Hi, it’s Laura this week.

I’ve now been working for PDI for six months. During that time I’ve come to learn that Brent is uniquely innovative in his preventative methods and resolutions to common workplace issues, particularly in family business, but not necessarily limited to. He practices the advice he gives to others in our own office and indicated that right off the bat…

Brent: One last thing, your desk will be in my office. Is that a problem for you?
Me: Umm…

That’s about all the “words” I could formulate when Brent threw this information my way at the end of my interview. “Didn’t he just say that when he is in the office the majority of his time is spent on the phone?” I thought to myself, “How will I get my work done if he’s talking in the background?”

As it turns out, the fact that my desk is in Brent’s office has been immeasurably beneficial and a practice I would encourage anyone with an assistant to try. Here’s why:
(Note: If putting your assistant’s desk in your office is unrealistic for your situation, I’ve included some takeaways to help your assistant become as effective as possible.)

1.     I was quickly able to learn Brent’s style when interacting with clients, which clients he is more formal with, and his “taboo” words. (Did you know Brent despises it when I call him my “boss”? I thought about entitling this article “My Boss Makes Me Sit In His Office” but I like my job too much….)
Takeaway: If your assistant is able to communicate with clients in the same manner that you do, you will feel more comfortable delegating to them. Help them learn your style by copying them on emails, allowing them to listen in on calls, and having them sit-in on meetings.

2.     In what seemed like no time I learned who our clients are. We have multiple clients with the same first name, clients with the same last name but who don’t work at the same company, and clients who are related but don’t work at the same company. It’s confusing to say the least, but sitting in with Brent I quickly established who “belongs” where.
Takeaway: Getting to know clients, vendors, partners, etcetera can be an overwhelming part of the onboarding process. Make it easier for new employees by creating bios or charts showing the companies you interact with and who the key players are.

3.     I receive in-the-moment feedback. I never have to wonder if I did something well or not, Brent tells me immediately because, well, I’m right there!
Takeaway: Feedback is one of the most important things you can offer a new employee. It can be as simple as an email saying “nicely done” or a regularly scheduled meeting to discuss what went well and what could be improved.

4.     There’s no lack of communication. We are able to keep each other constantly updated on the progress of different projects.
Takeaway: Communicate, communicate, communicate.

5.      Working in the same room creates absolute trust in both directions. Brent never has to wonder if I’m doing my work because he is able to see how hard I work. I never have to wonder if my job is secure because I see how much we’re thriving.
Takeaway: Trust is critical in successful working relationships. If it isn’t possible to have your assistant in a shared workspace, think of other ways you might create mutual trust. This may go back to regular meetings that allow your assistant to share their monthly successes. You could complete the trust loop by letting them know when key clients renew their contracts or by sharing success stories.

6.       Collaboration! Brent and I are constantly bouncing ideas back-and-forth. Through this method we have come up with ideas we may have not reached independently.
Takeaway: As an assistant I am constantly searching for ways to add value to the company; collaborating with Brent has been one way for me to accomplish this. Whenever we take the time to collaborate it seems as though our original idea comes out stronger, making it better for the clients and for the company.

Though it may seem strange, I am so grateful my desk is in Brent’s office. It has reduced the learning curve that comes with being the “newbie” and now, after six months of being here, I feel like I have worked here for years. If you have an assistant, or any employee who must be keyed in on the details of your business, take the initial steps to set them up for long term success. For some of you this may mean placing an assistant’s or other key player’s desk in your office, for others this will mean scheduling regular meetings.

Additionally, I encourage you to trust whatever conventional or unconventional method Brent suggests for addressing, preventing or resolving the strategy, problem or challenge you are confronting.I guarantee you he has thought it through and has a strategic reasoning for his suggestion.

P.S. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.