As the role of PA becomes the career choice of an increasing number of ambitious individuals, the variety of courses geared at enhancing specific support skills also grows. Nicole Holgate examines some of the options. Developed by former PA Lindsay Taylor, ‘Be a PA with PA – Perfect Awareness’ and ‘Perfecting Your Awareness’ are one-day workshops that carry the endorsement of the IAM (Institute of Administrative Management). They aim to provide communication, awareness and rapport-building skills to admin professionals with a focus on creating a strong professional identity and ensuring that a PA’s time is spent as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Lindsay personally delivers the training with an emphasis on experiential learning so that new skills are memorable, practical and instantly usable. The courses involve a combination of demonstrations, group exercises and discussions. ‘Be a PA with PA’ begins with topics such as why neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is effective in day-to-day working relationships, how to develop a rapport with someone, plus language comprehension and how people process the world. ‘Perfecting Your Awareness’ continues to develop these skills using concepts such as how to avoid miscommunication and identifying criteria for making decisions.
’Be a PA with PA’ is a monthly open workshop, or can be arranged in-house. An open workshop costs £240, which includes full course notes, personalised technique cards, takeaway gift and certificate of attendance. ‘Perfecting Your Awareness’ is available in-house on request.
Tried and tested
Nicola Herbert is a Project Administrator at BP and attended both courses. ‘Be a PA with PA’, with its focus on NLP, gave her “an understanding of how we perceive and communicate with individuals through words, tones, and body language.” She also learned about achieving personal outcomes. The follow-on course “developed those skills even further.”
As she progressed she recognised what makes her and the staff she supports ‘tick’ and she felt that the courses provided a fascinating insight into her communication skills and how to influence, with integrity, the people with whom she works.
She adds that Lindsay made both courses great fun. The exercises “really got you thinking and kept you motivated and stimulated throughout the day.” She agrees that these communication tools are a must in today’s office culture. “Most administrators have to work for more than one person and building rapport and trust is key to anyone’s role.”
Nicola returned to her job with a heightened awareness of not only the various management styles around her, but “more importantly, the way individuals communicated and related to me.” She comments that it was an eye-opener as it improved the channels she uses for communication and has changed her approach to work for the positive, allowing her to pick up on varying communication styles in the office and how people inform you of their wishes. “I realised that as someone who was reliant on visual communication, I could relay the same information to someone who was more focussed on auditory or kinaesthetic (multi-sensory) communication.”
This was particularly useful to her role, as the company has staff from various countries and with differing cultural backgrounds. “It has made me more sensitive to how you are perceived in the workplace.”
She concludes that “whether you are a very experienced PA or someone just out of college,” this is a great way to improve your communication, in and out of the office.
Lindsay Taylor is co-director of executive training and coaching organisation Your Excellency. She will be holding a seminar entitled “If you believe you can or believe you cannot, either way you are likely to be right” at the Office show at 3.30pm on 8 October in Theatre 2.