secretary or PA's job as administrative and problem solving, whereas providing and serving food is surely outside that remit.

pascoe28 Thu 10-Feb-11 16:24:03

I guess when you applied for the role of PA you thought you'd be hedging the firm's exposure to gold and going long on Brent futures, did you? hmm

GabbyLoggon Thu 10-Feb-11 16:26:39

I have often though I would like to have a PA for a fortnight, Just for the experience cheers "Gabby"

notrightnow Thu 10-Feb-11 16:30:14

But BranchingOut, if you are leading a meeting of more than one or two people, and you make the coffee, is that not a waste of time? The argument is an economic one, surely? Bosses are paid more than secretaries; their time is more expensive; secretaries are there to smooth the path for the boss; making coffee is a secretary's task. In purely financial terms, what makes more sense - to have the boss making coffee at £50 an hour to the company, or the secretary at £15 an hour? The same logic applies to typing letters, sending faxes, waiting on the phone to set up meetings and appointments - it's no different and proving hospitality is just part of those range of tasks that you do to support your boss in the workplace.

I can see that in small offices, or organisations which little hierarchy (so probably not involving billable hours to clients) then your system of everyone making the coffee can work, but I don't think it would work for the kind of organisations the OP is in.

(also not wanting to offend - it's an interesting discussion and I think what you say about men/women is probably true and makes the issue more loaded and difficult than it should be)

Anyway, as Xenia isn't here, I'll say it - if you don't want to be in a job where you make coffee for your boss ..... get a job where you ARE the boss!

amothersplaceisinthewrong Thu 10-Feb-11 16:30:32

I regularly make teas and coffees for my bosses guests - and I am not even his PA! Doesn't bother me, I like to nose and put faces to voices etc.....

lesley33 Thu 10-Feb-11 16:32:42

Also fiund the comment about blow jobs really offensive. I am a boss and I am a woman.

notrightnow Thu 10-Feb-11 16:32:47

Sorry - so many typos in there!

providing hospitality
organisations with little hierarchy

In too much of a hurry to go and get myself a cup of coffee and a cake wink

freshmint Thu 10-Feb-11 18:03:52

IMAGINE having to make coffee for client meetings

"Oh hello, lovely to see you. Now, before we get into the minutiae of negotiating the warranties in the Sale & Purchase Agreement, let me just go to the kitchen and make all 15 of you coffee. Yes, yes, I know you are paying me £500 an hour for my advice, and the combined hourly total of the advisors around the table is nearer £5,000, but you won't begrudge 15 minutes of that, will you, as my secretary thinks she is too important to make coffee."

Yeah, right.

A secretary is a servile role. She is servicing the needs of her boss. A lawyer is a servile role. She is servicing the needs of her client. Who is NOT paying her to make coffee.

freshmint Thu 10-Feb-11 18:05:15

branching out you are assuming all secretaries are female and all executives/bosses are male

simply NOT true. One of my worst secretaries was a bloke

northerngirl41 Thu 10-Feb-11 19:17:36

TBH the best bosses are the ones who make the tea and offer you one... You seriously never make tea/coffee for anyone?

Realistically if you are in a very responsible position and negotiating big contracts or trying to figure out a legal document which has massive ramifications or having a meeting with a head heid'un, you don't have time to be meandering around M&S at lunchtime and queing for 20 mins in the lunchtime rush!!

ameliameerkat Thu 10-Feb-11 20:04:24

Slightly off topic, but the only admin person in our office doesn't like answering the phones. So about half the time the non-admin people end up answering the phones.....and dealing with the door entry system........and dealing with visitors. I don't think she sees those tasks as necessarily part of her role. Which bugs the hell out of me!

LadyOfTheManor Thu 10-Feb-11 20:06:04

I haven't read all the posts. Isn't a PA just a secretary to one person instead of many? Aren't secretaries supposed to do as is asked of them by their superior? Don't all secretaries have to make tea and coffee?

BranchingOut Thu 10-Feb-11 21:19:58

No, I definitely wouldn't assume that all secretaries are female and all bosses are male. I said:

The male/female dynamic in lots of executive/secretary positions seems to play a part here.

Of course I know there are female bosses and male secretaries. However, I do know that in the large department where my DH has worked for many years (mostly 1 secretary per 2 'bosses') while there are some female bosses, there has never been a male secretary.

If there is a meeting for 15 people - requiring tea/coffee/food then surely that is a catering task rather than something for a PA to organise.


I have not had to make tea or coffee since I left that particular job.

My current employer considers that secretaries also have more important things to do than make coffee for clients, so they have staff specifically employed to do that.

I would never describe them as servile though, whilst your use of the word is strictly correct it has demeaning overtones which I think you understand perfectly well.

I like to treat everyone as a professional, whether they're paid more or less than me.

In my experience, it's receptionists that tend to make tea etc. as part of their role.

Suncottage Thu 10-Feb-11 21:45:02

I work with 82 men and six women, all the women have been asked to make tea/coffee for meetings even when I have been involved in the meetings.

Strangely the transexual male to female full op colleague is exempt. The guys will never ask her and when I ask why they shrug and look embarassed.

Curious. She refused to make teas or coffees for them but the 'female' staff are different apparently.

No, I won't make tea - they know where the kettle is.


Who is answering the phone when the receptionist makes tea?

It depends on the company's front of house organisation, doesn't it? Sometimes firms employ 2, others just don't get many calls to the switchboard and others employ an operator.

This is very subjective anyway. I dislike waitressing, others accept it as part of their role, I don't work for an employer that requires me to do it.

It also depends on the company culture: I found it demeaning because it was a symptom of the way I was treated generally and as I said, I was bullied. No doubt it's all different if your company is lovely.

Wouldn't fancy working for Freshmint though. Not servile enough.

Suncottage Thu 10-Feb-11 22:10:43


My role is varied but the knock on effect when I or my female colleagues have been asked to make beverages is huge. One of us leaves our desk, another takes over her desk/phone/takes messages/delegates/gets given short shrift by the chairman because the stand in does not have access to his diary (deep, dark secret). Another further up is taking on the overspill of calls etc etc.

Frequently these guys have meetings in a coffee room next to the bloody kettle which is on the first floor.

If they have lost the recipe for tea and coffee they should not be doing the bloody job they are being paid a six figure salary to do.

I won't do it - I am on the same footing professionally as the guys and they are never asked, why should I be different?

