Who needs a PA? I do!

It’s one of life’s little ironies that I left my last job, as a consultant, and set up my own business partly so that I could manage my own diary. I was really tired of not being able to say no to long-distance travel back-to-back with demanding assignments and couldn’t commit to evening social events more than a day or two in advance unless I took some of my annual leave.

So here I am, 15 years down the line and I’m no longer running my own diary. My assistant, Sharon, has taken over booking all my appointments, travel, client meetings and delivery days. How did that happen!!?

I think it’s a sign of progress in my own thinking that I’m now able to delegate that vital task. The difference, of course is that I make the rules and Sharon is just as keen as I am to make sure that I don’t over-commit my time and end up with no energy for the important things.

Similarly, Sharon deals with a lot of my email. She can filter out the ‘stuff’ that is important for me to see, deal with some of it herself and delete the (inevitable) spam.

In fact, it’s just like the ‘good old days’ when I had a corporate job and a full-time PA.

Many organisations have reduced their number of admin staff, cut down on PAs and now expect quite senior managers to handle all of their own admin. Yes, of course they can answer their own email. Yes, they can type their own reports. Yes, they can book their own travel. But does it really make sense for someone to be paid in excess of £200 per hour to type reports and book travel?

If managers are criticised for not having a sufficiently ‘strategic’ view of the business, maybe a good starting place to remedy that would be to relieve them of the responsibility for day-to-day typing and travel bookings and let them focus on the bigger picture.

I can certainly see how my ability to think ahead has improved since I’ve had a team to deal with some of the day-to-day activities and the areas I’m not so enthusiastic about.

Now my to-do list is mostly about talking to clients, designing learning processes and writing articles. Oh, and sharing my thoughts with you!


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