Is it time to hire an assistant?


A common theme coming up recently seems to be around the area of hiring an assistant.  Whether an executive of a billion dollar organization or sole entrepreneur looking to take take the next step, the topic of having an assistant regularly hits the table.  Just today, I’ve been in multiple conversations regarding a client’s need to find an assistant as well as hearing the success story of another who’s recently added an assistant.  These conversations really capture the essences of what I typically see happening with people who’ve gone through the evaluation process and eventually decided to hire an assistant.

Let’s look at why one might desire to hire an assistant.  It seems like a no brainer, however, the leading reason to hire an assistant is to better leverage your gifts and talents for the whole of your organization.  As an example, let’s look at the small business owner who’s the creative visionary for their business.  Likely one of the reasons they are even in business as an entrepreneur is their desire to create or do new things.  Given this type of personality, it’s likely that the seemly mundane task such as managing one’s calendar, issuing invoices, responding to emails, building systems, as well as many other administrative tasks are found to be draining.  In fact, they can be so draining that an individual starts to lose focus of why they even decided to get into business in the first place causing a lose of passion for their entrepreneurial spirit.

Given all this, why would one hesitate so much to hire an assistant? Well, it normally falls into a few different categories.

First, if you’re going to add an assistant, there does need to be some type of reasonable ROI.  Like most ROI calculations, you may not see that return in the first couple months; however, you should be able to justify the hire and track your progress.  Additionally, the ROI isn’t always a financial ROI.  One needs to keep in mind intangibles like quality of life in their ROI analysis.

Another reason for hesitation centers around delegation.  Delegation isn’t always the easiest thing to do.  Most people suffer from “control” issues and lack confidence that anyone could do things as well as themselves.  While this may be true, one must count the cost of continuing to maintain this “tight grip”.  While it’s difficult to let go, with one’s even considering an assistant, it’s likely necessary to let go in order to take the organization to the next level.  Additionally, one must also come to a realization that there may be other people actually more gifted and talented in an area than themselves which could actually do a better job.  For example, if you’re not gifted in administrative functions and find someone who is, you’ll likely be presently surprised at how their gifts complement yours.

Trust is also an area many struggle with in hiring an assistant.  Especially an assistant who’s going to have full access to your Inbox as well as, potentially, parts of your financial data.  Like anything, there is a difference between “trust”, “safety”, and “stupidity”.  It would likely be “stupid” for me to hand my credit card to my teenage daughter to use as she needs.  While I “trust” her and have all the confidence in the world she won’t intentionally go out and spend maliciously, it’s too big of a temptation to have this type of freedom in her hands.  Thus, I likely need to build in some “safety” precautions giving assess to such temptations.  This analogy is the same for an assistant.  You need to bring “trust” to the relationship and find ways of building “safety” precautions into the relationship while the relationship builds more predictably.  So, practically speaking, the assistant may not have access to financial resources day one; however, they could start effectively prioritizing your Inbox with minimal risk.

In all three of these areas (ROI, delegation, trust), I encourage people to stretch beyond what they are comfortable.  Reason being is that I’ve seen the other side.  In a conversation today one individual said, “I hired a virtual assistant 6 weeks ago and it’s made a remarkable difference.  I’ve been operating with so much productivity the past six weeks and my business is starting to really grow.  If someone would have told me this was possible with hiring an assistant, I would have never believed it.  I am so thankful for the push to hire one!”  Yes, this individual’s testimony seems to be more typical than not which is why the encouragement to stretch taking a bit of risk.

A resource which was passed along to me a few years ago which I’ve also pass along to others is a podcast titled, Effective Executive/Efficient Assistant.  This 3 part podcast does a wonderful job helping one assess the need for an assistant and outlining how to most effectively benefit from an assistant.   This particular resource assumes your assistant is a full-time; however, most of the principles can also be applied to a part-time, virtual assistant as well.  I would encourage your assistant and yourself to both listen to this podcast and openly discuss.

Finally, it isn’t always easy to find that perfect fit day one.  I encourage you to tap into your own personal network letting them know your need and patiently waiting for the right fit.  Additionally, like in any hiring process, don’t be afraid to use tools like DISC, Strengths Finder, etc. to test for the right gifts and talents.  You may also find benefit from my post of The 4th “C” in Hiring as it outlines key attributes to assess in hiring.

Did today’s post spur some thoughts around evaluating the need and fit of an assistant?  As mentioned, it a regular topic which I’d love to assist.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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