You’re the barrier to completing my tasks (you, not me)

I had the privilege of seeing Joan Burge once at an SDA EDSymposium. If you don’t know Joan, she’s the woman behind who is on a mission to inspire excellence and encourage administrative professionals to reach for the stars.  Every admin starting their administrative career needs a little help. Joan can certainly help. So can SDA, especially if you’re working in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry.

So anyway, here I am in Golden, Colorado to attend SDA’s EDSymposium15. It’s just a few hours before the Networking & Welcome Party gets under way. Time to relax a bit and check emails. I see the message in which Joan shared the link to replay the free webinar she offered (thanks for sharing, Joan!). So I take a minute to see what she has to say, and I notice that I can also see the webinar chat messages scrolling on the right-hand side. (Note to self: Check out Webinar Jam.)

One of those chat messages caught my eye. It said something like this, “When I ask my supervisor if this is a good time to speak to him, he tells me to come back in x-minutes later, but eventually he disappears for meetings and I don’t get a chance to speak to him.”

I’m sure a lot of administrators can relate to that—you need to check in with your manager on some task, but your manager isn’t always available.

One of Joan’s solutions to working well with your manager is to communicate with them. (She actually says that three times: Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.)

I’ve had that very same thing happen to me. Do you want to know what works? I’ll tell you what worked for me.

All I had to say was, “I can’t move forward on this task until you answer my questions.”

Saying that made him stop in his tracks. It was the magic statement that finally knocked on his head (Hello, McFly; anybody home?) and made him realize that he was a barrier to getting the tasks done that he wanted done.

That’s all it took for me. Just saying those magic words.

When I was supervising other admins, they would often knock on my cubicle asking if I had a minute. If I knew that I was on a deadline for my manager, I’d have to play out whether my staff was more important or whether my manager’s deadline was more important. In order to help me determine if I should allow my work to be interrupted, I’d turn those magic words back at them: “I’m on a deadline right now. If you can give me x-amount of time, I’ll stop by your desk. But tell me, do you need something from me right now that will help you move forward on a task? If so, you have my attention. If it’s something that can wait, I’d appreciate if we can talk a bit later so I can meet this deadline.”

That’s just one solution . . . think about the words (magic or not) that will help you help your manager spend the one-on-one time you need with your manager.

Sometimes it helps to hear from other experienced admins how they manage things at work. Joan is one of those resources. Check out Joan’s webinar for what she has to offer on working with your manager.