Suncottage Thu 10-Feb-11 22:12:16

Sorry - bit of a rant there blush

Scratch a woman and find a rage grin

magicmummy1 Thu 10-Feb-11 22:40:13

I'm the boss at work. Don't have a pa but a pool of administrators, and I would expect any one of them to make drinks for visitors. I would be pretty pissed off if any of them had an attitude about it tbh. The administrators are both male and female, and it has never occurred to me to treat them any differently.

As for my own drinks, I usually get them myself, but I love it when people offer, especially on the days when I just don't have the time to do it myself. It's a small, thoughtful gesture which is very much appreciated. I don't think it's demeaning - just considerate on the part of the person who offers.

Fwiw, I quite often make drinks for our receptionists if I'm going to the kitchen, as I know that they can't always get away from the front desk to do it themselves. I don't regard myself as being above making a cup of tea at all, but I'm damned if I'm going to leave important guests sat waiting in my office while I start bumbling around in the kitchen!

Op - yanbu to dislike making drinks, but you would bu to let this show, or worse, to get arsey about doing this!

LadyOfTheManor Thu 10-Feb-11 22:41:50

I just presumed all receptionists/secretaries/Pas, call yourselves what you will did things like;

answer the phone
send generic emails
make tea for the people who you work for
file things
tidy your desk
hide the mistress from the wife

Tigerbomb Thu 10-Feb-11 22:56:20

Crikey, what's so hard?

I was a PA to 5 Chief Engineers and regularly made them teas and coffees all day.

We had a drinks machine but tbh it was nasty so I had no problem with making it.

I didn't consider it servile at all. The clue was in my job title - Personal Assistant.

porcamiseria Thu 10-Feb-11 23:03:59


I know what you mean, makes you feel like a med men type 60s PA

but part of role I am afraid! someone has to do it, and its usually the PA/coord/receptionist that it falls on

huddspur Thu 10-Feb-11 23:05:33

If they are in discussions with clients, they can hardly say excuse me whilst I go and make the tea. Just have a chat with the secretary.

twirlymum Thu 10-Feb-11 23:14:15

The company I work for has a tea round. Twice a day. With chocolate biscuits on Fridays.
There are over three hundred people in the building, and every single one of them (if they want it) has two hot drinks made for them. In Wedgewood cups!

expatinscotland Thu 10-Feb-11 23:16:38

I liked it because it's an excuse to skive away from my desk.

But mostly I worked for big firms or corporations that had contracts with catering companies so for meetings you just had to let the room booker know what you'd need.

Damn, no way to run away and hide for a bit.

That's why I had no probs getting tea/coffee for colleagues .

expatinscotland Thu 10-Feb-11 23:25:45

It's a glass half empty/full thing. You see it as humiliating, I see it as an excuse to get off my desk, string it out, have a natter, sneak a book into a file folder and read it in between 'setting up', etc.

Monty27 Thu 10-Feb-11 23:28:10

I'm lucky I work in senior admin and we have catering facilities albeit I'm responsible for ordering refreshments. I'm also lucky that my senior managers would never dream of asking me to make them tea. If they wanted tea they'd probably ask me if I wanted one and vice versa.
What's the matter with some people. angry

peasandlove Thu 10-Feb-11 23:34:13

I went for an interview for a PA role. It was a government role, and the Minister was very old school. He told me during the interview he liked his 'secretaries' to wear skirts, no trousers, and he liked them to make his tea in a teapot, bring it in, leave the room while the tea brewed, then come in and pour it for him. He also insisted on being called Mr Soandso and his colleagues should also be called Mr or Mrs whatever.

thank god I didnt get that role grin

Monty27 Thu 10-Feb-11 23:36:38

Peasandlove - grin

spill the beans

Dozer Fri 11-Feb-11 00:09:41


Livinginoz Fri 11-Feb-11 01:02:13

YABU. Its part of your job.

Just be thankful that you don't have all the additional "duties" I have - taking flowers to the boss's apartment, food shopping for his new year's eve party and picking up his mum's dry cleaning.

I do it happily because I am his Personal Assistant and if I wanted to be a senior manager, maybe I should have worked harder at university! grin

scottishmummy Fri 11-Feb-11 01:14:53

as pa you facilitate meetings inc refreshments.

the participants certainly you do it
chop chop

jimper Fri 11-Feb-11 06:20:00

Yeah, I really hated it - and once nearly spilt it all over a very rude cabinet member. Thankfully I had a great boss - although he expected the best when he had meetings he would always offer to make tea/coffee for me at other times - made it much more bearable!

kissncuddle Fri 11-Feb-11 06:40:46

Where I worked only one of the Directors had his PA make coffee/tea.

Our work had one of those fancy big coffee machines so staff loved trying to out do themselves with espressos.
And often staff would take their guests and have a natter about stuff while coffee was made.

There was actually a really senior guy that always used to turn up late and meet with my boss, I always made him an espresso as he liked the strong potent ones I made. He was a lovely old soul and I loved having a 2 minute chat with him.

I was never asked to make a tea/coffee but we had some caterers and I was a manager.

I never offered to make tea or coffee generally but did often buy my team coffees. I was also often offered drinks but did not take people up on the offer.

onceamai Fri 11-Feb-11 06:53:01

OP - don't be silly. In my first (and last PA job in the City - I got promoted) I did the following:

Made tea
Bought lunch
Sewed on buttons
Arranged flowers
Paid domestic bills
Made sure nothing was too much trouble for 2 years.

In return I got:

To run the syndicate desk (first step to becoming a bond dealer)
Glasses of champagne
To write little columns for a publicaton
To meet the movers and the shakers in the sector
The odd afternoon off when I needed it

Don't you think you need to get over yourself a bit.

kissncuddle Fri 11-Feb-11 06:55:05

But the OP is still making tea and coffee but she is just saying here that she does not like it.

You got promoted because you made tea and made sure nothing was too much trouble.

Do you still make tea as a bond dealer for everyone?

onceamai Fri 11-Feb-11 07:53:48

Gave up being a bond dealer when we had the DC but it was a man's world and I dealt with a lot of ribaldry with very good humour. And yes, I did do the tea and coffee run for my desk just like everyone else. Changed career and am HR manager now and everytime I go to the canteen always ask if anyone else wants anything and am perfectly happy to make a cup of tea for any member of staff who needs to chat about something that's troubling them.

kissncuddle Fri 11-Feb-11 08:31:55

Cool, just wondered. grin Sounds like a fascinating role but being HR Manager must be interesting too. You sound like you have had really excellent career progression. Moving from a PA to those other positions is a real achievement.

expatinscotland Fri 11-Feb-11 09:06:33

The best ever was when I got to go to pick up my partner's cracking Beemer at the garage and drive it back to the office car park.

