But you never asked!
July 17, 2014 8:02 AM Subscribe
I've had a consistent problem in my work life recently, and I'd love some advice. Since I've had so much trouble getting work, I defaulted to Executive Assistant positions. I figured this was in line with my personality, since I'm fairly thick-skinned and cheerful, and I'm pretty organized. The only problem is that I keep getting temp-to-perm positions where the C-level exec I assist accuses me of forgetting to do things he never asked me to do!
posted by pineappleheart to Work & Money (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in my second temp-to-perm position where I'm working for an important bigwig at a major company. Since I'm working for a CEO right now, I haven't received any training or face time with my boss; he's just too busy. I sort of have to guess at what he wants, and it seems I'm always wrong. I try to ask him questions about his preferences over IM and email, which he encouraged me to do, but he never answers them. It was the same with my last boss, who wound up finding my work unsatisfactory and declined to convert me to permanent employee status.
I can kind of roll with the punches and switch gears easily. I try to learn my boss' preferences quickly and never make the same mistake twice. I try to have written conversations so that my boss' instructions are documented and I can refer back to them. Sometimes their preferences change suddenly and without warning, so it's important for me to look back at old conversations and figure out whether I messed and misunderstood instructions or whether my boss is just being crazy like a boss sometimes is. Usually it's the latter.
My big problem in both jobs has been my boss recalling asking me to do something that he never asked. My last boss was upset that I didn't have a carpet delivered to his office since he believed he'd asked me to do so. When I asked around, it turned out that he'd asked an entirely different person several months before I was hired. I tried to explain this, but he said I should have known. I don't know how this would have been possible since I couldn't have randomly guessed that he wanted a carpet for his office and had asked the head of HR for it; I definitely wouldn't have guessed that he might mix up me and the head of HR, who was someone of a different race, gender, and place in the hierarchy. Anyway, it was a major sticking point with him and he stated it was one of the reasons he let me go.
I figured he was crazy, but now my new boss is doing the same thing. He fired the temp-to-perm woman who was here ahead of me after a month and it looks like I'm next on the chopping block. Today my boss asked me why I didn't add him to a meeting that a) I'd never heard about, and b) was not on my calendar or anyone's calendar since it was impromptu. He insisted he'd asked me to add him to the calendar invite for this meeting. I've gone through all of my emails and I swear I have no idea what he means. I write down every word he says to me since I've been so wary of this happening, and it's nowhere in my notebook. When I tried to tell him that I'd asked around and the meeting was in fact never scheduled and was more of an informal gathering, he gave me a "You're a dumb asshole" face and shut his door on me. He hasn't looked me in the face since and I suspect I'll be fired this week. This isn't the first instance of him doing this, but it's in combination with me neglecting to pick up his phone for him because I was in the bathroom this morning, so he's extra pissed.
My question is: If I continue trying to find an Executive Assistant role, how do I avoid this? How do I respond when my boss takes me to task for not doing something I was never instructed to do? I can handle the other parts of the job, but this one is just so confusing to me. I'd love to NOT be an Executive Assistant since I think this is just a nature-of-the-beast kind of thing, but it's the only job I'm being offered right now. I need some quick solutions. Please help!