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FIVE TOP STRATEGIES for being a successful PA by Adam Fidler

For new and experienced PAs alike, there is always something to improve on. My belief is that all PAs have ability to become outstanding at what they do; not because they aren't already very good at the job, but because they all have the ability to be even better!  My top five strategies are listed below to take you from ‘good to outstanding’:


  1. Work in a methodical and logical way.  The workloads PAs have to contend with today are enormous and overwhelming.  Technology can help, but the ability to stay on top of working at a high pace is often down to having a structured system and methodical way of working.  This means devising a system for e-mails and paper that works for you and your boss.  Stick to your ‘system’ and it won’t let you down – but rely on your memory or too much on technology, and you’ll fall foul of missing work or forgetting things.


  1. Talk to your boss – preferably face to face.  I make NO apologies for reminding PAs that communication with their boss, ideally face to face, or even over the telephone, is the best way to a successful PA/boss relationship.  Far too many PAs rely solely on email as their main source of communication with their boss.  This wastes their time, and the boss’ time.  You cannot build a rapport with your boss over email – and the more you put into getting to know the boss, the more efficient you will be and the more you will enjoy your job.  Insist on having ‘face to face’ time with the boss at least once per week, or preferably for 10 minutes every day. 


  1. Set boundaries where appropriate.  You must instill, by the way you work, boundaries that command respect from your boss and others.  It actually helps you sometimes to not be available, or to push back diplomatically.  If you are always ‘waving the magic wand’, as I call it, then you attract more work.  There is nothing wrong with saying politely to your boss ‘I can’t do that right now, as I am in the middle of something’ or taking the time to explain to the boss just how long things take to do.  Bosses think our work is easy and straightforward – because we make it look like magic!  When the boss understands the context in which your role operates, the challenges and the issues, they will respect your time more.


  1. It’s the little things that matter.  It’s not difficult to be a superb PA; in fact, the small things you do, such as taking a cup of tea in, or collecting visitors from reception personally, all reinforce that you are a ‘nice person to have around’ and actually please the boss.  Too many PAs make issues about ‘I’m not doing this, and I’m not doing that’ and feel that the trivial tasks are beneath them. But they miss the point – take as much pride in the trivial task with the top task, and you’ll delight the boss and show him you’re a team player who can get stuck in as and when required.


  1. Share and share alike.  Share your knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm far and wide – and that includes with other PAs!  The more you give out the more you get back; so don’t be afraid to set up your job so someone can easily settle into your shoes… that could be sharing all your best tips and experience with another PA.  Being secretive and defensive creates the wrong energy and if you take the time to share information, and work as a team spirited PA, you’ll command respect and be seen as a true professional.  Holding on to knowledge because ‘knowledge is power’ is so 1990s!


Adam Fidler Biography

Adam Fidler is an Executive Assistant Consultant who offers training and self-development to PAs, EAs and Administrators.  He is the founder of his own consultancy, Adept Executive Consulting, and is Consultant Lecturer at Pitman Training Group, where his 2-day programme ‘From good to outstanding’ runs regularly throughout the UK. 

After qualifying as a secretary, then graduating with a first degree in Business and Economics, Adam gained his broad, corporate experience as a Board/C-Suite Level PA/EA in a variety of blue-chip organisations including Boots PLC, Bank of America and as a Private PA to a high-profile Chairman.  He is also the former European PR Officer for EUMA, the largest professional network of PAs in Europe.   

Adam is passionate about the value and importance of first-rate executive support and inspires PAs to think differently - about their roles, their organisations and their bosses - to maximise their success.   

His practical and logical approach to the role of the PA, and strategies to continuously improve performance and effectiveness, make Adam one of the most popular secretarial educators at home and abroad.   

Contact details:


Twitter:          @adamdfidler

LinkedIn:       Adam Fidler

Website:       www.executiveassistant.org

Email:           adam@executiveassistant.org