What's your problem?

I can't stand my assistant in my new job.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Q: I've just taken a new position, which I have to say is my dream job. But I can't abide the assistant I've inherited. How can I go about getting rid of them?

A: Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink and love at first sight notwithstanding, immediate impressions aren't always reliable. Some of the most abiding and satisfactory relationships start off in a very wary way.

Indeed, one of the Five Great Movie Plots features the disastrous encounter of two totally incompatible individuals - who, 90 minutes later, end up sharing a Nobel Prize, collaborating on a hit musical and/or finding conjugal bliss in Seattle. So please make sure that you've given yourself enough time to rate this new assistant thoroughly.

However, on the assumption that you've done all that, the sooner you take action the better. And better for your new assistant, as well as you. Being asked to move on immediately by a new boss looks a lot less negative on a person's CV than being fired after six months or more. After the initial shock, it will also be less damaging to your assistant's confidence. I realise you may find them so obnoxious that you don't give a fig how they feel - but you still should.

So speak to both your line manager and your HR director immediately. Make it plain that this is a move you're not just idly contemplating but are determined to make: you've only just taken up this new position and if you're to do it well, it's essential you have a compatible assistant in whom you have full confidence.

After that, be meticulous in following the advice and procedures you're given. Then, entirely separately, you might think about talking to the person from whom you inherited this assistant. It's not essential, but you'll have to make a lot more people-judgments before you're done and you'll find it valuable to discover whether your own assessment was broadly similar to that of your predecessor - or wildly different.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Mike Ashley: Does it matter if the public hates you right now?

The Sports Direct founder’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn criticism, but in the...

4 films to keep you sane during the coronavirus lockdown

Cirrus CEO Simon Hayward shares some choices to put things in perspective.

Pandemic ends public love affair with Richard Branson et al

Opinion: The larger-than-life corporate mavericks who rose to prominence in the 80s and 90s suddenly...

The Squiggly Career: How to be a chief strengths spotter

When leading remotely, it's more important than ever to make sure your people spend their...

"Blind CVs don't improve your access to talent"

Opinion: If you want to hire socially mobile go-getters, you need to know the context...

The highs and lows of being a super-achiever

Pay it Forward podcast: techUK boss Jacqueline de Rojas and Google UK's marketing strategy and...