PAs/EAs - when you and your director don't gel

(13 Posts)
chockaholic72 Thu 30-Aug-18 19:21:04

I've been a PA and then EA for 20-odd years. Worked mainly at CEO level, for very different personalities but always got on well with them and had excellent references when I've moved on. A year ago my CEO left and I am really struggling with my new CEO. She finds fault with everything I do, compares me to her previous assistants, resists any attempt to organise her workload to the point where things are overdue and I get blamed. There is a lot of diary management, a lot of travel, which she never commits to until the last minute, so hotels, flights etc are always very expensive. I have never felt so disorganised at work and it's starting to have an effect on my health.

I think when a director and assistant start to work together there is always a bit of adjustment on both sides, but she's just not giving an inch. I love where I work but I have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, I am not sleeping, working late every night, and feel that I still can't do anything right. I don't enjoy my job and have completely lost confidence in myself. Would you just cut your losses? I don't want to leave but it's getting to the point where I'm almost in tears on the way to work in the mornings.

OP’s posts: |
user1499173618 Thu 30-Aug-18 19:22:25

Is there not someone in HR you can confide in?

user1499173618 Thu 30-Aug-18 19:24:10

But, yes, you should probably walk away from your current boss who sounds a nightmare! You won’t change her working style...

BlueJava Thu 30-Aug-18 19:27:42

I think your type of role depends so much on who you are working with. Personally I always try and help my PA and have a regular "how can we do it better" session in the beginning... I think you might have to thing about working for someone else and moving on. Maybe she is just a bit difficult.

TroubledLichen Thu 30-Aug-18 19:29:55

I’d start job hunting. I’ve been there where my boss has left I’ve been reassigned twice. Once it worked out brilliantly, the other time was a disaster, I didn’t get negative comments about my work as such but I was miserable and felt very isolated as we just weren’t a good fit. I got out of there sharpish by applying for an internal vacancy where I happily stayed for 2.5 years. Sounds like you have a great CV so I don’t doubt you’ll find something quickly, good EAs are always in demand so no point staying if you’re not happy.

maxelly Thu 30-Aug-18 19:41:37

Yup, it's always important to get on with your boss but I do think with the PA/EA relationship it is crucial you get on as you are so dependant on either other. There must be trust and a mutually agreeable way of working or its horrible for both people. I would look for another job as it's unlikely at her stage in her career she'll change the way she works, chaos and last minute is likely her MO.

In a past role a long time ago I managed the PA pool and there were so many instances of relationship clash, I well remember the misery. e.g. the PA to the long-standing Finance Director was moved to support the new man when the old one retired, after 20 years+ of her being one of our best performers and perfectly happy in her job she would be in my office in tears on a daily basis and the new finance director was storming around saying she was incompetent and constantly complained his diary was a mess, travel not sorted etc etc. I re-jigged things, moved her to support the Director of Ops, and brought in someone new for the finance director and everything was peachy again within a week (despite being younger than our old director the new one wanted his hand held and everything spelled out in big letters, a map of each destination printed before travel and pinned to his tickets etc whereas the PA was used to someone more self-sufficient). Also the new man was a bit of a dick (couldn't get rid of him sadly but I wasn't about to sack one of our best PAs on his say so!).

So don't blame yourself or doubt your competence, just start looking for a new role? Good PAs/EAs are always in demand, I'm sure you'll find something great!

HalfGreekBitch Thu 30-Aug-18 20:10:41

Oh poor you, I can’t imagine what that’s like, and I don’t know what the answer is apart from previous response of going to HR and / or talking to your boss to find out what has crawled up her behind and making her such a class A bitch. I always said if a boss ever makes me cry I would leave, easier said than done but as unfair as it is, I would seek a transfer or find a different job in your situation.
I’m a PA for a doctor and we have some very rich and famous patients, but I hazard a guess that the stressed out arsey PA’s I deal with work for bosses who are horrible and frankly there are lots of other nice bosses out there. (Sorry, not implying you’re not nice!)
Having said that, i am desperate for a change and want to change sector, I have considered temping in order to get a foot in and thought it’s a chance to find a boss you gel with. You sound highly experienced and competent and I bet you can find another position either within or out of your current employer. It’s not right that she gets away with this but your happiness and health is way more important. You do not deserve that constant Sunday night feeling. X

chockaholic72 Thu 30-Aug-18 21:19:55

Thanks all for feedback.

I don't feel able to go to HR - our HR manager is a real suck-up to the boss and I suspect it would get back. My CEO doesn't take suggestions on how to work better well - she takes it as criticism.
I think one of the main problems is that she is new to our industry and hasn't really made an effort to learn the business. She also has a very reactive, firefighting management style, so I can't do any forward planning, and end up looking incompetent. I feel like she is projecting her failures on to me.

Think it's time to get my CV up to date and see what's out there. Time for a fresh start.

OP’s posts: |
stressedoutpa Thu 30-Aug-18 21:36:12

Cut your losses.

IME poor boss/PA relationships do not improve they only get worse. This is already affecting your health.

You sound really competent perhaps you need to take a different path?

Margaurette Thu 30-Aug-18 21:47:53

I've been on the other side of this - I inherited a PA who had worked for someone else for ages, and it took us a while to work out what was important to one another.

For instance on the travel thing - it may not suite her to book in advance. As long as she knows the budget implications of this, let her be late.

Equally, there may be things that she's doing without thinking - let her known why you need them done in particular way, and she might be more focused on changing.

Or she might just be hopeless grin

chockaholic72 Thu 30-Aug-18 21:52:03

You know, I used to love the variety of being a PA/EA - word reports, proofreading, PowerPoint decks, but it seems that all I am doing now is diary, travel and expenses. I have been looking at legal document production roles, which look like they would take me back to my old skills. My typing speed is still shit-hot, but I would need to enrol at Pitman and upskill on Word and Excel, as well as doc conversion and a different type of audio transcription software than I'm used to, but that might be my ticket out of there.

OP’s posts: |
stressedoutpa Thu 30-Aug-18 22:06:47

You know, I used to love the variety of being a PA/EA - word reports, proofreading, PowerPoint decks, but it seems that all I am doing now is diary, travel and expenses.

Yes, me too! However, PA jobs are no longer what they were and most are just team admin roles nowadays. After changing to a particularly crap job at the start of the year I recently bowed out and I'm doing something completely different. I too had been a PA for almost 20 years with lots of CEO level experience.

Is it time for something completely different? Project management maybe?

Polarbearflavour Fri 31-Aug-18 14:31:35

My last job I worked with a female director and I couldn’t gel with her at all. I’ve only ever worked for men who I always got on well with! I am Facebook friends with them now!

This woman was just horrible. I only had to give a week’s notice so after four weeks working with her I did just that. smile As soon as I resigned, she stopped speaking to me and giving me tasks, so I had a very easy last week as I didn’t do any work!

I don’t intend to work as a PA/EA again. You are largely looked down on and given crap jobs. My last boss expected me to clean up after her as she was too superior to put her lunch in the bin or clean up spilt tea! You will always be “just” a PA to the wider team.

With ever increasing automation and job cuts, I’m not sure how many secretarial jobs will exist in a decade. The typing pool is long gone, several people now share an PA in many companies, and some roles have been outscourced abroad. A few City companies now use virtual assistants in Poland, India and Thailand.

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