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Seb Anthony

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Improving manager/secretary working relationship


Does anyone have any ideas or tools or know of any courses which would help them to be clear about their respective roles and responsibilities? The manager perceives there is a capability issue. The PA is at her wit's end of how to support him satisfactorily. Any suggestions/contributions would be gratefully received. Thank you. Lindsay
Lindsay Campbell

6 Responses

  1. “training” may not be the answer

    The issue would appear to be a difference of opinion regarding personal ability and responsibility. Sending each to a seperate training course would probably make that worse.

    I would suggest some arbitration; sit the pair down, off site, off duty, with a neutral (really neutral, not over ranked by the senior director) arbitrator/conciliator/facilitator. Coach them together through the issues.

    You don’t need to go as far as ACAS, just a local, independent business coach.


  2. Perceptual Positions
    Hi Linsay

    A technique you could try is the Perceptual Positions NLP technique.

    Get the two together in the same room but work with them one at a time.

    Create three positions on the floor one for each person and a neutral position.

    As each participant steps through the positions (you need to facilitate, asking appropriate questions about that position) and as the brain ‘acts’ out the other, there seems to be a shift in perception.
    The neutral position offers advice to both participants and this is considered in the other two positions but is in fact all done by the same person. This tends to disrupt repetitive thought patterns and opens out the situation.

    Let me know if you need further help.

  3. Two Sides to the Story!
    Lindsay, I have something which could be useful for you to use with the two individuals but your contact details don’t seem to be available on TrainingZone. If you can contact me by e-mail I will send you the information which I hope might be of help. Regards

  4. working together
    Hi lindsay
    When I was management development advisaor with business link I was often called to help business advisers deal with situations like this.

    I found that using the FIRO-B was a great tool to help understand the needs of each person. It allowed a working structure to be developed.

    I have also used MBTI in the past but found firo-b to be easy to understand by clients and quick to get to a result.


  5. try workplace mediation
    Hi there

    Firstly, I recommend you ask both parties to consider meeting with an external workplace mediator who can help them share their feelings and describe and agree some practical steps to overcome the difficulties. Secondly, check if lack of clarity about roles and responsibilites exists elsewhere in the organisation. If so, some training, alongside improving induction and communication strategies would be useful. happy to talk more. Good luck.


  6. Arian Associates Ltd
    It would appear from the short description of the problem that each of the parties in question has a different perception of both each other, and what is required in respect of the role of the PA. The manager seems to not have much faith in the PA and her ability to carry out the function and the PA is banging her head against a brick wall in trying to perform her job role whilst having no real idea of what the manager really expects from her.
    Communication Breakdown seems to be at the crux of this unpleasant situation and maybe if they just sat down and discussed it in an adult, professional manner then they could resolve their difference of opinion and both move on! Even better to adopt the suggestion in the response from Helene below and have someone mediate.


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