Man, that rocked!

But yeah, I paid her bills, ran errands for her (including getting to pick up gorgeous ball gowns at Jenner's), even bought presents for her family (more fun, spending money that's not mine!), wrote out Xmas cards, even spray-tanned her in the ladies' as she dashed off to some function.

It's a PA job - you're a lackey for money. Take the rough with the smooth.

PenguinArmy Fri 11-Feb-11 09:13:28

There's a line between helping the person in their job and being their personal slave. Just because people do things like get their shopping, keep their wives sweet etc. doesn't make it right. It smacks of chauvinism to me.

expatinscotland Fri 11-Feb-11 09:24:25

How is it chauvinism? I've been a PA only for women (been a legal secretary for men and women and guess what? Still had to organise catering/tea and coffee for meetings).

But it's 'personal assistant'. My job, for which I was paid a healthy amount of money, was to make her life run more smoothly. I was given ample leeway to do this, it's not like any of making her life easier came out of my own pocket. It was not hard.

But it's not the job for the OP, because she sees it as humiliating and is taking it personally.

You can't do that with one of these jobs.

I can't say I minded coordinating her schedule, arranging meetings and making sure everything was just so before the meeting began, buying presents, things like that because it was my job.

One word of advice to her, though: don't go into hospitality work. If you find this humiliating, you ain't seen nothing yet!

northerngirl41 Fri 11-Feb-11 21:57:52

It's definitely not chauvinism - I've had several PAs who are men and I expected them to do all the same things I expected the women to do.

And the reason that the "personal" part is included in the job title is because you will be doing things which do not come under the job description of secretary because your boss needs you to do the things which they cannot given that their job will gazump large chunks of personal time. So that will mean buying Christmas presents, doing the food shopping, booking the cleaner, taking my car in for its service... Because otherwise these personal tasks take priority over the job.

Do you remember a few years ago when Liam Gallagher from Oasis cancelled his US tour because he "had to go and buy a house". That's what happens when the personal side of looking after VIPs slides - they take their eye off the ball and screw everything up.

frgr Fri 11-Feb-11 22:19:06

I cannot believe some of the responses on here, if i ever found out our Office PA thought the same thing she'd be out on her rear

i've been at meetings where (as some of you are calling it) "more junior" employees are present with external clients - some of you seem to think that despite them all being in a collective meeting to plan a project that they should take time out of their day to set up the meeting room, bring in drinks etc - absolutely shocking waste of employee time

there's a reason why we pay the PA X grand a year, and the business analysts X*3 a year. there's no need to be rude, or demanding about it, but part of a PA role is to SUPPORT other roles. making tea and setting up meeting rooms is part of that.

get over yourself, OP

sausagerollmodel Fri 11-Feb-11 22:20:01

I was a secretary/PA for about 10 years. I went through an an uppity phase where I thought it was beneath me, but it passed. I now think making tea and coffee for meetings is one of a PA's duties so YABU to object. Who else is going to do it? PA means "Personal Assistant" so your job is to help your boss do his/her job to the best of their ability so they use their time in the most effective way.
Where I would draw the line would be if the boss expected me to make ALL their teas and coffees throughout the day so YANBU to object to this! I had one boss who would phone and ask me to make her a cup of tea. My office was 2 flights of stairs away from hers. It drove me mad! Needless to say I didn't stay long in tthat job.
I would also object to being asked to do non-work related stuff like collecting dry cleaning or buying the boss's wife/husband's birthday present! You are your boss's personal assistant AT WORK.
Think of it as a chance to get away from your desk and meet the important visistors!
Most cringeworthy moment of my PA career: a visitor to my boss's office asked for a coke in a meeting. There was a coke machine in the building and I offered to get him one. I asked if he wanted normal or diet coke. He asked: "Do I look as if I need diet coke?!" He was rather overweight. I just didn't know what to say - I was just offering him the choice. blush

sausagerollmodel Fri 11-Feb-11 22:30:59

"As an EA to a v.v.v.v important bloke in the city told me once early on in my career, "don't think that just because you support someone important that makes you someone important.""
This reminds me of a TV comedy sketch - was it the Fast Show? (Loved the Fast Show!) "I'm very very important ...but you're not." grin

How to motivate your employees. NOT. shock Good bosses should acknowedlge that they couldn't achieve so much without their assistants...

expatinscotland Sat 12-Feb-11 14:32:12

See, I didn't mind doing the personal stuff. I found it fun, actually, getting someone's credit card and buying people gifts. I loved to buy for clients, too. Wicked, especially if you work for a big firm and you get vendors sending you samples of their goods (to buy for your clients, of course). Lots of yummy stuff!

Ditto if you're checking out a new venue or caterer. Free tasty food!

And Christmas cards. I enjoyed that, too. Getting to order swanky ones, surfing stationary sites at work, getting samples of those, too, for my boss to select which one he/she wanted.

My bosses were always giving me stuff they'd got as gifts, too, including vouchers.

tholeon Sat 12-Feb-11 16:28:54

I made tea for guests when I was a PA and I didn't mind that at all. When it was just my boss and I in the office we took turns to make it for each other, even though he was the Chief exec.

What I didn't like was people thinking that because I was a PA I 'just' made the tea along with a bit of typing and phone answering. I didn't: I drafted letters for my boss in the style he would write them himself, typed minutes in a way that got all the salient points and didn't make the directors spend half the next meeting arguing over them, dealt diplomatically with clients and sorted out a variety day to day issues without my boss having to get involved in them. I'm not saying it was like the bosses role, of course it wasn't, but there was more to doing it, particularly doing it well, than I think people sometimes assume.

Bumblequeen Sat 12-Feb-11 17:01:31

Some interesting points made about looking at the upside of this role and the opportunities it brings.

Think I want a change in career, bit difficult in the current climate. I have a Media Studies degree and found it near impossible to push into this field so fell back on my skills in administration.

expatinscotland Sat 12-Feb-11 17:07:43

How about retraining whilst you continue to work in this role? It might give you something more positive to focus on until you can change careers.

