Priority Personnel Blog

In Defense of the Administrative Assistant

January 3rd, 2012

Voice mail.  E-mail.  Smart phones.  Tablets.

Technologies like these are making managers more self-sufficient than ever – or are they?

I recently read a Harvard Business Review article entitled “The Case for Executive Assistants,” by Melba J. Duncan that changed my thinking.  In the article, Duncan justifies the expense of having an assistant by showing the true value he can deliver.  She argues that the average company has actually gone too far in cutting back on administrative help, and that – beyond merely writing business letters and scheduling meetings – a skilled executive assistant can:

  • boost productivity and free you to focus on your top priorities;
  • assist in on-boarding new managers;
  • provide reverse mentoring;
  • and act as the air traffic controller of an office, particularly for managers who travel frequently.

The bottom line?  In many cases, having an assistant makes good business sense – but only if he’s used properly.  So if and when you decide to add this valuable resource to your staff, remember these suggestions maximize his effectiveness:

  • Develop a checklist of responsibilities. Consider tasks that could be shifted from higher level employees and add in new tasks that are important, but not currently being carried out.  If several people are sharing the resources of your new assistant, be sure to clearly establish how he should allocate work time, to whom he should report, etc.
  • Properly introduce and orient your assistant. Let your colleagues know that your assistant speaks and acts for you (or your work team/department).
  • Don’t be afraid to delegate. If you hire intelligently, you should trust your assistant to figure out how to do the things you need accomplished.
  • Have your assistant attend important meetings.  This will facilitate his understanding of the issues facing your staff or department and help him to be viewed as an important contributor.
  • Offer training. Technology and managerial training may help your assistant fill his changing role effectively – while making him a more valuable team member.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Make it easy for your assistant stay in touch with you, and let him know your preferred methods of communication.  When delegating and giving instructions, be sure they are clear and precise.  And since communication is a two-way street, listen to your assistant.  Because he plays such a central role, he may be privy to vital information that you don’t readily have access to.
  • Show him your appreciation for a job well done. Your assistant’s job is to help you be more successful in yours.  Don’t forget to thank him when he’s made your job easier or helped you look good.

Let Priority Personnel Find You the Perfect Administrative or Executive Assistant

Surprisingly, hiring the ideal executive assistant can actually be more difficult than filling other management jobs.  Priority Personnel can make the search quicker, easier and more cost-effective.

As an award-winning central Texas staffing firm, we know that personal chemistry between you and your assistant is paramount to long-term success.  To that end, we will work diligently to understand the key traits and skills you require, as well as your company’s culture, business philosophy, values and goals – and then find you the perfect assistant.  Contact us today to get started.