Overworked employee

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So, footballer Jermain Defoe is on the lookout for a new Executive PA – His list of criteria includes but is not limited to: developing “a global brand for the Jermain Defoe name”, launching apps for his website, watering the plants, organising family holidays and gifts and maintaining his social and professional itineraries.
The successful candidate would certainly be kept on their toes (we’re wondering what was the straw that broke the back of his last PA?) but just how much is too much?

It’s clear that while Mr Defoe is looking for Wonderwoman or Superman and we’re sure there are no short supply of candidates, a quick search on google for “setting boundaries at work” returns more than 124,000,000 results, which tells us it is clearly something that the majority of us deal with on an ongoing basis. Setting boundaries with colleagues can be a challenge, after all, we spend more time with these people than we do with our own families, but it is setting boundaries with our bosses and managers that can keep even the most efficient PA up at night.

You want horror stories? We’ve heard them all, in fact some would make Jermain Defoe’s list look tame in comparison, but client confidentiality is of utmost importance here so – our lips are sealed!
What we can tell you from what we’ve learned in 17 years matching candidates and companies is this:

  1. Know your worth – an Executive PA is by its nature a varied role that at the same time requires skill and efficiency. Interested in creating better presentations? By all means get to grips with photoshop but be aware that if this forms the core of your tasks you might need to reassess what defines your role and take a look at what makes you happiest – are you still a PA at heart or should you seek a new role as a Graphic Designer?
  2. Yes, asking you to pick up dry cleaning on your lunch break without allowing extra time is unreasonable. No ifs ands or buts about it. Being flexible is all very well but if you’re being asked to squeeze in their business needs during your time, whether it’s at lunch time, after hours or weekend – speak up! This time is yours to recharge and unwind and be ready for action again.
  3. Disconnecting – Not everyone is going to be as committed to work as your boss and no, that doesn’t make you lazy. Thanks to smartphones we’re all better connected but if your boss is sending emails (or worse, messaging you on Facebook or even tweeting you!) in the middle of the night and expects a reply, it’s definitely time for a quick word. While Jermain Defoe’s new PA will be on call 24/7, remember this is not the norm.
  4. Nip it in the bud – Don’t let unreasonable behaviour become a habit. Keeping mum on more than one occasion of unacceptable requests or treatment will not make the issue go away, rather it will send a message that you are willing to tolerate this behaviour. If you’re stuck in a situation where this is already a habit, it still isn’t too late. Starting today, take a deep breath and commit to standing up for yourself and reclaiming your sanity.
  5. Keep cool – Diplomacy is best, approach the issue as soon as you can but make sure you are calm and collected. Don’t bring up the topic when you are likely to be irritable or emotional about it. Plan ahead about what you are going to say.
  6. Remember, boundaries are healthy! Your professional self-esteem is dependent on a mutually respectful working environment for both you and your boss. Boundaries protect you (and your boss!) from feeling unappreciated or disgruntled and form a huge part of your overall job satisfaction.

Over to you, what are your top tips to succeed in setting boundaries with your boss?
If you’d like to have a chat about finding a nice, new boss, contact the BrightStar team today :
Dublin: 01 662 0300
Cork: 021 422 4000
Belfast: 028 90 325 325
See our current openings here

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