Bumblequeen Sat 12-Feb-11 17:11:41

Sausagerollmodel- how rude of your ex boss? Your importance should not lay with the job you have. However in most workplaces people tend to treat you according to your role/pay grade.

In my current place of work a middle manager was advised by her line manager NOT to lunch with an Admin Assistant as it may be detrimental to her career. They are long term friends and do not work in the same team. What an awkward position for this person to be in.

Bumblequeen Sat 12-Feb-11 17:13:33

Expatinscotland- I am currently looking at in house courses.

Derbs99 Wed 13-Jul-11 23:54:23

I feel I have to give my 2 pence worth even though it's an old thread. It is not part of anyone's job to make drinks unless it explicitly says so in their job description. A PA is not as some seem to think here an assistant for personal matters (unless you are hired to exclusively manage a person's personal life and are paid by this individual out of their own pocket). In a workplace, PA stands for being an assistant to one person, thus 'personal'. A PA or secretary is an administrative professional whose job is to assist an individual with their workload, not to make sure their are hydrated, fed, and clothed, these are the basic needs any civilised person would take care of themselves. Tea consumption is hardly part of your boss's part description, therefore, why should you relieve them of this? It is indeed serville to make teas and coffees for someone. It only takes a couple of minutes to sort out your own drink, why do you need somebody else to do it for you? You are the one who is a snob and you think it's menial for you to make your own drink, otherwise you wouldn't be expecting it from your assistant. As some suggested bosses and non-admin workers are too busy and are paid too much to do it, how about they pause their internet browsing and booking personal holidays - this would free them up to make their drink? To those who said they make coffees for their subordinates and take turns in tea rotas - well done to you, how often do you actually have to do it? I bet not every day or even every week, so no wonder you don't mind it and call others snobs for not wanting to do it. I am personally yet to see a boss that will make coffee for me, or even a team that does such rotas, lucky you! I've however been in a job in an admin role where I was supposed to make teas for the whole team as well as the boss and visitors. There were other junior employees, but they weren't administrative workers. So, how come I was more suitable than them for this task? As for the drinks for meetings and guests - why offer them?Unproductive and inefficinet. It's not a caffee and to be productive in a meeting you aren't supposed to be gulping your tea and munching your buiscits. And yes, if you have a guest or two, and if you feel you must offer them a hot drink - go and spend 2 minutes doing it yourself. Nobody should be expected to make drinks or prepare food for their boss, especially so PAs who are often far more overloaded and do much more than their boss for a fraction of the boss's money. What a waste of time and how unproductive to have tea rounds - just make your own drink whenever you need it and stop wasting your own and other people's time for which you are paid by the company.

I'm a PA. I'm not a fucking servant. My job is much more complicated that 'making their lives easier'.

We have a catering company that does this, thankfully. Occasionally I am asked to make tea/coffee for an impromptu meeting, and this is fine. The problem with doing something like making tea/coffee and cleaning up afterwards is that it takes time away from doing my actual job

"you are a PA
if you don't want to make coffee get another job
it is not beneath you. it is part of a secretary's job"

Off you fuck. I'm not a secretary hmm

Derbs99 Thu 14-Jul-11 00:00:51

Tholeon: You didn't mind it because you probably didn't have much to do, were bored, and glad when any task came in. What you should have done instead, was to take some workload off your boss. When you are a busy, hardworking, efficient PA with a ton of important stuff to do, you will not be excited about the opportunity of tea making.

"I haven't read all the posts. Isn't a PA just a secretary to one person instead of many? Aren't secretaries supposed to do as is asked of them by their superior? Don't all secretaries have to make tea and coffee?"

No. They are difference roles. A PA role tends to be far more involved than a secretarial role.

"I just presumed all receptionists/secretaries/Pas, call yourselves what you will did things like;"

Oh my GOD this thread is offensive. I'm not a receptionist. Some of you need to get a grasp that they are very very different job roles.

"OP - don't be silly. In my first (and last PA job in the City - I got promoted) I did the following:

Made tea
Bought lunch
Sewed on buttons
Arranged flowers
Paid domestic bills
Made sure nothing was too much trouble for 2 years.

In return I got:

To run the syndicate desk (first step to becoming a bond dealer)
Glasses of champagne
To write little columns for a publicaton
To meet the movers and the shakers in the sector
The odd afternoon off when I needed it

Don't you think you need to get over yourself a bit."

Well, I've got a proper PA role that doesn't involve acting like Mummy to a CEO hmm

sewing on buttons? Seriously????

Oh FFS... Derbs, no wonder I'm talking to myself here, don't bump old threads.. argh.

threefeethighandrising Thu 14-Jul-11 00:38:33

The CEO at my own place would often make coffee, including for us and his visitors.

I was happy to offer to make teas and coffees for him.

The CEO at my new place can't even make a coffee for himself if he wants one, he asks for it to be made for him, by me or whoever's passing.

Guess who I respect more?

Cloudbase Thu 14-Jul-11 00:54:05

Jareth I feel your pain. I've been a PA, which was extremely challenging and interesting, and a Receptionist, which was a completely different role. As a PA, I was treated as an integral part of the team, and with a huge amount of respect. Perhaps I was just lucky. I did organise catering for meetings, but it was part of my job description.

Interestingly, as a receptionist in a radiology dept in the NHS, I got to know all the team (Consultants, nurses, technicians etc) really well as I processed all the referals and booked all the scans, as well as running the clinics. Then one of them told me that the Clinical Director had taken them to one side and advised that they should spend less time talking to me and more time with people on 'their own level' shock. I imagine it is this sort of archaic attitude that grates with the OP. Admin=Oompa Loompa. It's still really prevalent.

I still work in admin in a hospital, but in a co-ordinator role. I still make coffees for the 3 doctors that I work for in our weekly meetings, but nowadays have perfected the art of sweeping my arm gracefully across at the rest of the attendees, and with a dazzling smile, say "Do help yourself to tea and coffee". Works a treat.

It's the old idea that men need a woman at work to help them with their job, and that they're incapable of making frigging coffee.

(I work for women as well as men, I'm PA to several people and it's very very busy and stressful, I don't have time to make sodding coffee!) Luckily I no longer work in an environment where women are seen as servants.

