my new boss treats me like her personal assistant

A reader writes:

I’m a departmental assistant at my current job and have been here almost 2-1/2 years. I like my job but in January, my old boss was let go and a new boss started. Our company is set up in a way that there is usually a director or VP, manager, and an assistant in each department (sales, marketing, planning etc.). So essentially, the department assistant helps with the adminstrative work functions for that department. My old boss was a manager, but they replaced her with someone at the Director level, and she seems to think that I am her own personal assistant.

She’s very demeaning and always telling me to do personal, non-work related tasks for her. I have to pick up her coffee, order her lunch, run out and get her frozen yogurt, schedule her hair salon appointments, and even go and pick up cupcakes for her kid’s birthday party, all while staying on top of my own department work. None of the other assistants have to do any of this, and I didn’t have to do it in the past. The worst part is that my boss never asks (she leaves stickies on my desk or sends emails) or says thank you for doing any of this. She just assumes because I am her assistant that I have to do it. Her notes and emails generally are the “have this done by this time….” or “I need you to do this before….” variety. In the past, I’ve taken the “this isn’t a priority” approach with her, and she always says something like do it when I get a chance, but sends follow up emails/texts and calls until it’s done.

Last week, I flat-out refused to call and work out an issue with the airline for her family vacation. I responded to email (which came 10 minutes before closing) that I was finishing up a project and that I needed to get out on time because I had something scheduled after work. She’s on vacation now but scheduled to return on Monday. Now I’m nervous because I don’t know if I handled this the right way. I’m thinking about going to HR, but I don’t want to seem like a whiny, complaining employee. I don’t mind doing my job and I probably wouldn’t mind helping her out with non-work related issues if it wasn’t on a consistent basis. Please help.

You need to start by talking to your boss, but if you’re not comfortable doing that, you should talk to HR.

Ideally, though, you’d talk to your boss first — because if you skip her and go straight to HR, she’s rightly going to feel like you should have let her have the chance to hear and address your concerns first.

Sit down with your boss and say something like this:  “I wanted to talk with you about my work. I’ve noticed that you’ve been giving me a lot of personal-assistant type tasks, like getting cupcakes for your daughter’s birthday or picking up your lunch. In the past, this type of work wasn’t part of my job. I know, of course, that there are assistants where that is the job — but it hasn’t been part of mine or the other assistants here, and I didn’t know if you realized that. I’m willing to do something like that on occasion when you’re in a bind, but I’d rather stay focused on the work I was hired to do.”

Best case scenario, she’s mortified, says she didn’t realize that wasn’t part of the job, and stops assigning you personal tasks. (This is really a possible outcome. There are organizations where personal assistance like this is part of the job, and she might have come from one.)

However, if she pushes back or doesn’t stop assigning you personal work, then you do need to go to HR as a next step.

Going to HR isn’t so much about “reporting” her; it’s about getting clarity about whether this is okay for her to do or not. You’d be asking them to help you figure out if this is appropriate or not. (Be sure to give specific examples — like the cupcake one, which is ridiculous — and explain that even when you’ve told her it would interfere with your work, you’ve been directed to do it anyway. And you should also be clear that she hasn’t been asking you to do this stuff as an occasional favor, but rather ordering you to do it regularly.)

It’s possible that HR will tell you that this is actually okay for her to do. And if that’s the case, you have to decide if you want the job or not. But there’s a stronger chance that HR is going to step in and put at stop to it. If that happens, you should also talk to HR about the fact that you’re concerned that speaking with them will cause tension in your relationship with her, and ask them for their help in mitigating that. (A good HR department will make it clear to her that there can’t be any repercussions to you for speaking with them, but you might need to ask for it.)

In sum: Speak up, be straightforward, and seek clarity from above if necessary.

{ 70 comments… read them below }

  1. Ed*

    I usually have the opposite problem- I’m an executive assistant to the executives that manage a team, and sometimes the folks on that team interpret that as me being their secretary as well. Wouldn’t matter if it was a small team, but it’s too big for me to be handling meetings, printouts, travel, etc. for everyone and still get the job done for my execs.

