Your Executive Assistant Sucks (and It’s Not His Fault)

There are two kinds of executives. Those who have a great executive assistant and those who don’t. Which one are you?

If you’re the latter, have you ever considered why? It could be that the one you hired doesn’t have what it takes. Most likely, it’s not. It’s more likely that you don’t know how to delegate.

Some executives delegate tasks.

Check my voice mail. Write this document. Schedule this appointment. Get a caterer for this event.

In the process of delegation, you offload tasks. There is a direct correlation between the tasks you delegate and the time you save. For every task you delegate, the amount of time it would take to accomplish is the amount of time you save.

Other executives delegate projects.

Plan this event. Manage these relationships. Optimize this process.

In this mode, there is a direct correlation between the projects you delegate and the time you save. For every project you delegate, the amount of time it would take to manage the project and execute the tasks is the amount of time you save. Because planning is often more taxing than doing, it’s reasonable to think you have received a 3x return.

The most leveraged executives delegate outcomes.

I want deep relationships with our top ten clients. I want every employee to know they are respected and valued. I want every visitor to our office to walk away saying, “Wow! That place is different!”

These executives partner with their assistants and together they accomplish the otherwise impossible. Because creativity and thinking are priceless, the return you get from this type of partnership is exponential.

Which executive are you? What do you need to do to become better?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Bryan Miles says:

    Very well said! Leaders who don’t know how to delegate well … they will hit the lid of their own personal or leadership capacity. Great post! Thanks for sharing with eaHELP too!

  2. Jon says:

    I am a Controller and share an Executive Assistant with the VP Operations and the General Manager. I like to arrange my own travel and prepare my own expense reports. I guess the other 2 executives have our Assistant do these things for them. I recently learned she is upset with me because I don’t give these tasks to her. I find that it takes less time to do these tasks than explain how I want them done. Any advice on what I can say to her so she won’t be upset?

    1. David DeWolf says:

      Jon, I’m sure you could simply sit down and explain the situation, but, frankly, I’m not going to recommend that.

      Learning to delegate to an EA is tough, but, it’s a lesson that will significantly increase your productivity, performance, and ability to lead. On the surface, it’s easy to argue it takes more time to teach, but, considering that these are recurring administrative tasks it’s nearly impossible for that to be the case. You’re weighing a one time investment vs. a long term annuity. $50 today buys an ongoing $10 per month.

      Bite the bullet. Sit down with your EA and ask her for advice on what other things you can offload to her. Then, empower her to do them the way she wants. What you should care about is the end result, not, “how I want them done”.

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