How to get the best value from your assistant

Have you just hired an assistant for your business? Read practical advice to ensure that you get the best value from them.

There comes a time in your business journey when you just can’t do it all. You can’t be the sales person, bookkeeper, receptionist, CEO and cleaner. It’s time to bring in an assistant to help.

But as exciting as this is, what do you do with an assistant once you’ve hired them? They’re potentially the asset your business needs, but only when put to the best use.

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To help you make sure you get the best value from your new hire (and they enjoy their new role), Donna Miller, founder of C3 Workplace shares her advice.

You’ve hired an assistant. Now what?

You’ve done it! After the long hours of back-office tasks you valiantly (or not so much…) decided to take on by yourself, mountains of unread emails, unprocessed invoices, rogue business cards, and clearing your voicemail box for the THIRD time this week, you finally decided to hire an assistant.

Impressive resume? Check. Nice rapport during the interview? Check. That jolt of excitement knowing you’ve finally got some help? Check. Congratulations – you’ve hired an assistant! …Now what?

Getting started

Hiring an assistant (whether it’s your first or your 50th) means you should have a game plan going in. Too often people hire without knowing how to make the most of their additional help.

We get it, you say to yourself “I’ve been so swamped, I’ll just hand it all off.” Wrong! We’ve seen the repercussions of too much, too soon or the dreaded hesitation of letting go.

To get started there are two key things you need to do.

1) Assess your own tasks and time

Before hiring, we recommend keeping tabs on what exactly you’re working on and how long you’re spending. Then, rank your priorities.

By keeping track of your own time, the tasks you most need to hand off will be easily pinpointed. We highly recommend T-Sheets for an easy-to-use software that allows a comprehensive snapshot of your day.

2) Communicate

Hiring an assistant can work wonders for both your business and your stress level. However, if communication is stunted, progress will be blocked.

We recommend scheduling time to meet once a week to touch base. In person is great, but virtual is just as good. Try to understand how they work (you may want to ask them to take a quick, free DISC assessment), and identify their strengths and weaknesses.

And, most importantly, allow yourself the flexibility of change. Don’t be a tyrant. A great assistant who can ‘manage-up’ is one of the best tools you can have – trust us.

Keep that flow going

Schedules are set, priorities are in order. But the work isn’t over yet (is it ever?). A working relationship is just that – always working. Here are a couple of ideas of how you can keep the flow going.

1) Delegate in waves

Ramp up your assistant’s responsibility in stages. Start small, gauge results, and then delegate more and more when you’re both ready.

Soon, your assistant will feel like more of an extension of yourself, allowing them the opportunity to ‘manage-up’ (spotting weaknesses or gaps before they happen) and you’ll have that warm, fuzzy feeling of someone really *getting* you and your business.

2) Spend some time away

We know you’re the backbone of your business. You know you’re the backbone of your business. Your assistant knows… look, you get the point. That doesn’t mean you need to be front and centre every day, all day.

In fact, you shouldn’t be. With an efficient assistant taking on more and more, you need to let your office run without you. It will strengthen your assistant’s ownership of their work, and you’ll get to re-prioritise.

And being gone doesn’t mean you’re disconnected. Software such as Asana is a great way to keep an eye on what’s going on with clients, projects, progress, and even your assistant’s daily workload.

Capitalising on your time

Dare we say it – you’ve found yourself some free time? In the small business world, that’s akin to striking gold, so capitalise on it! Here’s how.

1) Business development

Why did you hire an assistant in the first place? Oh yeah, to do what you do best! If your strength is in selling, or networking, or writing – do it as often as you can.

Now that you’ve got a trustworthy assistant to handle the back-office of your business, you have to be the driving force to keep that revenue flowing.

Those three hours you just gained back from not fighting with QuickBooks? Make some sales calls! Found some free time after that shoebox of business cards was finally entered into your CRM system? Write a blog and get it out with your newsletter! And get it on your calendar. Make it real and follow through.

2) Take ‘me time’

What’s just as important as business development? Me time. So avoid burnout and take a break from work. Do what makes you happy. Clear your mind for a few hours, for a weekend, for a cross country trip. Your assistant’s got this. When the well is dry, you need to make it a priority to relax and get that baby flowing again.

You can’t do it alone – so don’t!

No woman (or business owner) is an island. You can’t do it alone – and you shouldn’t. If you’re uneasy about letting go, it’s okay. Just chip away little by little until you’ve built that confidence.

And if you need to get through a couple of assistants until you find the right one, that’s okay, too. This is a working relationship for the both of you and should be mutually beneficial.

As part of their Workflow for Profit Series, join C3 Workplace for their upcoming Smart Marketing Lunch & Learn on Wednesday 20 July.