Once upon a time… There was a genius executive who wanted to hire the best administrative assistant.
As a 15 year employee with XYZ corporation, she had hired and fired 25 assistants and was hoping to find the 26th superstar candidate.
With intolerable mood swings and consistent double-digit departmental growth, this executive was feared by subordinates and heralded by senior management.
After scolding her latest victim for a minor infraction, she made a frantic call to human resources for relief.
“Good morning, may I speak to the miracle working recruiter? I need a new admin. This one is terrible.”
“I would like someone to fetch my morning coffee, manage the daily issues with a smile, and coordinate my busy schedule. Send me the best administrative assistant for hire, because I need to fill this position with much haste.
Don't send me all the dumb secretaries, like you normally do. I'm a perfectionist and will not tolerate anything less than the best.”
In the past no human resources professional could satisfy the executive's desire for administrative perfection. With deliberate dread the recruiter searched every village and hamlet for fair maidens and capable gents to fill this doomed position.
Before I finish this fable, I ask you gentle reader.
Is the real issue the genius executive's unrealistic expectation, or is the dumb assistant to blame?
It's easy to call someone dumb, when you're avoiding the real problem. The female executive wants to hire someone that is incapable of supporting her needs, so that she can be the heroine in the office story.
Before a new admin is hired, human resources should confront the executive and tell her the truth about her sordid history of bad hires.
In the past I've heard a few managers refer to their former administrative support staff as dumb. This trail of doomed administrative assistants is clearly a casualty of an ineffective hiring strategy.
Smart executives should stop the name calling and pause for quiet introspection.
3 Reasons Why The Executive Can't Hire The Best Administrative Assistant
1) “I don't want to pay much money, but I deserve the best assistant.”
Instead of hiring a qualified professional who requires a higher salary, some managers want low wages and stellar experience.
Some women spend $600 for salon-quality, custom-blended highlights, sleep on 1500 thread count sheets and demand first class travel and accommodations; but want to pay $27,000 a year for an administrative assistant with a Wharton MBA and 10 years of experience.
And they deign to complain about the lack of quality assistants in the marketplace. Ridiculous.
2)” I don't want any competition. Hire an administrative assistant who won't outshine me.”
In my 15 years of experience as a recruiter and career counselor, this silent wish is more common than you think. To solve the recurring problem the recruiter in the story must find the difficult boss a candidate who complements her personality, work type and behavior.
A little known fact: The best administrative assistants usually have above average intelligence and skills. These professionals often have to do two jobs: the executive's and their own.
3) The current job description doesn't match the real needs of the position.
How often does an applicant read a job description and see all the general human resources verbiage.
- Seeking a candidate with 5 years of experience. A team players who is skilled in answering phones, supporting senior executives…yada, yada, yada. This standard employment advertisement often hides the real truth about the personality of the manager and the requirements of the position.
It is the responsibility of the executive and the recruiter to create a realistic job description. The person seeking the position must also ask important questions to determine if the job meets their long-term financial, emotional and vocational goals; beyond what is written in the cryptic job advertisement.
This fable features a woman manager, but let's not forget some male executives are equally unbearable.
How does this story end?
What can you learn if you cannot relate to the temperamental executive in the story?
At the end of the story, the executive receives a major attitude adjustment from the Good Witch Glenda and the recruiter hires the best administrative assistant for the position.
In the real world, both the executive manager and the subordinate should work towards a common goal: civility and respect in the workplace.
Use the lessons from above to hire the best administrative assistant and leave the fables to Shrek, Rapunzel, and the Brothers Grimm.