Your administrative assistant is your most important delegate. But he or she is probably already the dumping ground for a myriad of tasks and victim of countless interruptions. The desperate salesperson fighting to get through to the boss, the harried employee looking for a copy of a misplaced memo, a courier dropping off a package and wanting a signature, the irate customer, convinced he had ordered something different than he received. Your assistant sits precariously in the line of fire. Make him or her a part of the management team. Here are five suggestions for working with an assistant.
1. Meet with your assistant early in the day to discuss one another's schedules and set priorities.
2. Delegate challenging and meaningful tasks and encourage him or her to suggest ways current procedures, tasks and reports could be eliminated, abbreviated or improved. Provide the necessary time management tools and training.
3. Don't be a perfectionist when supervising your administrative assistant. While it's important that such things as client proposals be top quality, remember that by spending unnecessary time on a task, other high pay-off activities may be short-changed.
4. Communicate. The more your assistant knows, the more he or she will be able to help you. A knowledgeable assistant can save you hours each week by providing information to callers and visitors without having to disturb you. When you attend a conference or take a vacation, spend some time briefing your assistant on matters that are likely to occur during your absence.
5. Above all, set a good example and show respect for your assistant's time. Plan your day. Accumulate the non-urgent requests instead of continually interrupting your assistant. Keep a folder to house assignments of lesser importance for later review. Place realistic deadlines on all tasks. Respect your assistant’s time as well as your own.
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