Office Coach: Make a plan to pin down boss on project details

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Question: I was recently hired as the executive assistant to a company president. On my second day, he gave me a project to do, then took off the afternoon to play golf. I had questions about this assignment, so I called his cell phone and sent an email, but got no response.

Two days later, the president left a note instructing me to send some information "to all our managers." Being new, I wasn't sure who should be included on this list, so I tried to reach him. Again, he did not reply.

Now, when I have questions, I'm not sure whether to use my own judgment or continue trying to get in touch with him. I don't want him to think I'm incapable of making decisions, but I've learned over the years that assumptions can be dangerous. How should I handle this?

Answer: Since executive assistants are typically expected to be mind readers, learning to anticipate the preferences of your new boss is obviously a top priority. So instead of making risky guesses or stalking him on the golf course, try to establish a routine for getting the information you need.

For example: "Since I'm still learning about the company, I wondered if we might touch base every morning to discuss the day's events. That way, I can get answers to my questions up front and avoid interrupting you later on. I've always been a fast learner, so we should only have to do this for a few weeks."

As you settle into your job, the need for these daily chats will lessen and eventually disappear. Once you are more familiar with the company culture and your boss's habits, you should be able to accurately predict which decisions you can safely make on your own.

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Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach. Get free coaching tips at www.yourofficecoach.com


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