    1. EM*

      Maybe politely say, “well, I have x, y, and z to finish for Execs Smith and Jones. Maybe I’ll have time to get to this next week, is that okay?” That might clue them into the fact that supporting the Executives is your job and you might be able to squeeze in a favor for them. Maybe. If you have time. ;)

      1. moe*

        This is a good suggestion.

        Another way to do this, if they don’t get the hint, is to tell them you are busy with Important Person’s work, but you will advise IP of the request and see what IP says about fitting it into your schedule. If the request is silly, they will usually say oh no, they actually do have time to do it themselves.

        Level three, when it’s a really ridiculous task, is to ask them to route the request through Important Person themselves. I actually had someone go ask the senior VP if I could please pack up their desk when we moved offices–simply because they didn’t want to. It didn’t go well for them.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Heh. I used to do that too. We had a manager that would try to push lame stuff he didn’t want to do off on me. I was the only clerical worker, but I was NOT his direct report. So I just told him to ask my boss first. The requests went away after that.

    2. fposte*

      Do you–does anybody–know who is supposed to be doing it for them? Then you could just say “That’s actually Thomas’s area, but I can pass it over to him.”

      But if it’s because nobody knows who to ask for what, then your boss needs to make the support structure clearer.

    3. mh_76*

      Also update your email signature to read “Executive Assistant to [executives that manage a team / team management executives / name the executives / etc]”]. It might be long to type and read but it will get the point across and you will likely need to use the alternate signature for a short time.

      [When I had an EA job (years ago), there was one person who was downright rude and another person who (though a very kind gent) asked me for coffee (and was kindly referred to one of the local coffee shops). I solved both problems by bringing in my framed college diploma (from X Univ., where I worked after coll.) and placing it on a shelf in a very visible location.]

      1. TracyDee*

        Back when I was doing the EA thing in the mid nineties, it was par for the course for an executive assistant to have a Bachelors’ Degree. Is that no longer the norm?

    4. The flip-side*

      To play devil’s advocate… Sometimes I have to ask my boss’s EA to help me do something to benefit our boss. My boss tends to forget paperwork-type things, so I often end up checking that the boss got things done or doing them myself so the boss can just sign. This is not a part of my job. In fact, these are EA-boss joint resposibilities, but it is just simpler to step in and work with boss’s EA to get it done. Then I can move on with the next steps. I NEVER request anything for myself, always preface that it is being done to help the boss get x done, and really try to be extra-polite. But my boss’s new EA is offended (has even yelled at me) whenever I ask for help to get the boss’s task completed. So… consider that in some cases the people asking you may not be properly explaining that this is not for themselves, but an offer to help you help your joint-boss. — Now if they really are just trying to give you extra responsibilities, referring them to the right person is the easiest way to politely say no. No one should have an issue with that, because you helped solve their problem.

  2. Piper*

    Dear Lord. Do you work for Miranda Priestly? Sorry, OP, that’s a rough situation.

    I had a boss do this to me at my last job. And I wasn’t even an assistant of any kind, much less his. I was a high-level specialist hired to do very specific specialized work (and paid well for it, too, so running errands wasn’t really the best use of his budget). But nonetheless, he decided that it was better for me to be ordering his lunch, picking up his lunch, running his personal and business errands, and so forth, than to be doing the actual work I was hired to do.

    And he was a pompous, condescending ass. He had no idea how to manage and thought that being someone’s boss meant that the employee was automatically his assistant regardless of job title or function. I hated that place for so many reasons.

    1. Ivy*

      Wow I feel like your situation was 100times worse than OP’s. I’m inclined to think OP’s new boss honestly thinks its apart of her job description. In my office, the exec admins actually do this kind of thing (ok maybe not the cupcake runs). I feel like if she explains that this isn’t the way it work at this office, her boss will stop making these personal requests.

