The Right PA
The Right PA
“Selection can be a pain in the derriere to say the least…..”
From time to time one has to recruit a PA, whether on a personal basis regarding care or on a professional basis regarding supporting one with workload. I do not think that you should combine the two types though; I can hardly look my carers in the face after personal care. I certainly don’t want them thinking of me in the buff as we are in investment meetings. I think the personality for each role is slightly different and obviously the skills sets are different too. The physical carer needs to be skilled in assisting someone to maximise their independence even though this obviously sounds like a contradiction, but it really isn’t. If I get the right care and support, if my health and hygiene are good, and my body well cared for, even if by a second party doing this for me, it allows me greater independence without having to worry about the physical. I would expect a physical based PA to be skilled in all aspects of my individual needs, my wants and needs from an organic perspective, be an expert in my needs relating to the Activities of Daily Living. Ultimately I really don’t care what else they are trained in, as long as they have, or have been taught, the skills to keep this deteriorating body functioning, which allows me to work, be an employer, and be more independent. Get it wrong and I end up ill and unable to access society, become more dependant as my needs will have increased re pressure area care, pneumonia risks, etc.
So the care focussed PA’s need to be very skilled, and be able to apply that to my needs and how I want those needs met. For me that is the crucial element I look for, meeting my needs my way! Anyone trying to tell me how to have my needs met and trying to meet my needs in the way they want to do them is going to be launched through the window, it just isn’t going to happen. My home, my body, my condition, my needs, met my way, or get lost and out of my house. This is the minimum I expect before we even get to the skills set, and if their personality is not what you are looking for then it just will not work, regardless of how experienced or skilled they are. You have to get to know the person, hence a probation period. You have to feel comfortable with the person, as they will be delivering the most intimate of care, and they have to be able to minimise the embarrassment and humiliation experienced from having those needs met. People always tell me I miss out ‘maintaining dignity’, there is no dignity in having your ass wiped, being incontinent, being naked and showered, washed and buffed. So let’s drop the whole nonsense about dignity, it is about minimising humiliation in my reality. So it is about personality first and foremost, I can train people and give people skills, but I have learnt over the years that I cannot do anything about personality, it either matches what I need and I am comfortable with the person, or it doesn’t – end of!
Now the company PA, the commerce focussed PA, is about having a personality that looks after the detail, looks at forward arrangements, using their initiative to great effect. In common with the ‘care’ based PA they have to have the right personality, I like to think a little more OCD, this would make my daughter laugh. My youngest makes lists for her lists and just the other day I sent her a text after watching her tear a piece of paper into the smallest pieces, all the same size, placing them in the neatest pile. She is so very OCD at times, yet she leaves a hurricane force of destruction behind her. The kitchen often looks like a tsunami washed debris through it when she has been cooking, yet with the details of her chemistry or biology she is compulsively and obsessively accurate to the detail. I think this marks the personality of a great PA, they are future high achievers in commerce, well the ones I recruit are, that want to use the pathway a MD’s PA offers in learning the skills they need to match the personality traits, the foundations if you will. So this is the focus, the right foundation onto which one can build a really skilled PA to support you in business and that of your team.
I have recruited both types of PA in my time and a few times, as business based PA’s have often moved onwards and upwards within my organisations, effectively serving an apprenticeship in private commerce as my right hand, they become ideal for heading up projects that they have seen grow from concept through to commercial entity. In a way if you are working closely with a PA you do end up developing them, as the role is quite different from that of a Secretary. A Secretary is very important too and I do not mean to diminish their role in any way at all, I have worked with some really intelligent and wonderful people in the role of Secretary. However, the PA is more dynamic and takes on out of company projects, as well as looking after the MD allowing them to fully focus on the quality of the organisational delivery and the development of the commercial markets. I know some people in high commercial office that prefer a Secretary to a PA, and nothing wrong with that, but my mind and my personality calls for a PA and I work well with this type of person.
On a final note, I do not have my business PA help me with my personal care, never do I allow them to cross the boundaries of physical care. It muddies the water too much and I would find that it would embarrass me far too much. Yes all my PAs are trained in my conditions and maintaining my safety, as a couple of my conditions put me at risk, but to me this is no different in my belief that all people should be trained in first aid. I don’t suggest that this rule of mine is right for everyone else but for me I have to keep them separate as I truly believe they are different personality types I am looking for. They are both needed in my life and they do a fabulous job, but they act separately, with separate functions and effects. So this is my recommendation to you, if you are choosing a PA, make sure you know what you want from the person from a personality perspective, a skills perspective, an ability perspective, but if in doubt forego them having the skills and pick the right personality for you. Skills can be trained, personality is usually set by the time you are an adult. Advertise locally to where you live in parish and other magazines, its cheap and it means they are the type of people interested to read local publications too. So good luck with recruitment and never settle for a bland “they will do”, only settle for the one that you want.
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