If you have a personal secretary, you probably spend a substantial portion of your working day with her. You probably know each other well, and know how to work well together. No matter how close your working relationship with your secretary is, be sure that you remember to treat her with courtesy and deal with her in the best possible manner.
Here are some important courtesies that secretaries appreciate from their bosses, as revealed in a survey of over two hundred executive secretaries in different parts of the country.
1. Remember to say “please” and “thank you.”
It’s never good manners to assume that because you have such a close working affiliation, you need not bother to use “please” and “thank you” in the daily course of your activities. “Please take care of this, Miss Kane,” rather that a curt “take care of this,” goes a long way toward making the work day more pleasant. Similarly, “thank you” to your secretary, spoken warmly and often, makes her work load seem lighter and her job more rewarding.
2. Don’t blame your secretary when things go wrong
When your secretary makes a mistake, point it out with a view toward preventing similar errors in the future, rather than waste time “placing blame.” Remember that when you let your secretary save face (she does this for you, constantly, in many diplomatic ways) by getting down to the business of making corrections instead of “rubbing it in,” you save time, energy, and avoid needless irritation.
3. Be open to suggestions
The employer who treats his secretary like a machine will get, inevitably, machine-like reactions from her. Let her know that you respect her intelligence and value her opinion. An occasional, “We’ll try it your way this time, Miss Ames,” does wonders for her feeling of usefulness.
4. Don’t “push” your secretary to work faster
It isn’t usually necessary to push a reliable secretary to work harder and faster; once she understands what has to be done, and when, she likes to establish her own pace. She’s willing to accept the responsibility for getting it done promptly.
5. Don’t discuss your secretary with others
This is a courtesy that every secretary appreciates. In the course of the boss-secretary relationship the employer sometimes learns facts about the personal life of his private secretary. Just as an employer expects his secretary to keep his private affairs confidential, the secretary appreciates an employer who keeps what he has learned of her personal affairs confidential. Also, the thoughtful employer does not make personal comments about his secretary’s appearance or her work, in the presence of others.
6. Be considerate in small things
Often, it’s the small irritations that are hardest to bear. When you know your secretary will probably have to stay overtime, do you wait until the last minute to tell her about it? Or do you give her the courtesy of letting her know as much in advance as you possibly can? When dictation or other work runs into lunch time, do you ask her if she has made a luncheon appointment? Even if she has not, she will appreciate your courtesy in having asked her, anyway.
7. Don’t try to reform your secretary
It’s bad manners to carp on small habits and little things your secretary may do that are not quite to your liking. If her assets far outweigh her little liabilities, keep in mind that most likely she is putting up with you as she finds you, too. You would probably be surprised at the number of things in your personality that your secretary would like to change, if she could.
8. Respect her privacy
Your secretary senses when to walk out so that you may talk on the phone in private or when to walk out quickly after introductions are made. She will appreciate it when you allow her a bit of privacy, too, when she has an important phone call, for example.
9. Maintain a sense of humor
A kind word, a bit of fun, a little relaxation at the right moment can do wonders for both you and your secretary when the going gets rough. It takes little effort on your part, and it pays off.