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The Personal Assistant From Hell

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Author: Bill Lee-Emery

A friend of mine was going nuts. A hard working corporate athlete, he loved his job. He often worked long hours as part of the business culture and was rewarded well.

It's just that he never got a rest. It wasn't the company's fault. It was his brain that wouldn't leave him alone. It was almost as if it had a mind of its own. Three am was the favourite play time of his hyperactive partner. It didn't seem to matter that the poor guy had given his all during the day and most of the evening. This brain was on fire!

Over a cup of coffee we discussed his dilemma. Imagine having a personal assistant (PA) that was so zealous he/she wouldn't leave you alone. Sure, there's always plenty to do, things to remember and tasks to be done. That's what a PA can do for you. Organize and manage the details. But what would you do if this over zealous employee decided that business was so important that he/she followed you home, introduced themselves and sat quietly as you ate your evening meal with your family. By now you would be fielding questions from your puzzled spouse and children.

The questions would get more forceful and agitated as he/she watched TV with you, occasionally making notes and entering items into your diary. (But imagine you have convinced everyone this is just part of a new company management approach. Hmm. OK. That would require stretching most people's imaginings, but hey - it's just a story. Hang in there.)

Eventually the household settles down for a good night rest. Zzzzzzz z z zz zzzz Suddenly….at 3.00am, your over zealous PA yells in your ear about finishing some details of an important project! Arrrggghhh!

If, at that point, you didn't throw them down the stairs, across the hallway, out the door and into the garden, there's something wrong with you. No, just kidding. There is no need for violence here.

Fortunately for all, the lessons from a recent relaxation class kick in. You take some deep breaths and sit your conscientious zealot down for a chat. It's time to establish some rules.

  1. Remember who is the boss
  2. You work according to set hours
  3. I set the hours
  4. Please give me important information when I require it
  5. Ideas and reminders are welcome, however…
  6. If I am busy wait until the appropriate time to deliver them (P.S. 3.00 am is not an appropriate time.)
  7. You are only a 'phone' call away and I appreciate that
  8. I need to rest also so...
  9. Go home at the end of the day's work and
  10. Get some rest.

Remember, tomorrow will be there, waiting. Let's both be fresh!

Personal assistants can be invaluable. They are forever vigilant, meticulous with details and possess long memories. However, without guidance, they become the stuff of nightmares. If you need further help to deal with your over- zealous PA, email me before you lose too much more sleep!

About the author

Bill Lee-Emery is an Executive and Life Coach. He has been a corporate trainer and facilitator for over 20 years. Bill is author of 'Stop Procrastinating' and 'How to get out of your own way and play better golf!'

You can get his newsletter, 'On Track' by visiting his web site

You are welcome to reprint this article as long it remains unaltered and contains full attribution as follows:

© by Bill Lee-Emery 2004

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