As many top level executives know, having a good assistant can make the difference between time well spent and a day wasted on “busy” work. Having an effective relationship with your assistant is key to improving your own efficiency and the quality of your work. The following are three areas that are vital to creating an ideal relationship between you and your assistant.
Your assistant communicates with your best clients and closest friends. They ensure that you make a flight, meetings and soccer games. Your assistant may be familiar with the details of business deals, dollars spent, and employee relationships. In fact, an effective assistant may know as much about your organization as any other employee. I have found trust between the assistant and executive is the most important part of the relationship. If you don’t trust an assistant to conduct a meeting with an important client, you probably have the wrong colleague.
Empower your assistant by requiring them to make decisions and act on your behalf for some tasks. I make decisions regarding JP’s calendar. He doesn’t touch it. And, on the rare occasion he does – it’s a mess.
A task that can be completed effectively by someone else should be. This gives you more time to dedicate to those items only you can complete. The assistant and executive must have a clear understanding of key performance areas and the assistant should proactively move the executive toward these responsibilities.
By giving your assistant the ability to act independently, you have more time to focus on only the most important tasks.
Frank communication is a key to any successful relationship. An assistant’s abilities are not optimized without clear goals and expectations. If you are unable to effectively communicate priorities to your assistant – the whole game is sunk. Put a system in place for clear and concise communication between yourself and your assistant. JP and I have daily debriefings and weekly one on ones. They are a must.
Great organizations need an effective assistant/executive combination. Trust, acting independently and frank communication are the key fundamentals to success.