Having your own personal assistant can sound like a dream come true.
Who wouldn’t want to work alongside someone whose primary role was to help you succeed professionally?
Executive assistants can certainly be professional lifesavers. They step into many different roles, taking over tasks like scheduling executives’ appointments, admin work, sometimes even running personal errands.
If you hire a professional assistant at the right time and under the right conditions, they could potentially save you hours of work each day.
However, if you’re not at quite the right stage for hiring, an executive assistant can turn into a headache or at worse, an expensive mistake.
We’ll go over the top three signs that the timing is right to hire an executive assistant below.
You’re Feeling Overwhelmed With Responsibilities
A significant increase in work-related stress is usually the first, and perhaps most obvious, sign that it’s time to find an executive assistant.
As your business grows, new responsibilities continue to stack up. Tasks you used to be able to handle easily start falling by the wayside.
This is when many executives start losing control of their schedules and to-do lists. They may miss meetings, arrive late because of scheduling miscommunications, or forget important tasks. As responsibilities grow, they start to find that they’re increasingly needed in two places at once.
Due to increasing demands, executives start to face a more and more chaotic workday each morning. This pushes many executives into survival mode. In survival mode, they can’t get ahead of daily tasks to work on the big-picture leadership work that companies need to thrive.
An executive assistant’s core responsibilities deal with alleviating this exact type of stress. Although your assistant can be trained to help out wherever an executive needs it most, many specialize in handling appointment scheduling and triaging requests so that executives don’t have to stop and deal with each request personally. That filter is often the secret trick to bringing responsibilities to a manageable level.
You Can Afford It (and Understand the Potential ROI)
Of course, you’ll need more than just work stress to justify hiring a new executive assistant. You also want to make sure that you can pay them.
The increase in responsibilities that tends to cause executives to search for executive assistants is usually a jump in business growth. And that growth is typically accompanied by an influx of extra cash that tempts businesses to bring in new hires.
However, the growth that’s currently stressing you out might not continue for long. You need to analyze your growth—and how sustainable it is—in order to determine how much money you have available for a long-term hire.
Just like any other new hire, there will also be a learning curve for a new executive assistant. It may be several months before they will be able to work at full capacity. During those months, you’ll likely have to spend a good deal of your own (limited) time training them. Keep that in mind as you determine how much you can afford to pay.
Of course, salary amount will vary based on the level of experience of any assistant you hire. If you don’t want to do as much training yourself or don’t have the resources to train someone, spending more for a more experienced assistant might be necessary.
The training time and pay required will vary based on the complexity of the tasks you expect your assistant to take on, as we’ll discuss next.
You Know Exactly How an Assistant Could Help
Making any hire without a clear idea of what that role will be responsible for is a big mistake — and that certainly applies to executive assistant hires as well.
We all tend to underestimate how long it will take others to learn the tasks that we take for granted, even things we consider second nature, like scheduling appointments according to our unique preferences. If you’re not clear on what you expect your assistant to accomplish each day, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of frustration.
Most executives begin by outsourcing their most repetitive tasks, like processing paperwork (invoices and employee time-off requests), or running reports for analysis. Any task that can be broken down into a simple list of written instructions is ideal for a new hire.
Pay attention to exactly how you spend time each day to determine the tasks you can most easily pass off to an assistant. You can even keep a time log to get insight into which tasks are interrupting your flow and taking up an unexpected amount of time.
Once you have a working list of tasks to potentially outsource, you may notice that some of your most repetitive, disruptive work can be streamlined or eliminated without an assistant’s help. For example, you may decide that you can alter your schedule or change internal procedures. Or those tasks could be taken on by more cost-effective software tools, like accounting and payroll.
Wait to hire an executive assistant until you’re sure that you have work for them that will continue for the long-term. Considering hiring a remote or part-time assistant if you find that you don’t have enough work for a full-time, on-site employee. It’s better to start off with limited work and gradually increase someone’s workload to full-time than to start by hiring a full-timer and have to abruptly let them go due to cash-flow problems.
The Office Receptionist as Executive Assistant
As we wrote in our post 8 Ways to Structure Your Business’ Front Office, the front desk staff can take on many typical executive assistant tasks.
The people charged with greeting visitors as they come inside are often uniquely suited to these duties, because they can take care of quiet administrative tasks that don’t require deep concentration when they aren’t busy helping visitors check in.
Whether or not you’ve dedicated someone full-time to your front desk depends on how large your office is and your security and confidentiality needs. However, in any office, visitors can create a serious distraction for employees working on other things.If there’s no plan in place to stop office visitors from wandering unescorted, they’ll cause plenty of distractions. #receptionistapp Click To Tweet
If you don’t yet have the bandwidth to hire someone to work the front desk and help with assistant duties full-time, you might consider implementing a program like The Receptionist for iPad.
Visitor check-in apps like The Receptionist allow your guests to check-in quickly via iPad. The system then notifies the appropriate employee automatically via text, email, or chat message based on the visitor’s needs.
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