      Piper, your boss was just on a permanent power trip. Very unfortunate :(

    2. EM*

      Ugh. In my experience, only those that feel weak go on power trips like this. Those that have actual power don’t.

    3. DawnSpringHR*

      I may be opening a barrel of worms, but . . . are you female? If so, what happened to you sounds like the result of a chauvinist who sees women as assistants, no matter their job title.

      1. fposte*

        I saw similar behavior in a female previous colleague, though. It can certainly happen as a result of sexism, but it’s not limited to that.

        1. jmkenrick*

          I agree. I definitely consider myself a feminist, but I think egregious behavior such as Piper described is usually the work of a generally arrogant person.

          Where sexism comes into play is that culturally-established gender roles/stereotypes give this kind of person a readily-accessible tool to justify and legitimize their bad behavior to both themselves and others.

      2. saro*

        This happened to my other female colleagues at a previous job (I’m female). I was lucky enough to have a highly placed female supervisor who ran interference so I didn’t do this type of thing. It was really difficult to watch and taught me how to politely refuse to do certain types of work…

      3. Piper*

        I am female, but this guy was just a jerk to everyone, male, female, it didn’t matter. Eventually, I started refusing to do that type of work. I also went to the contracting company who actually employed me and informed them of the issue. That basically put a stop to his shenanigans, but he managed to be a jerk in different ways and basically block me at every step of the way.

        I was so glad when he got promoted and I got a new boss, who was reasonable and wonderful. And rumor has it my old boss was one of those people who everybody hates, but the company refuses to fire despite bad performance. So they just kept moving him around from department to department in hopes someone would be able to tolerate him.

    4. Heather*

      I’ve got a doozy for ya: my last boss (a narcissist of the highest order) actually had it on our office manager’s schedule to schedule his vasectomy. Seriously. Oh, and she also had to negotiate the price he’d pay for his (stay at home) wife’s new car and pick it up.

      BOUNDARIES ARE GOOD, people. God. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

      1. Lilybell*

        This is not as “out there” as you think – I assume you’ve never been an assistant. I did stuff like this for my favorite boss all the time – I used to schedule all of his appointments, including his colonoscopies, and one time he asked me to go buy him both Pepto and Preparation H. That was an embarrassing trip to the drugstore. But he was kind and generous and still the best boss I’ve ever had.

        1. Kelly O*

          I think this illustrates the wide distance that can exist between a personal assistant and an administrative assistant.

          I’ve done a few personal things for bosses before. Never this level. Never even the level you’re describing. It’s not necessarily common, and really depends on the company and your role.

          I think that’s why it’s so important for the OP to follow AAM’s advice. Clarify the boundaries.

        2. EngineerGirl*

          I can’t imagine this happening in a publicly held company. This goes so far beyond what I’ve ever seen that it is hard to conceive. I believe you, but am having a hard time getting my mind around it.

          1. Lilybell*

            I guess the financial industry in NYC is it’s own little world. No assistant would bat an eye at extremely personal requests – and if they did they wouldn’t last long. But please understand we are paid very well to manage these people’s lives for them. There is no way I would do this kind of work for someone that I didn’t respect or if I didn’t feel I was being compensated fairly.

            1. Anonymous*

              I think the disconnect here is that this person was an office manager – not a personal assistant. Of course this work is normal and routine for PAs, but it’s very unusual for a job titled “Office Manager” which usually relates more to strictly company-related tasks like bookkeeping, record management, vendor relations, scheduling, contract renewals, statutory registrations, filing, new hire onboarding, etc.

        1. anonymous*

          I learned that people who have a “director position” takes the power of those words to instigate the people below them. Most of the time they feel inferior and use their title to be in power .
          I think that it is important to comfront the boss and put your points in place as to divide the duties and responsibilites. Once you show who you are, she should not mess with you again.

          1. Jamie*

            That is painting a lot of people with a very negative brush.

            There are as many different approaches to that position as their are people with Director in their title.

