Welcome Back, It's Now 2007, Atlas
Happy New Year. Mine sucked. I'm already dreading work, but thank God for Martin Luther King, Jr., and his sweet holiday which I WILL be getting off this year.
Anyway, I was catching up with my many emails and this one caught my eye. Feel free to send me these questions people. But be sure to Google the blog for answer before you do. Otherwise, I may not respond at all. And I'm making no promises. I'm a Hollywood assistant....lying is my livelihood.
So here's the email I received:
Hi. I enjoy your blog. Welcome back and Happy New Year.
Could you please write a post about making mistakes at work, and the best way to recover? Sometimes, I make mistakes such as forgetting to copy an executive on a memo, or emailing the right person but flubbing his/her name. I usually send a quick correction apologizing for the error. But, it seems those tiny errors are harped on by other assistants, as if it is their ammunition to make me look bad to our bosses. They actually make a point of ridiculing me or mentioning my mistakes to our bosses. Each day, I try to be more "perfect" but mistakes happen for many reasons, none of which are vindictive.
Also, it seems that the other assistants are resentful because I leave work at a reasonable time, usually 6:30 PM. I come in early, usually by 8:30 AM. I work a 10-hour day with no lunch break. I value my personal time, so throughout the day I make sure I manage my workload so by the time 6:30 PM comes, I am done with things, so I can wrap it up for the day. Why should I hang around the office until 7:00 PM or 8:00 PM, if I am done and if my boss is done rolling calls and says "Good night. I'm done. See you in the morning." The other assistants say that I am rude, lazy and I do what I want to do.
I enjoy my job. I enjoy supporting my boss. I love it the business, but my headaches are the other assistants.
I would really love your advice. And, please can you not mention my name?
-Emailin' Assistant Person Obviously At A Sharky Agency
Hi Emailin' Assistant,
I appreciate the email, but I can't guarantee posts on request. Of course, you're getting your wish, so feel special. Anyway, after perusing your situation carefully for about thirty seconds, here's what I'd say you might do to improve your relations with other assistants, or perhaps improve your overall work life.
-Make fewer mistakes, blame more of them on others, cast doubt and aspersions, and lie, cheat, steal. You are an assistant, dearie, and if this were a game, it would be more fun. And this is definitely not an ethical game, people. You're either being bullied because you don't fight back, making you a convenient punching bag...or, you are actually a major screw-up and they're just trying to get rid of you.
-Apologize less via email, as this leaves a written record of your failure. Often this is forwarded and re:'d endlessly by the less tech-savvy or needling bosses/associates. Apologize via phone. It's more personal that way, and you need that with apologies.
-Either more face time, or none, with the other assistants. It depends on your office, but you could offer to help out occasionally, especially if someone's struggling. It may generate goodwill. If all is quiet, by all means, get out of there. I'd expect the others to do the same.
-State your morning arrival time when you leave. If 8:30 is early for your office and you'll be in then, are there any calls you'd like put in to NY/Europe when you come in? They probably won't have you do it, but it inoculates you to calls of under-work.
-Examine your behavior. If you know the other assistants are calling you things behind your back, make sure you know exactly why. It's either because they're jealous, catty snatches, or because they're right. So you either need to ignore them or check yourself before you wreck yourself (or, your career). Either way, I'd say a healthy dose of self-examination never hurt anyone. Of course, constant over-self-examination is my curse, so maybe you shouldn't trust me on this last one.
Best of luck,