Imagine a ship in the storm, alright? 10 meter waves, swirling winds of over 150 km/h, creaking, clattering, bashing, whirling; sweat, nausea, shouting, pain, longings of the old terracotta, of pubs with crackling fires and cold ales, of gorgeous wives.
Now imagine the ship has a great captain. An old sea wolf, a Jack London’s Wolf Larsen type (without the psychopathic tendencies), old, grizzled, weather-beaten, who’s spent more of his life at sea than on land. It works, dunnit?
Now imagine that captain, with all his experience and knowledge, and no one to give orders to; no one to turn to; no one to hoist or bring in the sails while he is steering the ship.
The ship is not going to survive the storm.
Based on the title, you’ve most probably guessed where this article is going. The captain is the boss of the company; the Jefe, the chief, the chieftain. And his crew is everyone else that’s essential to the functioning of the company, including the secretaries and admin staff.
What is the relationship like?
What should it be like?
How do bosses and secretaries feel about each other?
Let’s find out.
It is the general consensus that secretaries conspire against their bosses and think they are money-hungry, power-driven drones devoid of empathy; and bosses think their secretaries steal, are lazy on the job, are dispensable – I mean, how hard is it to type and call people on the phone?
Sure, that happens.
But only if there’s no trust.
And no, not all bosses are like that. Some, sure. But not all. And neither are most secretaries. Well, this can be true for any and every job – if there is no mutual respect, if the employees don’t feel like they’re contributing to something, like their work matters, if they’re not paid enough to live a normal (not a pay check-to-pay check, but normal) life – then you’re going to have all sorts of friction between employer and employee. But if there’s kindness, and empathy, and mutual respect and understanding stemming from the knowledge that you’re both human beings who want to live their life to the best of their abilities, then the relationship works.
Bosses, heads up…
26 April is Secretaries Day in the United Kingdom. It is an occasion that lets the bosses stop and think about how much their secretaries actually mean to them. About how difficult their job can actually be. And for all that, your secretaries deserve a card. Head over to Hipper.com and pick something out – they’re guaranteed to love them.
In real life, you’re going to be writing something like this:
Thank you for all your hard work throughout the years. I am very lucky to have you as part of my team here at XXX.
But what you’ll be saying, hopefully – if that’s the type of healthy, trusting relationship you have with your secretary – is something along the lines of:
Without you my days would start off with a series of disasters. I am an incredibly busy man, too busy even as far as my family is concerned, and I have very little time to do the very little things in life. Your early-morning coffee allows me to dig into my work and keep this company afloat. Your immaculate organizational skills allow me to stay in business. I truly mean it. Without you, I’d be lost. There is no way I’d be able to handle all the clients, arrange this and arrange that, woo them and charm them like you do. You are as indispensable to this organization as I am. Perhaps even more so.
You are smart and talented, and, frankly, deserve a much higher pay check. I can’t give you one, though, because I’m trying to please all the internal and external stakeholders and keep the revenues as high as possible. Sorry.
I know you don’t think of me as the kindest and most caring person in the world. Most days I talk to you about nothing except work. And that’s alright. But it’s the coldness in my voice, isn’t it? I am too stressed to be thinking of niceties and good manners most of the time. And for that, I am sorry.
I hope you realize how much I value your contributions to this company.
This is what it should be like. This is the boss-secretary relationship you, as an employer, should strive for. Treat them as you’d like to be treated if you were someone’s secretary.
No, no, no, actually – as you’d like to be treated as a human being.