teaching your assistant yield return on investment

Teaching Your Assistant Yields Huge Return on Investment

Are you teaching your assistant?

One of the most common challenges we hear from Administrative and Executive Assistants is this: “I’m underutilized.”

In our experience, Executives across the board fail to fully leverage the time and talents of their support staff. Many argue this is for good reason: Delegating a task or project often requires that you first teach your Assistant how to do it, and teaching takes time.

If there’s one thing every Executive has in common it’s that time is a precious and incredibly scarce resource.

However, every Executive we’ve worked with has also been a very savvy businessperson. They’re willing to invest in things, but only when it really makes sense—only when there’s a very good chance of a high return on that investment.

In our recently released Guide, Executives & Assistants: Working in Partnership, we offer many strategies for effective delegation, and one particularly important point addresses this idea of the potential return on time invested. We call it the “long-term time savings.”

Let’s talk numbers for a minute. Say you have a report that takes you 2 hours to complete each month. Teaching your Assistant to do this for you might take as much as twice that time, up to 4 hours. That can feel daunting, and that’s when many Executives say to themselves, “I don’t have time to teach! I’ll just do it myself.”

However, the savvy time investor recognizes the potential for a high return. Sure, you spend 4 hours this month teaching, but next month, when your Assistant does the report, you save 2 hours. And the month after that, you save 2 more. And pretty soon, you’re yielding significant long-term time savings. Over a year, your Assistant has saved you 24 hours (2 hours per month x 12 months), for the bargain-basement price of just 4 hours spent teaching.

That’s a whopping 600% return on investment! Where else can you get that? And the return only increases the longer you work with your Assistant. The true value of this investment is truly much more when you consider everything else you could be doing with that time.

We encourage Executives to really do the math and weigh the opportunity against the cost. What would it take to teach your Assistant to do just one new task this month? What would it save you by the end of the year? And, most importantly, what other higher-value tasks could you make real progress on in that time?

In the video below, Joan Burge shares some of her past experiences with this an Assistant. These days, Joan continues to use this principle, not only in her training of Executives and Assistant teams but also in her own work as an Executive seeking to leverage the time and talents of her own Assistant.

If you’re looking to delegate more and earn a greater return on your support staff investment, pick up a copy of Executives & Assistants: Working In Partnership today.

Executives – Take Time To Teach from Office Dynamics on Vimeo.

This post is participating in our blog-a-thon for the administrative profession.

executives and assistants working in partnership

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19 thoughts on “Teaching Your Assistant Yields Huge Return on Investment”

  1. Gloria von Gesslein

    I’ve found if you continoulsy ask them what you can take from their desk so they can focus on more important issues, evenually they will start giving things to you on a regular basis.

  2. Teaching is invaluable. It allows each person to achieve more than they can on their own. It also allows the executive to focus on higher priority projects that can really use that attention.

  3. I shared this article with our Executive team today with the encouragement for both the EA and their executive to have a discussion to see if there is both an interest in teaching something new, and learning something new. I am looking forward to hearing some success stories from within our team, as well as a positive ROI. I know it will come!

  4. Another point to make, when you teach someone else, they may also have ideas on how to do the task more efficiently, which ends up saving even more time.

  5. Thanks again for another great article. This is an excellent reminder that when we take the time to teach someone else a skill the returns are ten-fold the time invested.

  6. This is the best yet…
    If I can get my Boss to understand this it would be my greatest achievement. My Boss wants to do everything, while she is more than capable and qualified there is only so much time in the day, and only so much she can achieve. She runs away with the idea that it is faster for her to do it herself. What she cant see is, if she takes a few extra minutes to show me what needs to be done, she will have more time than she knows what to do with.
    She is a brilliant person, but a teacher she is not.

    Continue the good work Ladies.

  7. Jean Weaver, CAP-OM

    I’m fortunate that I’ve not experienced an executive who didn’t want to teach/delegate. Although this blog will be great to pass along to any new managers/executives who have never had their own assistant.

  8. Thank you for putting into perspective the ROI for taking the time to teach a task! I have the Working in Partnership workbook. It was a great guide to let me know when I was on the right track and was also able to learn more.

  9. Excellent information. In my situation there are many things that I cannot do for my executives. They prepare financial reports with information I have no access to; however, I do remind them I can take on more mundane tasks.

  10. Had a boss once that would call me every once in a while and ask “have you ever…” or “do you have access to…” I loved it because it meant I was about to learn something new. He isn’t here anymore, but I still do most of those things…..

  11. Great article. I think we need to keep in mind that the time savings of teaching another applies to Admins as well. I know there are times I have thought that I didn’t have the time to teach our Office Assistant how to do a task; but as this article says, I’ll would save time in the long run if I spend some time teaching today.

  12. What a marvellous article. I used a similar argument to justify some interactive tools I developed in SharePoint last year: showing the projected savings over time vs. the intial investment.

    I’ll definitely keep this handy as a reference for colleagues I am mentoring in the art of asking for more responsibility.

  13. I love that my Executive is willing to teach me tasks that gives her more time to do things that she needs to concentrate on; and bonus I learn new skills!

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