Most, if not all, of the world’s most successful businesses wouldn’t be where they are today if they didn’t have the support of administrative professionals. These men and women have many different titles, but their role within an office is essentially the same. They assist executives, managers, departments and sometimes the entire office with day-to-day activities to keep things running smoothly.
Tomorrow on Administrative Professionals Day, companies around the world will be recognizing the hard work of their administrative staff. If you’ve been stretched thin handling this work on your own, tomorrow may be a great time to start the process of hiring an executive assistant.
If you’re like most senior-level managers and business owners, the ONE Thing holding you back is money. Sure, another person on the payroll is an expense, but will an executive assistant be worth it? To find out, ask yourself the following financially related questions.
How Much Value Would an Executive Assistant Bring Your Business?
Each person within your company should be bringing value to the business. Value comes in many different forms from the obvious, like an assembly line worker that helps build a physical product, to the subtle, like a developer that manages a database. The bottom line – straightforward math tells us the employee must create more value than what is spent on their salary.
When your self-sufficiency has reached its max, hiring an executive assistant is the only way to get more done in the day. That’s where the value of administrative staff comes into play. A good admin assistant will make your workday more productive. They will take some of the “busy” work off your plate so you can continue to bring more value to the business.
A few years ago the Harvard Business Review covered this very topic. They noted that during the Great Recession many companies cut administrative staff in an effort to save money only to cost themselves more in the long run. They failed to realize that the admin staff helped managers get more done in a day, and that offset the cost of the assistants.
The first step in deciding if an executive assistant is financially viable is to determine how much time they would save you and others in a day. How much is your time worth? Better yet, how much is your focus worth? Because when you aren’t getting sidetracked with administrative tasks you’re able to give your full attention to your real work. When that occurs what you can accomplish becomes almost limitless. This is critical for business owners that need to put the lion’s share of their focus behind growing and managing their business.
Have You Maxed Out All Your Resources?
Before posting a job ad, consider if you have fully explored all the means for increasing your productivity. Technology has made many jobs less prevalent, because we can automate systems, get things done quickly and some tasks can be delineated to devices instead of people.
If you haven’t explored all your options for handling various tasks or taken a hard look at your systems, you may need to contract a consultant to conduct a workflow analysis first before hiring an executive assistant.
Are You Ready and Willing to Delegate Work?
The more tasks you can hand off to an executive assistant, the more value you will get. For some managers handing off responsibilities can be difficult. You’re relinquishing some of the control, and you’re putting a lot of trust in someone else.
Sit down and take a hard look at your daily schedule. How much are you readily willing to shift to an assistant? What can be retooled so that it can be handed off to someone else? What can you train someone to handle? Until you know there will be enough work for the executive assistant to do, hold off on hiring them.
Skills, Value and Salary of Executive Assistants
What makes an executive assistant an asset isn’t necessarily how many pieces of office equipment or software they can operate. A lot of the value they bring to a business lies in skills that are virtually impossible to teach.
One of the most valuable skills is whether the assistant really understands your business and industry. They’ll have to make a number of judgment calls and are charged with the task of protecting your time. That requires a keen understanding of what your priorities are and seeing opportunities when they present themselves. The more they know about your industry, the better they will be at supporting the work you do.
Other valuable skills to look for include:
- They’re a problem solver
- Willingness to learn new skills and take on responsibilities
- Being able to read situations and people well
- Able to anticipate needs
- Take initiative instead of having to be told what to do
- Organized and able to think laterally
- Team player mentality
- Good listener who isn’t afraid to speak up when they have an idea or solution
Of course, you’ll also need to consider what your weaknesses are so you can find an assistant that makes up for what you lack. You’ll also have carefully vet potential assistants to gauge whether their personality works well with your own. Like finding a significant other, the best assistant will be able to read you and understand what you need in just about any given situation. That kind of support is priceless.
All of this plays into the level of support an executive assistant will provide, the value they bring and the salary that will be fair. Someone with less administrative experience but time working within your industry can command a salary that’s on par with a well-seasoned admin professional. Motivation and a strong work ethic are also worth their weight in gold.
Bringing in a promising executive assistant and recognizing that they are a vital part of your team can have a profound impact on your productivity. Time is our greatest, most valuable resource, and talented administrative professionals have a knack for making more of it!