  3. Lilybell*

    Hmm, I think this is a tough one. Mainly because if you talk to the boss first and she says “too bad” and then you go to HR, she will probably be furious with you for going over her head. If your HR is anything like my company’s, they will call your boss and warn her that you are complaining instead of actually helping you with your problem and then life will be miserable for you. I guess it really depends on the integrity of your HR dept.

    I’m an executive assistant and have been at the same place for 8 years. I’ve always had the same role working for the Managing Director of a huge division, but the executive role is a revolving door and I’ve had 4 bosses so far. Two had me do personal work and two didn’t – it never crossed my mind to turn it down even though no other admins here do personal work. To me, it’s the nature of the job. But then again, I am paid very well and was always thanked for it (and given $$$ for it at Xmas). It would be a different story if I had a boss that didn’t appreciate my going above and beyond for her.

    1. HR Gorilla*

      Ah, but that’s the bind that HR (and managers) are in when they receive complaints: we do our best to maintain confidentiality, but there are many, many situations where it isn’t feasible.

      In this type of scenario, I generally approach it from a “now that you’ve had a chance to settle into your new Director role here, let’s discuss your team…” and then touch on the principal roles that Director manages, including the assistant. When discussing the assistant’s role, it can naturally progress to the duties and expectations of departmental assistants. The thing is, though, very often, the Director often easily guesses that the assistant has spoken to HR.

      So, whenever an employee (any employee) comes to me with concerns/complaints, one of the first things I tell them is that I do my very best to maintain discretion and confidentiality, BUT the person about whom they’re complaining may likely know who complained.

      I don’t think any of the above compromises integrity (mine included!). Also, I’m a huge fan of transparency wherever possible, and anyone qualified for a director-level position ought to be willing, able, and prepared to discuss any concerns their team members may have–anonymous or no.

      1. Lilybell*

        I completely understand the bind you reference, but that’s not what I mean at all. The things you mention are signs of a healthy HR dept. My HR Dept. is only interested in making sure our executives are happy. My former boss was doing something very illegal in the office- when our VP complained to HR, our HR director called my boss and warned her to cover her butt because people were starting to ask questions. To me that’s pretty shady. That’s just one small example – the same HR person fired someone for complaining about our president’s unethical behavior (in a supposedly anonymous survery). And now they wonder why no one fills out our employee surveys! The HR person mentioned above ended up getting fired for giving out contracts to friends without bidding them out first (we are required by law to do so), but the dept. remains full of people just like her. They fired a woman just last week after she complained about sexual harrassment. Of course the guy that was accused didn’t even get a slap on the wrist (and he’s a huge pervert).

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Whoops, submitted that before I was finished. What you’re describing is pretty far afield from even most dysfunctional workplaces — you’re talking about an employer breaking the law in at least two egregious ways. So I think it’s probably not quite the right reference point for more typical workplaces!

          1. Lilybell*

            You are right – but there are some awful HR depts out there (as I’m sure you see every day in submisisons you get). I wish we could take action, but our company is corrupt at every level.

    2. Kimmie Sue*

      In my experience an Executive Assistant and an Administrative Assistant are two very distinct roles. AAs may provide general administrative support to multiple people (calendars, documentation, travel, supply ordering, etc) but stay away from the personal tasks. Executive Assistants do all of the same things; may get dry cleaning, handle personal appointments, do board minutes, etc. Very common to have an EA doing that type of work. They are typically highly compensated for their skills and their discretion.

      1. Lilybell*

        That’s a really good point, Kimmie Sue. Our administrative assistants don’t do personal work, just the high-level EA’s. I didn’t think of that when I wrote my original comment.

  4. Anon 1*

    Yes, you should definitely say something to your boss, especially if you are planning a career in that field and this is the entry-level job, as opposed to a career as an admin/executive assistant.

