The role of a Personal Assistant (PA) is entirely subjective, as every person that they serve is different and will have a different set of needs and expectations. Telephone PAs work closely with senior management and executives, whose priorities will vary.
So, rather than possessing a defined set of qualifications and skills, a PA should have certain qualities that they can use in various roles and situations.
Here are a few of the essential attributes a PA must possess:
The executives and senior management that PAs work for are busy people. They do not want to have to hand-hold a Telephone PA or cover every nitty-gritty detail of the role. A good Telephone PA should have a proactive approach and anticipate the needs of their boss. Telephone PAs should be aware of their boss' priorities and take pre-emptive action to facilitate positive outcomes and situations.
A Telephone PA needs to have outstanding judgment when making decisions so that their boss has the confidence to rely on them while the boss is otherwise engaged. When a PA has been with their boss for some time, this confidence develops and becomes mutual, in good working relationships.
The position of the Telephone PA means that they have to be great communicators and be able to engage with people at all levels of the organisation. A PA will be able to converse with workers from the shop floor and members of the board. Their personalities should be outgoing, friendly, and likable. They should be expert communicators on the phone, and in writing.
A PA will be responsible for organising almost every aspect of their boss' work life, and may even some parts of their activities. To stay on top of these busy schedules, the Telephone PA must be highly organised.
The pace of change at the top of an organisation can often be hectic. Full diaries, last-minute rescheduling, and unforeseen cancellations are aspects of everyday life for executives and their PAs. So, flexibility is another essential quality that the Telephone PA must possess.
Continually juggling a whole range of tasks, with ever-altering priorities, might not be everyone's ideal job. However, a good Telephone PA will take this in their stride, and consider it the norm.
The last thing an executive wants is to have any doubts about their Telephone PA. Ideally, they want their PA to be their right-hand-person, someone they have absolute confidence in. Reliability in all aspects of their job is a quality that a PA must-have. This reliability will eventually place a Telephone PA in a position of trust and reliance upon by their boss.
The role of the Telephone PA is unique in every organisation and to every executive. The qualities outlined here will place a PA in a position of being more than just another employee, but an asset to the organisation.