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.

How to Ensure Your Temporary Employees are Productive and Efficient

February 12th, 2010

When used strategically, temporary staffing can improve productivity, increase capacity to handle spikes in workload, and provide access to specialized skill sets – all without increasing your fixed expenses.

To help ensure your temporary staff is as efficient and productive as possible, be sure to follow these 5 key steps:

Step #1: Determine the type of person you need and define required skills.
Meet with managers and those who will be working with the temporary employee to determine which skills are ideal for the position you are trying to fill.  Examine top performers you already have on staff to determine what skills have made them successful.  And finally, work closely with your staffing agency and provide as much detail as possible.

Step #2: Work with an experienced staffing agency.
Find an agency that has experience in your industry.  Not only will an experienced staffing agency know where to look to find the right person, but they will also be able to help you determine things like an appropriate pay rate for a particular position.

Step #3: Provide a solid orientation and training program.
Include information such as working hours, breaks and lunch schedules, any safety regulations or company rules, and contact information for direct supervisors. You may also want to assign a core staff member or supervisor to help orient the temporary employee.  Also, find out what type of training and orientation your staffing agency can provide.  Good staffing agencies will offer guidance on how to best bring temporary employees up to speed so they can hit the ground running–and they may even conduct initial training and orientation for you.

Step #4: Communicate clearly and openly.
Make sure your temporary employees understand what’s expected from them.  Encourage employees to ask questions and make sure they know who to direct those questions to.

Step #5: Check in regularly.
Be sure to take a minute or two at several points throughout the first day to check in and gauge progress.  Set specific days/times you plan to check in throughout the week to answer any questions and monitor progress.

Bringing a temporary employee on board at your company can offer a host of benefits – as long as that employee is managed properly. And from our experience, hard-working and properly managed temporary employees often become leading candidates for full-time openings.

If you’re interested in hiring temporary employees or just want to learn more about how temporary employees can help your company, contact Priority Personnel today. As San Marcos’ leading staffing and temporary employment agency, we can deliver the flexible staff you need without increasing your permanent workforce.