Just seems to me that the secretary/PA is traditionally seen as a very subservient role and therefore you should just do whatever is asked of you by your employer. Making their life easier is definitely the role of a PA, and this definition is open to a wide description, but a decent PA is normally paid a fairly decent wage, and the role should be clearly set out in the job description.

Should point out that I've never had the collecting dry-cleaning/sending flowers/buying wife presents kind of role. I'd sooner shoot myself in the head.

Cloudbase Thu 14-Jul-11 01:24:04

Hear Hear.

Sadly though, that attitude is not just confined to the workplace. While I was a receptionist, a (now ex) friend of mine explained helpfully that when she was telling her new boyfriend about me "I didn't tell him what you did for a living, because I didn't want him to get the wrong idea about the sort of person you were". WTF????

FabbyChic Thu 14-Jul-11 06:16:45

You come across as thinking that making tea is a chore that you are too good for.

It's part and parcel of any job not just a PA's.

cumbria81 Thu 14-Jul-11 06:25:33

YANBU. I am a PA and FUCKING HATE making tea and coffee. I know it's part of the job (although not explicitly stated) but I feel like a maid and I don't drink tea and coffee myself so invariably mess it up.

The amount of times a day I get sent down to the coffee bar to buy coffees for everyone too winds me up. I just get back to my desk, try and start work, and someone else asks me to go.

MumblingRagDoll Thu 14-Jul-11 06:41:20

I hate it when I'm offered coffee in a meeting...I'm a writer and sometimes have meetings in offices where all the executives are assembled to talk to me about how their company should be represented...they're always men and then a woman...usually older and better paid than me, will be sent for my coffee and I find it embarrassing for some reason.

FreudianSlipper Thu 14-Jul-11 07:41:04

i do not think yabu

i used to work as a pa, then an ea slightly different title wink to a very senior manager in the city and it was not part of the job to make him drinks he did not expect it unless guests were in and they were in a meeting, often he would take them off for coffee or if he knew them well they would make their own drinks, if drinks/lunch needed to be set up i had a junior secretary so she used to do it but i would hate asking, she didn't seem to mind, if she was busy/away i would do it and yes i did hate it

i am glad i am out of that job to be honest, money was very good and i enjoyed it for a while but the pandering to less senior demanding egos i could not do anymore (i think this depends on what sort of company you work for)

i think it is a bit old fashioned for a pa to be getting their boss his drinks, i did in previous roles but my last role it was a different set up and he didn't expect it, i had more important things to do like sort out his holidays, wine collection, homes insurance uk residency the list was endless

Becky99 Thu 14-Jul-11 07:58:08

Is it because the Director's a man that you struggle?

NestaFiesta Thu 14-Jul-11 08:03:25

YABU OP. I was a PA before having my kids. After an 5 year career break I can't wait to make tea and coffee for grown ups who won't drop it on the floor or need a wet wipe. No job is beneath me at home so no job is beneath me at work.

After picking nine pieces of poo out of my son's bath the other day, making coffee in a nice office kitchen that I don't have to mop afterwards will be a huge luxury and I can't wait.

FreudianSlipper Thu 14-Jul-11 08:11:02

ooops shoudl have said his or her drinks .... the boss could be female. sadly came across very few sad actually none in my last role shock

NestaFiesta Thu 14-Jul-11 08:17:32

My favourite ever boss was female and I often offered to fetch her a tea as i noticed she hadn't had a drink for a while. Nothing to do with gender or expectation. We still exchange birthday and Christmas cards.

noviceoftheday Thu 14-Jul-11 08:39:53

My PA is fantastic. Not only is she great at organising my work life but she just takes care of me. If I have a day of back to back meetings she will text me as she arrives at the office to check if I have had breakfast and get me some if not, she always offers to get me lunch if I am working through it and teas magically appear. During my pregnancies she was my rock in the office, particularly in the early part when I was so nauseous. As she goes beyond her job description in taking care of me, I make darn sure that I treat her well - not only in terms of salary and bonus but personal things like nice presents at xmas, birthday, easter and PA day. When she got married I paid for her and all her bridesmaids to have hair, nails and makeup done on the day as well as a present. I do that because she makes my life easier and if she didn't do all the little extras, I am not sure I would be so bothered. I guess its a 2 way street.

Allinabinbag Thu 14-Jul-11 08:48:14

Why is getting the tea/coffee beneath you? I fetch them when we have visiting guests and professors and I am not a PA. It would be incredibly rude to leave a guest without a cuppa/coffee.

This is just one of those issues that causes real indignation, I don't know why, our administrator at work used to huff and puff putting out the teas/coffees for meetings, feeling it was really beneath her, but much of the rest of her job was just things like signing for packages, typing things in a spreadsheet, hardly rocket-science, yet she was constantly on a mission to prove she was too good to do the teas...

No-one is too good to do the teas...

Was a PA for two years, not at a "high" level but pretty busy.

Teas... coffees... drycleaning... personal business... changing clothing they didn't like... sourcing accessories for their outfits... walked the dog.... I assumed it was part of the role and quite enjoyed the variety of that along with having a lot of involvement and often input on big important things too.

Having said that it did grate when I was thinking I had studied three years at university and two at a HE college before that and the sole acknowledgement of my achievements was that I make "a lovely cup of tea", so I do see where you're coming from. Maybe time for a move into a more independent role?

exoticfruits Thu 14-Jul-11 09:00:45

I can't see a problem-unless you have a 'tea lady' whose job would it be?

Nowtspecial Thu 14-Jul-11 09:52:45

In my first job one of my duties included making drinks for meetings, we often had temps in who would take over if I was busy. The all male management staff had no problem asking the temps to do this, until the day we got a male temp, apparently some of them didn't feel comfortable asking a bloke to get them a cuppa. Bah. ( Late 1980's ).

Orbinator Thu 14-Jul-11 10:00:31

I've worked in many different jobs and was an EA in Australia for the Government. I had to sent up teas/coffees and refreshments there.

Likewise when I worked in other offices solicitors being paid well over £250ph would make themselves and their clients drinks.

Basically you can choose to take offence at this and become agitated and fed up or you can just accept that making a drink for other people comes down to no more or less than courtesy. I'm sure your boss and other members of your team think no less of you for doing it, although they will undoubtedly have problems with you refusing to do it!

HPonEverything Thu 14-Jul-11 10:43:35

The thing I used to hate the most about making drinks for other people (especially for the boss) was that I have a terrible problem with nerves and my hands shake.

