By: Mia L. Hazlett
As an EA most notably, your job is to make things happen. You are bombarded with emails and calls requesting your boss’s availability. If the request seems reasonable, you make it happen. Whether you meet with your boss daily or weekly, you review with them all the things you made happen or need to make happen with their schedule. You get the approval or disapproval and move ahead. In utopia, that is an easy job. But it’s not that easy. You know it and so do I.
When you leave the meeting with your boss, as EAs we know nothing is written in stone. Their schedules change in the blink of an eye. When change flies at you, it’s your job as an EA to make everything you made happen, unhappen. I’ve adjusted schedules due to family emergencies, and I assisted when the Boston Marathon Bombings occurred. When changing a schedule under those circumstances, people were extremely understanding and I later rescheduled.
Part of our job is to unhappen things when the occasional emergency arises. But the most important thing about removing appointments from your boss’s schedule, keeping track of how many times you remove the same appointment. At some point you need to tell your boss no more rescheduling. If they still refuse, they have to tell the person/representative they do not wish to meet with them, or grant you the authority to do so.
I keep rescheduling limited to twice, unless there is a family or extreme emergency. If you get to the point that you are cancelling someone’s appointment for the third of fourth time, you’ve lost a level of respect for their time and trust me, they’ve lost respect for you. Honestly, if your boss is meeting with them they are most likely an executive or higher and could have used that wasted time more wisely. Most likely your chances of rescheduling are nil.
It is up to you to keep track of the number of reschedules, not your boss. If they get called away to another meeting, they just want you to clear their calendar. They are not keeping track of what gets cancelled. I also suggest you be knowledgeable about who initiated the meeting. If it was your boss, you may suggest they reach out to the person directly to make rescheduling more probable. Because if the person rearranged some appointments on their schedule to accommodate your boss and they receive an impersonal cancellation from the EA, guaranteed you will wait months to get that back on the calendar.
Unhappening things comes with the territory of running a C-level office. But there is a tactful respectful way to cancel and reschedule. You must find the approach that works best for your office, but make sure you keep track, before your boss is willingly unhappened from a schedule you put time into making happen.