    My first job was an assistant and, much like your job, the job was to handle the administration needs for the department, not personal tasks. Of course, if I was given a random personal task when my boss was in a bind, I would help out (my boss very occasionally asked me to get her coffee or lunch, but only when she was very busy/stressed out). However, getting cupcakes isn’t going to help your career any, so you should definitely say something (and be ready to move on if she or HR says your job is now to be a personal assistant).

  5. Sabrina*

    I’ve been an AA in the past and my take on it was always that asking for stuff like this, when it’s not part of the job, is no different than stealing from the company. Whether you’re taking home a case of paper to use in your home printer or spending 75% of your time shopping online, it’s theft. They are just stealing your time, which the company is paying for, to do their personal errands.

    I do agree that you should sit her down with examples and let her know that these sorts of things are out of scope for your role. Like Alison said, if she came from a company where this was accepted practice, then she may not know better.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I would disagree that this is like stealing from the company. All the executives I work with are on the road constantly and donate a lot of personal time to the company. If the director asks someone making one quarter of her salary to get her lunch so she can personally work through lunch, it makes sense and is actually a better deal for the company (i.e. you get 10 hrs fewer of productive work from the lower paid employee but the tradeoff is 10 more hrs beyond 40/wk from the higher paid person).

      1. Elizabeth*

        I think it depends on whether the company has structured things like that or not, though, and it sounds like this company hasn’t. It’s demeaning to give someone these tasks when she was hired to do other things. Also, while I agree with you that perhaps having an assistant get the director lunch could be a win for the company, having an administrative assistant schedule the director’s salon appointments doesn’t seem valid.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Being demeaning and amounting to stealing from the company are two completely different things. I’d be furious if I had to start doing that type of thing, so I can agree it’s demeaning if that’s not what you signed up for.

          I’m kind of curious how things are structured there. My company has dept. admins that sound like the OP’s job and other admins who are executive assistants. If the OP’s previous boss was at a manager level and the new boss is at a director level, there could definitely be a disconnect in expectations, as the first may have been used to NOT having a personal executive admin assistant, but the new one IS used to that.

          I don’t know about hair appts and cupcakes because our executives are all male with wives who do that for them, but I really don’t think it’s unreasonable to have an assistant do that type of thing for you, depending on what “director” level really means at that company. However, I’d say the assistant would have to be an executive admin assistant who had expectations to do that, not a department admin assistant.

    2. moe*

      Re: “stealing” from the company–

      I think it’s reasonable to have an AA help out with personal things here when the role is so demanding that there isn’t much of a personal life. Someone who travels every week, glued to their smartphone 24 hours a day, etc.–I can see it being more efficient to have the AA make an appointment or work on travel than for that person to drop everything and do it themselves. Sometimes. Once in awhile.

      IME, it’s rare for a company to explicitly state that an AA is or isn’t to help out upper management in this way. I also think it’s possible that OP simply is unaware of what the company expectation is for supporting a director or above, which may well be different from supporting a manager.

      Was this director at the company before, or an outside hire? It wasn’t clear to me from the letter. If she’s someone from inside the org, she may actually be more aware of the norms than an AA who’s only had one boss and a tenure of 2.5 years…

      1. K.*

        It sounded like an outside hire to me; the OP made it sound like the culture at the company is that “admin assistant” and “personal assistant” aren’t synonymous and the new hire didn’t know that. (I’ve never worked at a company where this is true, but they definitely abound.) It would be good to get clarification, though.

  6. Maire*

    I don’t think getting someone’s lunch or coffee is unreasonable.
    However, getting an employee to do personal tasks like booking hair appts and picking up cupcakes is way out of line.
    The company is not paying an employee to do your personal errands.

  7. Aja*

    AAM’s advice is very good, I would add that you keep a short log for a week of what she is asking you to do and how much time it took and have a couple of egrigious past examples too (cupcakes!). This will help your discussion with HR. What you are experiencing – new boss comes in and does things differently – is not unusual, but it sounds like this boss is handling it in a crummy way (not talking to you about it, leaving notes/emails).

