Managers were very busy and needed the support and thought of their PA’s to help them. There was such pressure of work there never seemes to be time to think about how to work together. The annual performance appraisal process was one-way, manager to PA, and did not encourage “upward” feedback.
We ran a series of events, sometimes for a single manager and her or his PA and sometimes with up to three pairs. The core of the event was a simple tool, Team of Two, where each party writes down “things I can do to help you” and “things you can do to help me” and then shares the lists and decides what they will do.
The exercise easily led to free, open and positive discussions and decisions about all aspects of the work together, from the day to day, filing etc to the strategic, about priorities. One common decision was for the PA to attend some meetings with the manager so she or he would understand more about the manager’s work and thus be able to make better decisions about what was important.
This tool will not work if the relationship has so broken down that the parties do not want to make improvements.