Mia L. Hazlett
There is a saying about Vegas, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Same for your boss’s office. The C-Level (CL)/Executive Assistant (EA) relationship is one of the most unique within the organization. Trust and confidentiality must prevail.
I’ve not met one person who didn’t have a bad day on the job. Not one. I am happy with the career I chose. It doesn’t mean I like my job every day. Whether it be a stressful deadline looming, or a Girl Scout meeting on Board Meeting day, stress can be overwhelming if you can’t vent. Besides venting, there are just some issues handled at the executive level, which need to stay there
Stress hits everyone, even the big boss. They are the leader of the company, but as their EA, they should be able to vent to you. No matter what or who they vent about, that stress relieving session stays behind those closed doors and is shared with no one.
For instance, early in my career I had lunch with the EA of the company. It was a group of five of us. Very innocently she shared her boss’s, our president’s, dog was sick and he may not be going to an upcoming meeting she had spent weeks prepping for. We weren’t a huge company, so we saw our President often. Two people from our lunch group talked to him later in the day and wished his dog well. Our next lunch together, Miss EA told us she was pulled into the office and reprimanded for telling us about his dog. She was upset with us for saying something to him. She wanted to apply the Vegas Law to our lunch session.
At the time, I thought our president overreacted, but now as an EA, I understand. They reviewed his schedule and he shared his dog’s health. She took it upon herself to not only share about the dog, but about his scheduling as well. That was not lunch talk.
Besides the health of a CL’s pet, there are going to be conversations, which could have an impact on someone’s employment or the company as a whole. Most of these things are strategically rolled out and require the strictest of confidentiality. I have been part of conversations like this, and my opinion was heard, but not adopted. I was frustrated and my journal heard all about it. To this day, my journal has not shared it with anyone.
The dog slip-up I can understand. But when I worked for a different company, one of my colleagues was going to be terminated. This decision was determined at a C-level meeting. There were three people in that meeting, the president, his EA, and the HR director. Somehow, my colleague heard the news through office gossip. Confidentiality is crucial for your boss to operate effectively and appropriately. You should never put them in a position where they must be reactionary when there was already a plan in place.
I realize my boss and I will not always agree, but I vent to my journal. Venting to your coworkers is not a thing when you are an EA. You represent your boss and that office. You may think sharing the condition of your boss’s pet is minor, but that is not your call to make. What happens in that office, stays in that office.
©2018 Mia L. Hazlett