How to onboard a personal assistant

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For a personal assistant, settling into a new job is not as simple as learning a company’s systems and processes, names and faces. A PA must also learn the working style and daily rhythms of their manager, and adapt to them.

Experienced PAs will understand this and be attentive from Day One, but a manager should also do what they can to aid the onboarding process, regardless of whether it’s a junior PA or a veteran. The quicker a PA can get in sync with their manager and feel like a valued part of the team, the better for the business and their working relationship.

How can a manager help to effectively onboard a new personal assistant? Our list of what should be included in employee onboarding for a PA will give you a solid foundation to work from.

Be clear about expectations

It’s important from the off for managers and their personal assistants to both have an agreed understanding of what is and isn’t expected of the relationship. On the first day, managers should be explicit about the remit of the PA role, including:

The widespread use of flexible working arrangements makes these questions all the more important. Without the shared space of an office defining working hours, work and personal time can become blurred, leading to potential burnout.

By clarifying these aspects of the relationship, a manager will help avoid misunderstandings, and set boundaries for both parties.

Have a schedule ready

It’s crucial that a personal assistant and manager have regular opportunities to catch up and coordinate. Rather than leaving this to chance, a manager should have a schedule ready from the first day.

This catch up will be different for each team – some managers may want to start every day off with a 9am one-to-one, while others will prefer or a weekly catch-up on a Friday to plan for the week ahead. Whichever option works for you, be sure to get it in the calendar immediately. This leads us to our next point.

Use the latest technology

Keeping on top of shared calendars has never been easier. Most phones, tablets and laptops now come with numerous built-in apps that can help coordinate schedules, so it’s best practice to supply a new personal assistant with their own work smartphone and laptop.

While you can get by with the built-in scheduling apps on these devices, there are dozens more online apps and software designed specifically to coordinate work teams. Using these multi-functional programmes, managers can set up shared calendars, project schedules, budget spreadsheets, and more within the same online space.

Some of the most effective apps and tools for personal assistants include:

Set KPIs

As well as agreeing what is within and without the remit of the personal assistant’s role, the first days of the role are a good chance to set key performance indicators (KPIs). These will give the PA a benchmark to keep in mind when doing their job and show them clear opportunities for career progression.

Some KPIs for personal assistants could be:

Partner your PA with a mentor

Due to the close working relationship between a manager and personal assistant, there’s a risk that a PA can feel isolated from the wider company. To avoid this, it’s useful for PAs to have a mentor or buddy.

A mentor can introduce a new PA to aspects of office life beyond their manager. This could include the company’s values, office dynamics, social events and employee benefits. By introducing a new PA to these aspects from their first day, you will immediately deepen their relationship with the company and their colleagues, fostering job satisfaction and loyalty.

Set up a support base

As well as providing them with a mentor, by introducing a new PA to other assistants within the company, you can give them a feeling of security and belonging. These other PAs will understand the challenges of the job, and be able to offer support and advice in the first days and beyond.

If there isn’t already, help set up a group chat on WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, Slack, or other communication app. This will allow for regular chat between peers, and will help newcomers get to know their fellow PAs, EAs and TAs.

Conclusion

If you follow best practice during the selection and recruitment process, you can secure a candidate with all the potential to be a fantastic personal assistant. But, the real work of building a rapport and a highly effective business relationship is only just beginning on the day they step into the office.

By putting the same attention and effort into onboarding a PA, you can set up a long-lasting, mutually satisfying partnership between manager and assistant.

Author Jane Leese Tiger Recruitment Team
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