I remember once taking a boss a cup of tea, going into his office, about to set it on the desk and just KNOWING that it was going to tip over across all his papers. I had to retreat my hand and just stand there holding it til I composed myself enough to know I could put it down. He looked at me like I was some kind of lunatic and must have been thinking "what the bejeesus are you doing just standing there, give me my goddamn tea woman"

Monty27 Thu 14-Jul-11 10:47:48

I think it's demeaning to be expected to do refreshments because you're a lower grade...

They don't expect it where I work, luckily.

lesley33 Thu 14-Jul-11 10:52:40

If your hands shake YANBU. But tbh I don't understand people who think making tea is beneath them and humiliating. All of my staff will offer to make tea for any visitors we have - I'm the boss. If no-one is around or available I make it. It really is no big deal.

riverboat Thu 14-Jul-11 10:53:34

When I did admin work I didn't mind sorting out coffee and tea if it was requested and arranged in advance and I could leave it all set up in the room before people arrived.

What I HATED was when the director would stick her head round the office door and ask for stuff at the last minute because she was too "busy" to sort it out herself. (She was just the most unorganised person ever and made a huge show of being permanently overworked). That, was just demeaning and I hated having to drop whatever I was doing to get what she wanted and then carry it into her meeting like a waitress.

YANBU, but team coffees are something else, it's totally different sorting out teas and coffees for people you work with when there is no power structure involved IMO.

Bonsoir Thu 14-Jul-11 11:06:17

Why does anyone make tea or coffee for other people these days? There are fabulous self-service machines on sale...

BobMarley Thu 14-Jul-11 12:37:36

Wow. Nothing like a discussion about making tea in an office to reveal lots of chips on shoulders from PAs/secretaries/whatevers AND their bosses!

scottishmummy Thu 14-Jul-11 12:41:36

i go to a meeting i get tea
don't care who makes it - so long as someone does

catgirl1976 Thu 14-Jul-11 12:59:23

I like the fact my PA WANTS to make sure I am supported - its her job and that includes making tea / coffe, making sure I have lunch, picking up dry cleaning and anything else. I my PA found that "demeaning" I would think she really ought to look for a different career. I wouldn;t want a PA who didn't want to do her job / thought she was "too good" to stick a kettle on.

MrSpoc Thu 14-Jul-11 13:01:48

Ha ha this reminds me of that horrid woman on the apprentice. She works for a big PR Firm, sits right at the top, and is all important. What is her job? A P.A

Look part of as P.A's job is to make tea & coffee for the boss and guests. Also to pick up dry cleaning, sorting out meetings, diaries etc. You are not any better than other people in the office, including the fucking cleaner.

I am an M.D of my own business, we take turns making the brews, i would expect anyone of my team to welcome guests and offer a drink even if it aint in their J.D, Its all about working as part of a team.

fgaaagh Thu 14-Jul-11 13:06:22

Woah there.

Re-read the OP, folks.

She said:

I really do not like having set out teas and coffees for the Directors external guests.
I DO NOT make refreshments for the Director as it is not required as part of my role.
My colleagues on the other hand do not seem to mind making teas for the team.

She is talking about:
- a PA who is expected to set up meetings with external clients, inc. tea/coffee
- not making them for her boss
- a team of (I assume equivalent level employees) making tea rounds for each other.

AT NO POINT did the OP mention "my boss expects me to make him his drinks".


If you don't set up the meetings when clients come in, with drinks etc. - who is? Your boss? It doesn't make sense to be paying them twice as much as you and have them buggering around with that sort of stuff - that's why you're the PA and he's the boss.

honestly, the mind boggles - a PA who doesn't want to make any drinks for meetings and doesn't want to take part in the tea rounds with other employees at her level.

seasidesister Thu 14-Jul-11 13:07:16

Used to be a PA in the city and I understand where you are coming from. Its a status thing really.

However, its part of the role. I retrained and do something entirely different now. Best thing I ever did. It sounds like you are ready to move on tbh.

Poledra Thu 14-Jul-11 13:33:10

There is another aspect to this - when I have visitors into my office, I cannot leave them alone in there to go get them a drink. Quite honestly, if they need the loo, I have to escort them to the toilets and wait for them outside the door. Fortunately, my assistant is perfectly happy to fetch a cup of coffee/tea for my visitor from the (rather nice) machine along the corridor.

melika Thu 14-Jul-11 13:39:35

I am company secretary of a small business, I make drinks for anyone, van driver, customers to accountant, I see it as courtesy.
I also clean the office and loo. I will do almost anything to keep things going. (Have shovelled dog poo from the entrance!).

I do not mind at all, it makes for better business in the end.
And... I am reaping the benefits of it!

azazello Thu 14-Jul-11 14:00:33

Its one thing for PAs to not want to make tea for their boss only as part of their day to day role, although I have never worked in an office where anyone does anything other than take turns (and yes, I do make teas for the other people in my office on a several times a day basis). I do think it is completely unreasonable to get chippy about not making teas and coffees for meetings.

For example, if you're a solicitor having a meeting with a client, you will be charging the client a lot of money for that meeting. The client would therefore be justifiably very pissed off if half the time is spent with the solicitor making him a cup of coffee.

In my current job, people tend to have back to back meetings all day, so I often get a 30 -45 minute time slot to deal with 90 minutes work. If I have to spend 20 minutes of that making tea because the team PA didn't want to provide the basic stuff, I would not be a happy bunny.

knittedbreast Thu 14-Jul-11 14:22:34

i was asked to make tea at work once, i just said no sorry i dont drink tea wouldnt have a clue how to make it. I can get you an orange juice if you like.

cue dirty looks, its not my job to make tea. I dont drink tea. so i dont make tea.

but thats me

aquashiv Thu 14-Jul-11 14:23:36

I had PA like this. One of her first statements was I don't make drinks. We are a small hands on company and when she could see it wasnt an indication that she was beneath us or expected of her she just got on with it. Though her coffee was bloody rank. I think the trick is to make it so bad you wont be asked again.

NoobyNoob Thu 14-Jul-11 14:25:54


I too was in a position like your before I had my son, it was a right PITA - but TBH I expected it. There really was no-one else to do.

knittedbreast Thu 14-Jul-11 14:26:57

yes there was nooby, there was any other worker in the business.

lurkerspeaks Thu 14-Jul-11 14:37:04

I'm horrified that someone in a support role considers 'giving support' not to be her job.

