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Ask Susy: Help! I’m Nervous to Train A New, More Experienced Executive Assistant

Ask Susy

Welcome, Ninjas! It is I, Susy St. Ninja.

Okay, so I’m hardly a saint ?? but I am OfficeNinjas’ in-house advisor extraordinaire.

You can write in to ask me about all your office obstacles, professional problems, coworking conundrums, and other alliterative admin-related advice. From bad bosses to a dirty dishes problem, no question is too serious or too silly for me to answer. Let’s get down to business.

Dear Susy,

Next week, I will be responsible for training and ramping up a new executive assistant in my office. I convinced my company to make the hire—someone with over double my experience in the administrative world—so that I would have someone to learn from. Now I’m in the position of training them soon and I’m very nervous! While this person will not be my peer on paper, it’s hard not to be a little intimidated and fearful that my training program will be useless, despite my abundant preparation. Do you have any words of wisdom to spare?

– Nervous Nellie in Austin, TX

Whoa, Nellie! Not to worry—this is actually a nice problem to have! First of all, congratulations on successfully convincing your company to hire another executive assistant that both benefits the team and your professional career. Celebrate that win—it was a super smart move.

However, training someone who has double your experience without feeling insecure about your program is a tricky situation. But don’t fret. After all, you managed to persuade upper management to make this hire, and you wouldn’t have been able to do that if you didn’t know the ins and outs of the company’s needs. Your team trusts your judgment, which means you’ve more than proved you know the job and how to do it well.

Be confident the training program you created will be far from useless—but essential for onboarding the new EA. Because you asked your company to hire a more experienced person in the first place, now’s the time start taking advantage of that move. Pick your new coworker’s brain about your training lineup. Present the program and ask for feedback on how to improve it.

Then approach all training sessions with as much confidence as possible. Remind yourself that while this person may have more experience, you have insider knowledge about your company’s day-to-day operations, culture, and preferred internal communication style. Could this uber-savvy EA come in and kick butt without you shedding light on all those things? Probably not. You’ve got a ton of insider insights to offer and the newbie will eat that up.

I’m confident your new EA will share some additional wise words, and they’ll probably confirm the ones I’ve just bestowed upon you. Good luck with the training program! Don’t forget to write back with an update.

Got any further insights? Weigh in on Susy’s advice in the comments.


  1. I’m loving the Ask Suzy articles. Is it possible to subscribe to this column specifically? I cannot seem to find a link to do so and am hoping I am just missing it somewhere.

    1. Thanks, Melissa! We’re glad you’re lovin’ Susy. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to subscribe to this column alone, but you can keep an eye out for new responses by subscribing to the newsletter or following along on Twitter :)

  2. Someone always has strengths and weaknesses. She may have some strengths that you can learn from, but you may have strengths she can learn from. That’s evident in my office. Although I have 30 years experience, my co-worker is very knowledgeable about certain computer applications and I lean on her for help in that area just as she leans on my for editing and proof reading and composing certain letters.

    1. That’s a perfect mindset, Cheryl. Taking the collaborative approach, like you said you and your coworker use, makes everyone stronger in the end.

  3. Just remember that he/she is ALSO nervous because they want to make a good impression and learn the new company/department quickly as well. I’ve been in this situation and I simply prefaced the training by saying she could be comfortable telling me when she already knows something so we can move along.

    1. True that! We don’t think anyone starts a new job without a bit of butterflies, no matter how much experience they have. Your suggestion to preface the training is a great one—it opens communication lines right away!

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