    In general, I do think it’s best to speak up about issues as they happen. It sounds like it’s been well over 6 months that this has been going on and that has the potential to complicate the discussion you have with the director. If I were her, I would ask why you waited so long to bring it up so you may want to think through how you will respond to to that. Although it miught seem unfair, it could reflect poorly on you that you didn’t say anything for months. It may come across as someone who is not able to confront issues head-on (this assumes you work in a place that values forthrightness – I do notwork in that type of environment so speakingup after 8 months would not be an issue where I work, but it could be in companies that value assertiveness).

    Although personal chores are sometimes part of a dept. assistant’s role, the OP stated that this is not the case at her company. so while getting coffee, lunch, yogurt, etc. might be reasonable in other poster’s experience, in this case, it represents both a change to OP’s job duties and a divergence from how this role functions in other depts at her company. What it will come down to is – will the company support the new boss and allow her to change OP’s job responsibilites or not? I’m a cynic so I think the option of the boss being mortified is an unlikely one :)

    1. AmyRenee*

      I would second the suggestion to keep a log, of personal tasks as well as your regular projects. Try to create a rough log of how it used to be with your old boss. Then present it to your boss as – I used to spend 20 hours a week on these tasks and 18 on those plus 2 on personal tasks, but this week I spent 15 hours on personal tasks for you and I don’t have time to do my regular duties. Maybe that will get the hint for them.
      Also, have you talked to other people at your company at your level in other departments? Are other assistants performing personal tasks or is this specific to your manager?

  8. Camellia*

    Immediately start saving all the emails, sticky notes, etc. as documentation and take these to HR if you find it necessary to do so.

    And if you have to keep doing these errands you should be able to submit an expense report for mileage, since I am guessing you are using your personal car.

  9. Anonymous*

    I had a boss who thought I was his personal assistant (not, my title wasn’t even close to that) and used to cal me ‘girl.’ Girl fetch me this, fetch me that. He left after eight months, but man, he was something.

  10. Cassie*

    I think some clarification is definitely in order. There are a bunch of us who are sort of like executive assistants (although we also handle the financials for our individual boss’s team) and though our job descriptions are virtually the same, our actual duties can vary a lot. And while you’re stewing away at having to run personal errands for your boss, she may not have a clue that it’s not SOP.

    Speaking of colonscopies, I had to schedule one for my boss and one of my coworkers had to pick her boss up from the hospital after his colonscopy. Another assistant picks up lunch for her boss and washes his coffee cups for him. You won’t see me washing coffee cups (I can hardly remember to wash my own!). I get that the bosses are busy and may not have time to go buy lunch, but if it was an everyday thing, I would be annoyed. (Luckily, my boss often brings lunch from home so I don’t have to worry about this – he’s never asked me to get him lunch).

  11. Natalie*

    Next time, hand them the phone book and say I’m sure you can find a personal assistant in there somewhere…OR…give them my website address as I am a Virtual Assistant, and simply cannot get up and get their coffee as I am hundreds (thousands?) of miles away. :-)
    I am happy to make their appointments, change flight schedules, etc., for a fee…of course.

  12. Confused*

    I’m not saying I disagree with the OP’s frustration but I’m curious, why does this not fall under the “your employer can change your job description anytime she wants”? Is it because running errands outside of the office can put the company in a position to be liable?

    To the OP: even if running personal errands now falls under your job description the company should be reimbursing you for mileage.

    1. CJ*

      I think because it’s reasonable to change someone’s tasks to further the company’s work, but things like fetching cupcakes and dry cleaning are such sudden departures from the OP’s prior business duties that they make no good business sense. They only benefit the boss personally instead of being directly beneficial to the company.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Legally, sure, your employer can change your job description any time they want. But we’re not talking legalities in this case. I think there’s a very good chance that (a) the new boss doesn’t realize people in the OP’s role aren’t used in personal assistants in this company and that (b) even if she doesn’t care, HR will and will put a stop to it if they learn about it. So it’s really about everyone getting clarity — the new boss about the OP’s role, HR about what’s going on, and the OP herself about whether this is or isn’t something the company is okay with.

