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Introduction to How Conflict Can Arise

In this video Tom Shakespeare explains how conflict may arise between a personal assistant and their employer.
How can conflict arise? In the next three sections ,we will explain the three areas where we have found that conflict can sometimes arise, and will offer some strategies for both preventing and resolving any problems. While conflict is thankfully rare, it occurs in every walk of life. Everyone we spoke to, in our research, had experienced conflicts at some time. By the end of this course, we will signpost you to advice on human resources. It’s important to be aware of relevant law and to follow the appropriate grievance and disciplinary procedures in the contract of employment you are using, but we’re not going to go into these details here on this course.
We want to address the interpersonal dimensions of the personal assistant relationship. We hope this helps you avoid getting to the stage of grievance and disciplinary procedures. In this session, we want to know about practical issues as a source of conflict. Practical problems involve tasks - how and when tasks are done, and to what standards. As an employer, you may become annoyed at the way your PA completes certain tasks. Maybe they have a particular order when cleaning the house, or they prefer to use different cleaning products to you. Your PA may not always be on top of their game. Maybe they’re hungover, lack focus, or even seem a little lazy.
As a PA, you may feel that certain employers have a difficult style of management. Perhaps they manage your work in close detail, or have standards that seem unrealistically high. When working in someone else’s home, it’s likely you will work alongside your employer’s family and friends. You may find that your employer’s family become involved in your work, asking you to complete tasks for them ,or directing your work. Some people find this frustrating, with practical problems. You may feel positively about the person you work with, you’re not annoyed with them, their personality or values, you just wish they would do things differently. Ironically, one source of practical conflict is friendliness.
If the employer gets too friendly, the personal assistant may slack off even without realising. Also, if the relationship has become too friendly, it may be difficult to assert authority when the employer needs to. Nobody wants to give their friends a hard time.

Just as people are different, so there are different types of PA relationship. Understanding and mutual respect is the core of any relationship. But beyond that, there are choices.

This is usually not a matter of right and wrong, but ‘horses for courses’: where the employer and worker are wanting the same thing, this is more likely to go well, than where employer and worker are wanting different things out of the relationship.

This session focuses upon different types of PA relationships. The aim of this session is to help you think about what kind of relationship you would like, and what you would not.

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