What should be exact role of an Executive Assistant should be? Is she required to the personal work of the manager also?
From India, Pune
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Partner - Risk Management
Doctor Siva Global Hr
Executive Assistant To Ceo
Workplace Assessment And Training


Dear Colleague,

A big No. The roles like Personal Secretary, Personal Assistant is to do the Official secretarial job for the assigned Management Leader of the business. Here fixing his appointments, doing communication internal / external connected to the business is what is expected to do for the Manager assigned

In case of Executive Assistant, the nomenclature itself is misleading as EA Roles is normally is highly skilled Technical Assistant to the Management Leader assigned. Here the EA has to advise his assigned boss on technically evaluating and advising the viability, cost, feasibility and suggest technical way forward for the business and to support in the process of decision making.

But in reality, both EA/ ES/PA/PS are highly misused by the " So called Managers" in a highly unethical and unprofessional manner and insist them to do all their personal work also. Only very few companies in the R&R itself allows only during office hours for reasonable personal support for bank related / payment of bills related support/ car service etc the PS/PA can help. But EA definitely No personal work can be assigned.

In reality, again if the EA/ PA refuse to do such personal work the Manager start victimizing them by not recommending for promotion and increments etc.

Hence, you must be tactful in handling this without affecting your employment in the organization. If the boss is matured, then he will not give any personal work but if he is not matured, then such demands and expectations will be there. Approach this problem from your grip in the company and any escalation possibility etc or if there is a threat for your employment and employment is necessary for you, for some time do the obligation only within the professional limits and ethical way. If going beyond, then do not hesitate to escalate to higher ups and prepare for a job change too. I am saying this practically. Never allow any one to exploit you and work only within boundaries and never bend for unreasonable expectations from any one for that matter. Do your work with " Dignity of Labour"

In one such case, what i suggested was as a joke is that whenever the boss gives personal work then do mess up that work and intentionally do wrongly and present that it is done wrongly without intention. But that person really did and slowly later he gave feedback that the boss now a days not assigning any personal work to him.
God Bless!!!

From India, Chennai
Thank you, sir. Forgiving me clarity and assuring me that I was not assuming anything wrong. But then I will have to find out some ways to tackle it. And last but not least your tip was amazing it will surely keep it in mind. :)

Thank you very much.

From India, Pune
Dinesh Divekar

Dear Jidnyasa-N,

You have asked a query on how to handle a situation when a boss tells a personal work his/her Executive Assistant (EA). While a learned member has given a reply and you have liked it also, I will give some background to why bosses their personal work to the EAs. My replies are in the Indian context only. The reasons are as below:

a) The work of Personal Secretary (PS) and EA is completely different. Not many bosses know the difference between the two. How many bosses understand this difference and even if they understand, how many of them have a willpower to appoint both, EA and PS?

b) In India, it is customary to overstretch work. Therefore, almost all the bosses do personal work while in the office and do official work while at home. The lines that divided the personal and official work have been blurred long ago.

c) In the Indian context, while in the office, some amount of personal work everybody does. Do other employees in your company do personal work while in the office or not? Therefore, why single out a boss, and question his tendency? Bosses do myriad types of work. The diversity of the work occasionally makes them forget to do some personal work. Hence they start relying on their EA.

d) When it comes to "personal" work, one needs to understand how much "personal" it is? Managing his/her personal calendar or scheduling the appointments etc. is fine. However, if the boss brings a grocery list and tells the EA to order it from the e-commerce portal, then he/she needs to be reminded of the difference between the two.

e) When the EA becomes slight old in his/her job, he/she also starts interacting with the spouse or other family members of the boss. Over a period of time, the EA develops closeness even with them also. However, the closeness blurrs the difference between the official and personal work.

f) A few bosses are either forgetful or disorganised. They pay a price for their forgetfulness or for being disorganised. Considering their plight, they "request" their EA to remind them about their personal activities too. In the bargain, how the EA starts entering into the personal arena of the boss, although inadvertently, that he/she does not come to know.

g) There are a few types of persons who forever rely on someone else to do something. Many of them are neither computer savvy nor mobile phone savvy. If the boss falls under this category, then whether the EA likes or not, he/she will start telling the EA to do the personal work. If the EA starts raising the objections, then they just change the EAs.

h) While you might have objection against the boss for doing his/her personal work, what about your predecessors? Did they also object? If they did not object, then over a period of time, the bosses start taking their EA for granted. A new EA is expected to fall in their frame of mind otherwise the EA has choice to quit the company. Under such circumstances, it is the fault of your predecessors and not of the bosses.

i) Most of the bosses deal only with the subordinates. However, dealing only with the persons who from the lower level of hierarchy, they develop a superiority complex. They expect, the juniors to follow their orders, whether the orders are for personal work or official that does not matter. A few other bosses develop superiority complex for the reasons like their business success, high IQ level, outstanding academic performance etc.

j) Many bosses have extremely dominating nature. They behave as if their company is their fiefdom. If the company has "Sultan-Khadim" culture or "Ji Huzoor" culture (a culture of unquestioned obedience), will they not expect their EA to be the part of this culture?

Hope you understand why bosses tell their EA the personal work. By writing the above points, my attempt was not to justify the tendency of the bosses. My point was limited to putting forth the context only.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

An Executive Assistant does not have to be a "SHE". Males can do that job just as well.

The world has moved on from this nonsense that only women can do certain jobs.

I speak from experience, as I was a very successful Executive Assistant twice in my career.
Once as an EA to one of the owners/Technical Director of an IT company, and lastly as EA to an Executive Director in a very large Government department.

From Australia, Melbourne

In fact, As John said, most EA I have met are male.
EA's jobs are often high pressure and having long hours. As long as the boss is working (in office, out of office, from home), the EA is also on duty. And considering that most EAs are for top level executives, their bosses do work very long hours

From India, Mumbai

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