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?

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

Freshmint
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.

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