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