The unsung heroes of business

The unsung heroes of business

How many times have you passed this most important person when you are visiting an office without thinking that they could make or break a deal? You pass this person without giving them even a simple glance to acknowledge that they might exist, even though without them our very business might never even be accomplished.

Are you wondering who I am talking about? The astute and successful business people will know exactly who I am referring to. Those who still don't know that the most powerful person in any company is the personal assistant are those who have yet to discover the power they yield.

The personal assistant is the gatekeeper that allows access or denies it. And yet when was the last time any of us truly acknowledged this person with a kind word or gesture when we ventured off to someone else's office? Like the invisible person we think they, we hardly acknowledge them as being there, let alone understand what an important role they play in the success or failure of the meeting.

There is this misconceived idea that when the bosses meet and a decision is made that that is a done deal. What is lost on the many people who think along these lines is that information needs to be communicated and papers need to be signed. Now, I am not saying that angry personal assistants would do anything malicious or vindictive but papers can go missing, appointments can be rescheduled and bosses can be made unavailable. This is how important a personal assistant can be in facilitating things within the workplace.

That said, let's look at the positive side of having a good personal assistant. How many times have doors been opened for you or access made possible when you thought that it's unlikely to happen? Appointments that normally should have taken weeks are put in your schedule within days because your personal assistant had the finesse to arrange them for you. Moreover, blocking people who annoy you or waste your time find it harder to see you even though you might be too polite to tell that annoying person that they bother you.

The most important role a personal assistant plays is a role that no one wants but they will bear it for their boss because they are there to assist - to take the blame. How many times have you had a problem with a client or boss who was livid because of a serious mistake on your part? How many times during that precarious situation have you been saved by your personal assistant who takes the blame for you voluntarily? How could anyone not acknowledge what a significant act of heroism that is?

Let's not also forget the simple tasks that they perform such as taking dictations, forwarding messages, answering your phone, organising your calendar - those tasks allow you to have the freedom to concentrate on your business rather than spend time on the simple mundane acts that can cause you to lose concentration and might end up costing your company more than you might have imagined.

Another daunting task that they also commit to is making sure your travel schedule is in order. They are also there to correct it no matter what time of day. I cannot tell you how important this is when you are away from your office. Those who have been frustrated by an unforeseen travel hiccup will understand where I am coming from.

The next time your personal assistant goes on a vacation, see how well you cope in their absence. The value of a superb personal assistant is not when they are there. It is when they are absent that one truly understands the true meaning of the notion of a personal assistant. Truly an unsung hero.

This article is dedicated to my long suffering personal assistant Zulfa.

Mishal Kanoo is the deputy chairman of the Kanoo Group.

Original Article on Arabian Business