It’s vitally important that you understand how to operate and manage all the technology used by your Boss. Whether it’s the personal computer, the secure telephone, the typewriter, the FAX, or the conference room projector, there will be times when you will be the only one available on short notice. Don’t get caught short—here are some tips.
Personal Computer and E-mail
If your Boss has a personal computer on his/her desk with E-mail, you have some additional responsibilities. Again, however, you should get your Boss’ guidance on these issues before implementing them. After all, E-mail is much the same as listening to a telephone conversation—some Bosses want you to have access, some will not. If your Boss is computer literate, he/she will likely prefer to manage his/her own E-mail account. Otherwise, you may need to help. Here are some things to think about.
Each morning before the Boss arrives, turn on the computer and log it into E-mail. This presumes the Boss is willing to give you the password.
Consider creating some personal folders or storage locations in the Boss’ E-mail account for saving important messages for future reference.
Consider having a special training session for the Boss on the use of his/her personal computer.
If the Boss wants you to manage the E-mail account, work out such details as: how long to keep already read messages; how long to keep messages the Boss generates; development of standard or group addresses to give the Boss quick short cuts and improve his/her efficiency; etc.
Also, make sure you and your Boss understand how to use/access remote E-mail capability. Create a quick reference sheet for him/her on this procedure. It would be a good idea to pre-load the appropriate telephone numbers. Also, prior to departing TDY, or at least weekly if the travel schedule is light, check your Boss’ laptop to ensure it has fully charged batteries, the modem works, the spare floppy diskettes are available, and the electrical cord is packed. Log into the remote system using your Boss’ user id/password and send yourself an E-mail message.
Finally, have some process in place to handle the Boss’ E-mail if he/she is out of the office for an extended period of time. Many E-mail systems include an automatic “out of office” manager, whereby E-mail messages are forwarded to someone else (in this case, you most likely) and the sender is notified that the Boss is out. However, if this capability does not exist on your system, you need to build a process. It is highly recommended that the Exec handle the account because the Boss’ heavy schedule may not allow time while TDY.
As a final note, keep the name and number of the computer technical experts handy. If the Boss has a problem with his system, you’ll want immediate action to repair or correct.
Telephones can be a very frustrating arena if you don’t fully understand your capabilities. You’ll need to ensure, first of all, that your Boss’ phone works. At least weekly, check out all his hot lines and speed dial capabilities. Know how to forward/transfer/conference calls.
If your Boss has a secure telephone, you need to know how to use it. Check it out weekly, and update the crypto key at the required interval. You don’t want to have your Boss attempting to place or receive a secure call to find out the phone does not go secure. Check with your telephone control officer and know the ropes.
As a final note, task your telephone education monitor to create a quick reference sheet showing how to perform the more complicated telephone functions. A copy of the sheet should be in your Continuity Book. Appendix E shows a sample table of contents typical for an Exec’s Continuity Book.
There are probably many office automation tools used by your Boss and those who support him/her. You need to know how they work and be comfortable using them. In fact, you need to be familiar (probably an expert) with computer applications used in the unit, i.e., word processor, spreadsheet, graphics, database, etc. You’ll often find you are the only person available at 1700 on Friday before a 3-day weekend, and your Boss needs to make a last minute change to a briefing, speech, PRF, OPR, or other hot correspondence. If you don’t know how to make it happen, your Boss just encountered an obstacle you overlooked.
So, spend the time up front and learn the office automation applications. If possible, do this BEFORE you arrive for the job. Look and ask around, there may be training classes you can attend to help yourself.
The same rules apply here as in office automation and telephones—you need to know how things work. If a projector bulb burns out, you should know how to replace it. If the sound needs adjusting, you need to know how to adjust it. If your Boss is briefing a VIP and suddenly decides to show a film, you need to know how to make it happen. Being able to perform the tasks listed above is just another way of helping the Boss -- Don’t get caught short. Have a process in place and access to the technical experts until you have a handle on it. Also, know where spare parts are kept in the event you need an item.
As a final note, task the appropriate individual(s) to create a quick reference sheet showing how to perform the more complicated tasks. A copy of this sheet should be in your Continuity Book.