Secretaries dish the dirt on their bosses

Jul 31 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Organising your boss' mother-in-law's funeral, taking his father to the seaside and researching colonic irrigation – it's all in a day's work, according to a new poll of secretaries and PAs.

The study by office training provider Pitman Training of more than 300 PAs found that being sent out to buy anniversary cards or pick up dry cleaning was the least of it when it came to bosses taking advantage of their secretaries and PAs.

One secretary told the pollsters: "He called me in the UK from his first floor hotel room in Hong Kong and asked me to call the hotel to order him room service."

Another said: "He suggested I work for him whilst he was naked," while a further PA revealed: "I was expected to research colonic irrigation."

Some requests were downright ridiculous, said Pitman. "My boss said I should try to be smaller, to prevent her from feeling intimidated," said one secretary.

While secretaries and PAs were still expected to do more mundane jobs such as sort out breakfast meetings and conference calls, managers were more than happy to ask them to do jobs that, by most accounts, would be beyond the call of duty.

One PA, for instance, revealed in the poll that she had assisted with organising her boss' mother in law's funeral, while another had accompanied her boss' father on a trip to the seaside.

One PA complained about having "to make a cup of tea five times because the boss didn't like it" and another about having to put "posters on lampposts in an effort to find the boss' lost cat". But sometimes things can go too far, and it is all too easy for bosses to get caught out.

One PA was to lie because her boss' husband arrived unexpectedly at the office.

Her boss was miles away in Windsor with her "boyfriend", but a fire broke out at Windsor castle and the mischievous manager was spotted on TV, revealed the Pitman poll.

Michael Graham, managing director Pitman Training, said: "Typically a PA's relationship with their boss is somewhat close, but the PAs we spoke to quite rightly believe that such demands are way beyond their job description.

"Finding time to book your own holiday is difficult enough, never mind booking one for your boss, his wife and his mistress, as one PA claimed she had done," he added.

Nearly nine out of 10 said they wanted their bosses to show a little appreciation from time to time.

Of these, 85 per cent wanted a bonus and 41 per cent favoured time off in return for unreasonable requests.

Just 12 per cent were satisfied with a thank you and, surprisingly, only 1 per cent hankered after a pay rise and just 1 per cent felt it sufficient to feel respected and valued.