I’m here with a new name and one question today. But I still love to tell people what to do with their lives, so don’t forget to submit your questions here or e-mail me!
Back Story: I am a total type-A personality at work. I also have an assistant who works with me. Because I am total type-A, I don’t like to give her too much to do for fear that she won’t do it correctly. She always tells me that I should utilize her more, so I gave her lots of copying to do the other day.
Problem: She totally messed up ALL the copies. (And hole punched my master copies- which totally irked me). Some of the mistakes were easy to correct (like the papers she had collated but should have been uncollated like I put on the copy request form), but it took a long time. Other copies are completely unreadable.
She’s older and means well, and I know I can be anal-retentive, so do I mention it? Or do I just suck it up?
Both? Is that an answer? The point of an assistant is to … assist. So you both are better off if she is actually doing work that’s helpful for you. She’s going to feel worthless and annoyed if you keep avoiding giving her work, and your frustration that she’s not doing the job correctly is going to be apparent even if you think you’re sucking it up. So it would benefit both of you to have a discussion about what her strengths are and what type of tasks she would like to have, as well as constructive criticism about making sure she’s following instructions. The trick, obviously, is to get your point across without being too harsh.
That said, as someone who has worked for some major type-A bosses (no, it’s not you, Ophelia), I have to say that sometimes you just need to learn when to let go. This issue with the copies sounds like it was pretty time-consuming to fix, so this may not be the issue that you want to drop. But in the future you should consider whether the aggravation or constant perfection-checking is worth it. Obviously you recognize that you tend to be anal-retentive, but to this point you’ve actually been avoiding dealing with the issue by not giving your assistant work. Being a motivated, perfectionist Type-A employee can have a lot of advantages. I bet you’re great at your job and always very thorough. Unfortunately, it has its negative aspects, too, and just in life it will be good for you to learn how to deal with some of the challenges around being that type of person. It’s not like shoddy assistants are going to end with this woman, and by not learning now how to pick and choose what you deal with and what you let go, you’re doing yourself a disservice for your future work relationships.
I hope that answers your question. But really, even nice old ladies should learn how to read instructions.
That’s all for today! Send me your questions here or e-mail them to lucifurious at persephonemagazine dot com.