Your (own) Secret Secretary
It’s no secret: everybody feels a bit snubbed when they get passed through a secretary or someone else screening them. The very word ‘secretary’ means to be set apart, and no visitor or potential client wants to be set apart from who they’re trying to reach. It’s easy to distance yourself from everybody once you end up in managerial and executive positions, but maintaining a personal touch—being your own secretary now and then--with all who come to your office can make a huge difference. Enduring business relationships are built on interpersonal relations, and you can’t build those across a desk.
My secretary used to complain that I don’t allow her to do her job, because I’m doing it for her. That’s not entirely true—she helps a lot—but I do believe in not being “too good” or “too important” to do little tasks too. I’ve picked up the phone for everyone from unsatisfied customers to CEOs. I’ve gotten responses like “Don’t you have a secretary to answer phones for you?” I just laugh and say “Sometimes I’m my own secretary. Now, how can I help you today?” As discussed, a personal touch really takes your interactions to the next level. By showing people that you’re just a normal person too, you can accomplish giant things.
Being an Encouraging Boss
What makes you feel better, getting a memo from your boss via their secretary, or having them come to in person to talk? Secretaries are go-betweens, which can be helpful sometimes; other times, though, having a go-between passes up the chance to encourage the troops and motivate them. Employees—and others—want their leaders to be visible and accessible. You can go from being a mediocre boss to a fantastic one by being personable and keeping in contact with day-to-day employee affairs. When your people see you can descend from the high throne of your office to mix with common folk, they’ll be motivated to work harder for a company they can be proud of—because they see you care about them.
Everyone has seen enough movies and sat in enough waiting rooms to do a perfect “secretary answer” when the phone rings, but with a relaxed social atmosphere creeping into the workplace, proper telephone etiquette is becoming a dying art. However it pays off in big ways. Using a respectful tone, both firm and deferential, paired with intelligent language and courtesy, is the hallmark of a business telephone call. Knowing how to sound both engaging and respectful on the phone can set the tone for enduring business relationships and establish your office as a professional workplace to be reckoned with.
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