  13. Chocolate Teapot*

    It sounds like the new boss had a PA at their previous role.

    In a previous job, I was a Team Assistant, but available for PA duties if the department head needed it. (Travel arrangements, client restaurant bookings etc.) He had a PA, but she was part time, and always seemed to be away when something major cropped up…

  14. Kelly O*

    The really interesting thing about this whole discussion to me is that we’re seeing the wide range of things that people feel are perfectly reasonable for an assistant to handle. Believe me, I’ve done administrative support in all sorts of companies and I’ve seen a lot.

    It also seems like a good time to point out that it’s important for anyone to clarify the roles of their team when they start, and if they plan to make changes to those roles. Communication is great, but it needs to run both ways, especially when you’re new. Understanding your company’s existing culture and clearly explaining any expectation you may have that might be different can really help avoid frustration and hurt feelings.

  15. Jess*

    I think a lot of what is seen as reasonable or unreasonable comes from the attitude involved: if your boss is treating you with respect, it’s a totally different barrel of monkeys, even if the request is the same.
    For example, I am in no way assistant of any kind, but if I’m heading to the kitchen my manager will occassionally ask me to bring him a cup of coffee too– this is totally fine. It was NOT totally fine when my previous boss at a different company would demand I bring her one, particularly when she did it when I was in the middle of other things and she was just too lazy to go get it herself.

    But then again, this was also the woman who thought it was reasonable, when she arrived in the office, to dump her purse, laptop etc on the receptionist’s desk, and expect her to follow her up the stairs to her office and set up her things for her. Near the end she even had a pair of slippers she liked to wear around the office when clients weren’t in, and she’d expect the receptionist to have those waiting for her when she arrived (the receptionist would then be expected to carry her shoes to her office as well).

    I think this is more a power trip for people who feel powerless than anything else: my horrible terrible boss was in the process of losing her company, and was scrambling to continue on in the lifestyle to which she’d become accustomed. Demanding and demeaning the staff was part of making her feel important, and when she’d yell down the hall for me to go make her coffee, or get a staffer to go get her dairy queen (and not offer to make it a run for everyone, which would have been delightful :P), she was showing us all how very very important she was. I suppose for a little while at least, she can pretend this was ‘respect’. . .

    1. Jill of All Trades*

      I remember this from a while back – has her business failed or is she still holding on? Did she hire anyone to replace you when you left? Did you hear from her after you left? My inquiring mind wants to know!

  16. Chocolate Teapot*

    This sounds horribly like “The Devil wears Prada”. Mind, they say that truth is stranger than fiction…

  17. iceyone*

    I don’t mind doing something for my boss if I have time and they are appreciative of the effort involved!

    If they are anything like Miranda Priestley (and yes bosses like this do exist – both male and female!) then forget about it.

    I would suggest bosses treat their assistants with respect and thank them for their efforts – if they resign you may not be able to find someone so dedicated without having to pay a lot more!

  18. Anonymous*

    Personal assistant is totally different from EA or AA. EA and AA are not personal assistants – you can keep it straight by referring to the title! :) Office manager currently means receptionist …very different from the original definition of the title. And, often office managers are like personal assistants, not EAs or AAs.

  19. Andrew Lanutti*

    This is the same stuff that goes on at my place of work and it is also the perfect example of someone who is insecure and wants to control everyone as most corporate managers want to do. They take it past the point of the constraints of their job and the only power they have is to hang your job in front of you and the loss of your job and income to support your family. Additionally, they usually carry this outside of the job and expect you do bow down to them..Really..They need their legs broken Tony Soprano style..then they will wake up.

  20. Es Smith*

    Is it acceptable to be demanded to take your boss home if you drove to work? I’m the only person in my office who drives to work so I’ve been given the company parking pass to use (unless we have people coming into the office, in which case I give the pass to them and find parking elsewhere) and my boss basically tells me that I am taking him home. Is this allowed?

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