A colleague has asked me if she should accept the role of "Assistant to the Managing Director". This is not to be his Executive Assistant, he already has one of those. This is an additional role where she would research specific issues for him, attend meetings on his behalf, represent him when he couldn't be two places at once. It is being sold as a stellar role to launch her career. I see it as a non-role where she does a heap of donkey work and becomes universally hated and sucked up to by the rest of the organisation because she carries the MD's role power without being the MD.

Does anyone have experience of this sort of role; do you use an Assistant to... or have you been one? What would your advice be?



donm's picture
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Just ask the MD to change the role title to Assistant Managing Director. This way, she will have the authority as well as the responsibility. She can work out with the MD what to do in certain situations, as well as restrictions on her authority. For example, she may not be allowed to give new direction to managers who report directly to the MD, but in his absence, she will act as the MD in normal decisions. It is then up to her to determine the immediate course of action, which might include, "Wait until the MD returns to make this decision."

This is why we have Mayors pro tempore, Vice Presidents, and Lieutenants. Someone still has to be in charge, even when the boss is gone, with my apologies to Alexander Haig. What I would not allow or accept would be a "dotted line relationship" to the side, which would be all of the responsibility without the authority.