I haven't PA'd for a long time (temp'd while at Uni) but I regarded pretty much anythign as being my job - drycleaning, coffee/tea, sourcing some random ornament for your bosses Mother's birthday.... all in my role.

Where I work now (I'm middle management ) we all chip in with tea/coffee/lunch running but if I'm having a hideous day I expect one of the more junior staff to help me out by getting me lunch or a coffee.

eurochick Thu 14-Jul-11 14:39:10

I see this from the other side of the coin. I work in a smallish firm and when I have meetings my PA has to set up the room. My meetings often go on all day, meaning she has to come in with top ups and lunches. It makes me feel a bit awkward. Previously I worked at larger firms with dedicated catering staff which was much easier.

I always make sure I thank her for doing it and would never get to her to get me drinks outside of meetings but it is obvious we are both uneasy with it.

Pendeen Thu 14-Jul-11 14:39:36

YABU - although I don't believe it's unreasonable to object to being regarded as the tea lady just because of gender.

When I was on my part 1 'year out' training, the (all male) office used to expect me to always make the coffees and teas no matter how busy I was. Not helped by the fact that at that time I looked very young for my age (21) but even so it rankled

And don't get me started on the attitudes displayed by the builders when I went out on site!

FakePlasticTrees Thu 14-Jul-11 14:56:45

Just seen this has come back to life!

There's a lot of different jobs that come under 'PA' or 'EA' or 'Secretary' (never understand why anyone gets an arse on about being called a secretary, I'm happy to use any of those terms). Job specs are usually quite clear, and in interview you'd have to be pretty useless to not ask about the level of personal work expected.

I chose roles where I'm not expected to do a lot of personal work, so i don't do dry cleaning runs; I will do his project work filing, I don't touch his personal tax paperwork; I will sort out my boss' visa for a work trip, I wouldn't do that for a family holiday; I'll order flowers to be sent to a client, I wouldn't be asked to do that for his wife etc. However, if you are in a 1:1 role, making coffee for your boss' meetings is normal and not considered 'personal work'. Very few companies do have full catering staff to do this for every meeting.

fgaaagh Thu 14-Jul-11 15:01:24

knittedbreast If you were a client who has 45 minutes pencilled in for a 9am-9.45am appointment with a firm who charges by the 5 minute mark, would you be happy for the meeting holder to faff around for 5 minutes at the start getting the room set up, drinks made, computers connected, etc? Or would you expect the person to not be preparing the meeting beforehand and just take time out to do it, perhaps at 8.45am?

Genuine question btw.

If the PA doesn't do it, would you really see it as good business sense (as a client) to see or hear of the person you're paying £££s to for their expertise - for them to do it as part of their duties too?

What about as a manager?

Why would you pay someone 70k a year and have them waste 10 minutes of their day for a meeting setting the place up?

Utter, utter nonsense to run a business like that.

fgaaagh Thu 14-Jul-11 15:04:47

oh yes i say this as someone who works in such an office yet i still prepare the drinks/room for my own meetings, because it's a small ish team of a larger organisation and we have our own meeting/conference rooms because we meet a lot of clients.

i always use the 30mins before a meeting to set up as my "chill out" time, and i often practice my speech too, whilst i'm setting up. our larger conference room is quite far away from the canteen though, so i'm sure people think i'm talking to myself as i take stuff between the rooms to set up. oh well!

MrSpoc Thu 14-Jul-11 15:07:42

if my secretery refused to make tea/coffee they would be sacked. It is part of your job. Nothing worse than someone saying im a P.A and am better that the rest of the team because I work for the M.D

Orbinator Thu 14-Jul-11 20:38:15

It's all about helping a team/your boss to do their job as smoothly as possible. That is why you get paid less than them, it simply is true that your time and skills are less important. Sorry to be blunt, but otherwise you would be at the top of the food chain with your own PA to help with your every day tasks.

catgirl1976 Thu 14-Jul-11 20:52:00

Agree with Orbinator. You time costs less than your bosses time. That is why you make the tea and they don't. But a good PA would just be happy to do it because it is part of his / her role and they WANT to assist the person they are PA-ing to.

Monty27 Fri 15-Jul-11 13:07:14

Some people on here are so up themselves confused

I agree if its part of the job description and you've accepted the job, then you should do it.

But I don't see why someone should think you should do it because you're time costs less than their's.

For bosses with this attitude, good luck with your staff turnover.

scottishmummy Fri 15-Jul-11 13:14:22

simple economics.boss time cost more and is more significant than the pa
if boss is fee earner for example then making tea isnt best use of skills.boss better utilise her skills at her level and pa facilitates smooth meeting inc refreshments

dramafluff Fri 15-Jul-11 13:15:07

Completely reasonable to hate doing it, but too bad, part of the job. PAs are not 'above' making refreshments for their boss and guests however high flying they perceive themselves to be.

scottishmummy Fri 15-Jul-11 13:17:03

so dont take pa role if hate hospitality and and greet and smooth meeting is pivotal to pa role. pa is a significant role,and it includes refreshments

catgirl1976 Fri 15-Jul-11 18:01:13

You think it is good business practice Monty to have someone whose time costs say £150 per hour spend half an hour setting up for a meeting, rather than the PA whose time costs maybe £15 per hour and whose job it actually is?

My company doesn't and our staff turnover levels extremely low

michglas Fri 15-Jul-11 18:04:00

You don't sound like you're much of a team player, and perhaps should come down off your high horse a little

Agree with catgirl. The boss is paid more to do important stuff and the PA's job is to support him/her. That means making tea/coffee with a smile. After all, the PA is paid the same if she's daydreaming at the kettle or taking notes/whatever, so what's the problem?

Looking after your boss/another human being is rather nice, anyway. I enjoy making coffee for my mum on the rare occasions that I see her, for example. It's sad when people view it as demeaning.

catgirl1976 Fri 15-Jul-11 18:11:11

Well sadly at work I don't have time to "be a team player", nor am I paid to be one. Outside of work I will do anything for anyone, happy to buy the drinks, happy to make tea, coffee, scrub the loo or take out the bins.

At work - I do what they pay me to do and would get extremely short shrift if I was found hanging out in the tea room waiting for a kettle to boil.

aquos Fri 15-Jul-11 18:25:12

I haven't worked in the PA/secretary role for about 10 years.

