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Jenny Eaton

Why Does It Feel Like I Fail ...

The harder I try?

Posted on: 05/11/2012   By: Jenny Eaton

As someone from a Customer Services background who stumbled into working as a PA, keeping the customer happy is my number one aim. Being directly responsible to a business owner for the tasks that are in hand really appeals to me ...

it's human nature to take it personally when what we do doesn't live up to expectations

it's human nature to take it personally when what we do doesn't live up to expectations

I like tasks with deadlines and I like knowing where I fit in the big picture. I'm a self confessed perfectionist, I find it hard to submit to the rule that says that "good is good enough". Jacqui will tell you that she sometimes has to reign me in as I could sit and fiddle, fine tune and tweak for days - and maybe even weeks - if I am given the opportunity. Unfortunately within the fast moving, cost and time constrained nature of business I have had to learn that sometimes, you just have to let go.

The difficult part of my job as a PA is balancing the demands of all my bosses - Jacqui included - and meeting their time and cost constraints. Strangely enough though, they all think their work is the most important, some to the point that they forget that I have work other than their own to do!

One client came to us wanting a job completed by lunchtime on a day when we were short staffed and I was covering for someone else, not to mention the fact that I was finishing early that particular day. When I said I would do my best within the constraints that I faced there came an email of complaint!

I wonder if there was a perception that I just sit around waiting for work to come in. Do they think I'm filing my nails with nothing better to do than wait for them to call with 2 hours of work to do and only 90 minutes left for me to do it in?

We recently had to part ways with a customer whose expectations were just too unrealistic. They had a habit of moving the goalposts and changing procedures and systems with very little notice. One of the biggest problems I encountered working for them was facing their continual disappointment. Every time they laid another complaint at my door I felt like I was failing them, Jacqui and myself, which left me feeling even worse!

Yet, I have come to realise that the most important part of any PA/Boss relationship is about delegation and communication. The business owner needs to know what they want and communicate that effectively. Changing your goals and expectations part way through the job - without communicating it - means that being happy with the outcome is impossible! Being vague and simply saying "this isn't right" and not being able to explain why is not going to be effective delegation, is it?

So what have I learnt?

  1. That I need to question my bosses more carefully to understand their expectations, aims and goals. Hopefully this will help them to crystallise their thoughts and enable them to delegate to me more efficiently, thereby making my job much easier.

  2. To ensure they understand that I do not solely work for them but have to manage several bosses and their needs at the same time. We have a hierarchy within our pricing structure which means that clients can guarantee my time across the month (within the agreed time scales) by buying their time upfront. Clients who do not pre book can still buy my time when they need it, but need to be aware of the other work that we have on and that we are not able always to jump straight onto it.

  3. To remember that every business owner believes their baby - sorry I mean business - is the most brilliant, unique and most important thing in their world and therefore should get priority over everyone else. This is important to keep in my mind because it means that they aren't attacking me personally when things don't quite go right; it is simply a reaction to what is happening to their baby.

  4. To remember that I always do my absolute best at all times (I am not someone who will give half effort) and that no one can expect anything more of me.

These have been important lessons for me and I hope that learning them will mean that as I do more PA work it will get easier, I will get better at it and - all in all - I will no longer feel like a failure if things go wrong.

I think I may be growing a stronger, thicker skin as time goes by and have started to take things less personally. But I hope that I don't ever lose that sense of pride in my work that means I always give my best, even under the hardest of circumstances!!

If you would like to know more about our Virtual PA and Administrative services then please call me on +44 (0) 845 901 1803, or click here to ping over an email. I would love to talk about how we can help you out!

Until next time ...


More about Jenny Eaton ...

I love playing with words and I have dreamed of being a writer since I was a child. With a romantic idea of scribbling away in a cold attic room with my trusty fountain pen. I have always dabbled, but until now it’s not come to much.

When I started with The Office Genie it was to provide me with a part time income to support my writing. Over time though I have developed into the Marketing Genie on a full time basis. I love it, I get to play with words all day as I try to share the dream and the passion that Jacqui has turned into The Office Genie. My work involves blogging, letter writing, email writing, web copy writing, e-book writing, campaign planning, strategy planning, social media interactions – it’s like I write and talk all day every day, my parent would say it’s the ideal job for me!

My first blog posts were about my day to day life as a Genie but they are growing into sharing my view of the business world. I am passionate about helping small businesses be the best that they can be, standing out from their competition in the small things that come together to give an impression of great service – to find out how we can help you should call me on the number below.


+44 (0) 1604 529170


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