How Effectively Do You Partner with Your Boss?

Published: Jan 24, 2019
Modified: Mar 24, 2020

Today, as an administrative professional or administrative assistant you are both administrative manager and leader. You are called on to communicate, plan, organize, negotiate, and participate in decision making at very high levels. Within this evolution of responsibility and authority, the traditional role of secretary is dissolving to be replaced with the proactive role of partner to the boss. You and your boss are involved in a dynamic new type of workplace alliance that calls on both of you to engage in a cooperative partnership to achieve organizational goals and objectives.

The first step toward achieving a productive partnership with your boss is to examine your current relationship. How well do you partner with your boss? Take a moment to answer to the following questions, from the AMA seminar Partnering with Your Boss: Strategic Skills for Administrative Professionals, to see where you currently stand.


Answer each question “yes” or “no,” then read on to interpret your score:

1. Do you and your boss share information, stories, tasks, etc.?  Y/N

2. Do you feel like you are “playing on the same team”?  Y/N

3. Do you have a joint interest in the goals you are trying to achieve?  Y/N

4. Is there a solid alignment between you when it comes to how to achieve mutual goals?  Y/N

5. Do you associate comfortably in an informal setting?  Y/N

6. Do you “know where you stand” with your boss?  Y/N

7. Would you say you work well together?  Y/N

8. Do you trust your boss?  Y/N

9. Does your boss trust you?  Y/N

10. Would you say you are currently “partnering with your boss”?  Y/N

Your Score:

8–10 “yes” answers: You have a solid relationship and partnership with your boss. Focus your attention on ways to improve it.

5–7 “yes” answers: Your work together could probably be more productive and pleasant.  Focus your attention on deficits in skills or differences in your work styles and management approaches, then find answers to help you improve.

1–4 “yes” answers: Your partnership with you boss needs attention and work. Focus your attention on issues of work style, trust, skills and ethics.  You will probably want to build a plan to approach your boss about resolving some issues together.

Some Essential Skills for Successful Partnering
The above assessment identifies the strength level of your current partnership. No matter what your score, every partnership can be improved. The list below shows some essential skills for successful partnering:

  • Knowing Yourself: Knowing who you are, including strengths and liabilities
  • Setting Goals: Identifying what you and your partner want to accomplish and setting a plan
  • Adapting Your Work Style: Recognizing the needs and work style of your partner and adapting as necessary
  • Planning and Managing: Planning and managing your work in tandem with the boss’s
  • Decision Making: Identifying when to make decisions and how to take action
  • Confidence: Presenting your ideas with confidence
  • Collaboration: Performing as an active team-player
  • Being Proactive: Acting proactively versus reactively
  • Productivity: Supporting multiple bosses while maintaining high levels of personal productivity

Moving Forward:

  • List three things you are doing “just right” to be a great partner with the boss.
  • List three things you could do more of or begin doing to be an exceptional partner with the boss.
  • List three things you wish your boss would do to improve your partnership

Get the conversation started!
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Learn more about AMA’s seminar Partnering with Your Boss: Strategic Skills for Administrative Professionals