The last post I had was supporting a team of 3 directors. All men, all well over 50. I did find the refreshment thing demeaning. Struggling into the boardroom with china, hot water, juice and biscuits. Trying to knock the door, open it and not drop the tray, all the time being ignored.

We had a new man join the director team, in his 40s. I was having a fraught day a few weeks after he'd joined the team. He spotted I was stressed and made me a cup of tea. He was called into one of the other directors offices and I overheard him being informed that " we don't make drinks here for the junior staff".

I left shortly after.

shock Human kindness not allowed?

catgirl1976 Mon 18-Jul-11 16:52:47

No profit in it smile So it's not encouraged no........

Monty27 Fri 22-Jul-11 10:29:21

I agree you should do what you're paid to do. As I say if you've accepted a job where teamaking etc is part of the role then you should do it, and with good grace. If its not specified as part of the role though I think a bit of give and take wouldn't hurt.

Bubblyjubblymummy Mon 22-Oct-12 14:12:21

Wow..what an old but interesting thread, I got eyeache reading most of them! I have to say I don't mind making the tea/coffee/wine whatever, I make damn good coffee too.
I was actually looking for people who work as a PA because It's something I'd like to do, it pays good money and I love working in plush offices in a sexy shift

GooseyLoosey Mon 22-Oct-12 14:18:47

I am a fairly senior lawyer but if I was with a senior partner in a meeting, I would ensure that I offered and poured the coffee and arranged for it to be there and filled it up if I needed to. I would also get up and do the photocopying and anything else that was required. The client is there to see him and I am there to support him. That is my role in that meeting.

Likewise, if I was in a meeting with junior collegues, I would expect them to do the same.

If I asked my secretary to support me and she refused, I would not be happy.

MardyBra Mon 22-Oct-12 14:20:26


<mutters: why do people do this?>

KellyElly Mon 22-Oct-12 14:27:24

I'm a PA and I've never had to do this. I have always worked for companies where I had a much more involved role - desk top publishing/editing/writing/membership etc and have usually had Admin Assistants below me to do this if necessary. Never really had to do dry cleaning either. When I was temping I did get asked to go to New Bond Street to get valentines presents for the directors wives - that was actually quite fun smile

catgirl1976 Mon 22-Oct-12 14:32:15

My PA makes my tea and coffee

I am not "too important" to do it, I am too bloody busy

catgirl1976 Mon 22-Oct-12 14:32:49

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh it's a zombie

Ih well

TalkinPeace2 Mon 22-Oct-12 15:56:21

The FUN bit of doing that job is the amount you can overhear ....

clusters of people from the visiting company will carry on the MOST CONFIDENTIAL conversation in front to the lady handing out coffees, forgetting that she might just have a brain.

I've had a splendid time then passing notes to members of my team that swung the meeting in unexpected directions.

That and one particular gang (who I knew to be sexist old gits) got the high heels, seamed tights treatment and told me LOTS of things they came to regret.

Adversecamber Mon 22-Oct-12 16:54:01

That is not that bad I had to buy fish heads for bosses cat, tea and coffee fine!

Joiningthegang Mon 22-Oct-12 17:04:36

You sound insecure to me - like you arent confident that people recognise your abilities and if you make tea it wont look good. I hope you dont accept hot drinks from others if you arent prepared to do your fair share.

Surely working together is exactly that, not avoiding jobs you feel are too menial for your status.

Bubblyjubblymummy Wed 24-Oct-12 22:34:33

Don't mean to wake up the zombie thread..but there is nothing like a lovely fresh filter coffee!

larks35 Wed 24-Oct-12 22:45:41

Bubbly "I was actually looking for people who work as a PA because It's something I'd like to do, it pays good money and I love working in plush offices in a sexy shift "

I'm pretty sure there is more to being a PA than wearing a shift dress and making a decent coffee. What else do you think you could offer? A friend of mine is a PA and making coffee (she makes me a fine one at home) and wearing shift dresses aren't in her job description.

Bubblyjubblymummy Wed 24-Oct-12 23:46:51

Larks35, I know that of course there is much more to the role of PA than just a pretty frock, contrary to what some people may think, I do have a brain which I do like to use!
I can also offer resourceful, organised, calm in a crisis (well with me it's more of a zoning out).
Well, that's it..thank you and goodnight!

lucyellenmum Wed 24-Oct-12 23:53:55

This is why i wouldn't be a PA. Not that im choosy like, but i do have a PhD, im struggling to find work but i just coudnt do that job. Don't get me wrong, im not fussy, im doing a cleaning job just now for minimum wage, i actually really enjoy it, but i don't have to cow tow to anyone.

As for the person who thought it was professional to do the high heels and seemed stockings to get ahead professionally? This is a zombie thread from this year, not 1950!

FreudiansGoldSlipper Wed 24-Oct-12 23:59:41

I only did this on a few occasions when some one who was very senior usually older came in and also for wanker director from the states

Why should I make tea it is not part or should not be part of a pa's job it is so old fashioned ot have a pa fussying about like a tea lady

I am no longer a pa smile

VenusRising Thu 25-Oct-12 00:02:22

I hate making tea and coffees for people as I have excema on my hands and I blister with the heat of the mugs - I like to keep my hands as dry and cool as I can.

I did work as the only female on a peer team once and I made a point of just making my own as the lazy sexist gits would sit around and wait for me to be "mother". I once made a pot of tea for them with cold water. They shifted their own lazy bums to make their own drinks after that. The sexism still rankles.

I prefer to work with women now, and we all ask if someone wants a coffee, if we are making one ourselves, but noone takes the piss, and uses it as a tool of subservience.

Jux Thu 25-Oct-12 08:01:03

I didn't mind really.

The way I saw it was that my boss cost 300 quid an hour and I cost, well, a lot less. One of us was going to make the coffee and it would be silly for someone costing 300 quid an hour to spend time that way. Sometimes my boss did do it, but generally not.

Bubblyjubblymummy Thu 25-Oct-12 11:43:01

VenusRising, what a fab name! Not being funny but how can you work in a female only enviornment?? I've been there, it was like being in a real ife adaptation of Rosemary's Baby.
Btw, love the tea made with cold water..very good!

VenusRising Thu 15-Nov-12 23:58:12

I started my own company and hired women Bubbly.
I used to work in an engineeringish field, but moved laterally to suit myself.

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